Jesper Just (b. 1974)
No Man Is an Island (2002)
Bliss and Heaven (2005)
A Vicious Undertow (2007)
Some Draughty Window (2007)
Romantic Delusions (2008)
Sirens of Chrome (2010)
This Nameless Spectacle (2011)
Jesper Just (born 1974 in Copenhagen, Denmark) is a Danish artist, and living and working in Copenhagen and New York, NY. From 1997 to 2003 he studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.
Just works exclusively in film, shooting on a variety of film stock, including 8 mm, 16 mm and 35 mm. Works dating from 2003 and before were recorded in digital video. All later works are shot on film and then transferred to HD video. The resulting images are dense and atmospheric. Their prominent soundtracks are conceived specifically for each film in cooperation with different musicians.
His works have been shown throughout Europe and the United States, including: the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2005), the Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL (2007); and the Witte de With in Rotterdam, The Netherlands (2007). His most recent exhibitions opened in September 2008; they include: Romantic Delusions at the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY, U-Turn, the Copenhagen Quadrennial in Copenhagen, Denmark, and the Liverpool Biennial in Liverpool, UK. In 2009, Jesper Just will present a new film at Perry Rubenstein Gallery in New York, NY.
Jesper Just's films are moody, atmospheric narratives often comprised of ambiguous and unresolved storylines. Thematically, his film works revolve around "the complex inter-relations between sexuality, love and cinema." Many of his older films specifically question conventional notions of masculinity. Nina Folkersma writes: "A real man is supposed to contain his emotions, to be inviolable, intellectual, pragmatic, virile, and dominant. That, at least, is the image of man portrayed in most Hollywood films. Transgressing social and cinematographic conventional representations of masculinity is a crucial element of Just's work."
Just uses Hollywood conventions as a kind of backdrop for his narratives. His films surprise the viewer with unexpected plot twists and characters stepping out of their expected roles. In "Invitation to Love" (2003), for instance, a young man takes off his shoes and dances barefoot on a table for an older man. A press release that introduced his recent exhibition, A Voyage in Dwelling, states: "Just's videos attempt to dissect the nature of human interaction and the awkwardness of relationships. As in "A Vicious Undertow" (2007) - a seductive pas de trois between a middle-aged woman, and a younger woman and man – Just often seeks to emphasize the absurdity of gender roles and the way which cultures generate them. He presents charged relationships that could be perceived as perverse and endows them with beauty and dignity." The film A Vicious Undertow (2006) marks a change in Just's oeuvre. It is the first film that uses a female protagonist. This development can be followed throughout Just's newer films up to 2008. In a recent article in frieze, Eliza Williams notes: "Far from naturalistic, his films contain a deliberate ambiguity, which, while at times unsettling, allows for an emotional resonance that speaks of a meaning above and beyond mere storytelling."
Influences of film noir aesthetics are present in his work and Just reveres the films of iconic directors such as Ingmar Bergman, Bob Fosse, Alain Resnais, Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch and Michelangelo Antonioni. He employs a reappearing cast of professional actors, dancers and opera singers (the Danish actor Johannes Lilleøre, professional mathematician H.C., musician Dorit Chrysler and Mieskuoro Huutajat of The Finnish Screaming Men's Choir).