It is with great pleasure that ARoS is able to present the internationally recognised Danish artist Jesper Just with his so far biggest exhibition Jesper Just – APPEARING / INTERCOURSES. In an innovative and unusual setting, the exhibition introduces a carefully made selection of 11 of Just’s films dating from 2002 to the present day and includes the video work Intercourses, which ARoS acquired before this total installation received its world premier as Denmark’s contribution to the Vienna Biennale in 2013.
In the spring of 2012, Jesper Just was appointed by the Danish Arts Foundation to undertake the prestigious task of representing Denmark at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. Just’s work for the Biennale developed into the large-scale five-star total installation Intercourses, 2013.
The film is set in a suburb of the city of Hangzhou in China, which is built as a full scale architectural copy of parts of the French capital of Paris. In contrast to the many other recreations of cities around the world, people actually live in this area. Here, Chinese signs and lettuce fields clash with a reproduction of the Haussmann boulevards and a smaller version of the iconic Eiffel Tower.
In his work on Intercourses, Jesper Just has thus taken his inspiration from the principal aim of the Venice Biennale, which was to represent his country in another country. The replica city, the artificial pastiche of a city, is the essential artistic feature in this total installation, which via poetic and sensuous images thematises highly relevant subjects such as a sense of cultural belonging, globalization and alienation.
Intercourses is spread over five large screens. Audiences can thus not take in all the screen projections at once, but must prioritize one or the other and decide for themselves in which direction they are going to turn their eyes. As responsible for cutting their own individual versions of the film, those viewing the work are surrounded both mentally and physically and are drawn in as essential participants in the total experience.
The exhibition Jesper Just – APPEARING / INTERCOURSES is built around the artist’s main work for the Venice Biennale, a work that now stands as the core of this gallery. Around this central feature, visitors will be able to experience a number of Jesper Just’s other films.
The setting for the film’s action is of quite crucial important to Just. Whether it is a quayside, a multi-storey car park or a motorway interchange, the physical environment has the effect of reinforcing the feelings and relationships of the characters. This applies both to Intercourses and the rest of Just’s films.
Just thus uses his locations as a kind of dogma, defining the development of the film and the relationship between the characters. This relationship is turned into an architectonic premise in the ARoS special exhibition gallery, which in the case of Intercourses has been staged as a land on the borderline between construction and decay. The physical framework thus becomes an installation in itself, underlining the contrasting and ambiguous environment in Just’s poetical film.
The visitor’s decision to take or leave the many films being projected simultaneously in different parts of the gallery is an important element in the exhibition Jesper Just – APPEARING / INTERCOURSES. Right from the very start, when gallery entrance is opened, people have to decide whether to take the left or the right door. There is no correct way through Jesper Just – APPEARING / INTERCOURSES, but several ways, something that is symptomatic of the interpretation of Just’s films, which are similarly highly individual in nature.