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Jesper Just

April 20, 2006 - July 2, 2006

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About the Exhibition

Danish artist Jesper Just makes videos that explore gender roles and the way in which cultures generate and understand them. Using lush scenery, glossy production, and social codes from Hollywood movies, Just subverts traditional male roles by presenting men who overtly express their emotions. With little, if any dialogue, the actors unpredictably sing in cho-rus, embrace, and weep, creating suggestive, yet enigmatic situations.

 

Jesper Just

By Hannah Barry

 

The dozen or so short films that Jesper Just has made to date are outstanding for their refusal to adhere to the documentary tendencies and low-fi aesthetic character favored in recent video art. Positing himself as both director and editor, Just composes narrative films with obscure denouements. Stripped of prolonged spoken dialogue or ambient sound, his films are composed for a repertory cast: a single (usually male) lead character with a small supporting (also male) chorus.

 

For each film Just assembles a grand production, engaging trained actors and singers, sound and lighting engineers, and camera operators. His dexterous choreography of these elements results in a sumptuous filmic object. He employs mechanisms more commonly associated with lavish "motion picture" productions for cinema: notably his trompe l'oeil cinematographic vision, manifested in elaborate chiaroscuro combinations of light and half-light; tight control of changes in perspective and arrangement of the cast in majestic tableaux vivants; and a miniaturist's hypersensitivity in committing human emotions to film, his precise handling of the camera capturing the subtleties of sadness, melancholy, and grief as well as of prolonged expressionlessness and impassivity.

 

Just's assured combination of visual poise and intelligible yet ambiguous plot lines has led him to be associated stylistically with such giants of modern film as Luchino Visconti and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and with celebrated younger film directors who have developed a unique visual style, namely, Gus Van Sant, David Lynch, and Pedro Almodóvar. In addition to finding parallels within cinema, Just's work is also comparable to that of other contemporary artists working in film. In their extraordinary formal qualities, his productions are aligned with those of seminal American filmmaker Matthew Barney, London-based director Chris Cunningham, and young Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli. More

Hannah Barry studied art history at the University of Cambridge, England. She currently lives and works in London.

 

Hammer Projects are made possible with support from The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the Annenberg Foundation, Fox Entertainment Group's Arts Development Fee, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and members of the Hammer Circle.

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