This summer Kunsthal Charlottenborg presents the internationally renowned Danish artist Jesper Just with the one workexhibition Servitudes, an immersive architectural installation with eight synchronised nine-minute films on a loop. Servitudes investigates how we comprehend agency as well as the conventional understanding of ‘able’ or ‘disabled’.
The films revolve around three characters: a woman, who embodies the media-created ideal of youth and female beauty, and who seems incapable of acting upon her desires; a child afflicted by a neurological disorder that affects the motor and sensory nerves, who overcomes her disability by playing the notes of Chopin’s Opus 17 that guide the visitor throughout the whole installation; and the third character, the mediator between the two humans, namely the iconic One World Trade Center in New York, a prosthesis of the city and a phantom limb occupying the void left by the traumatic loss of the Twin Towers. The three protagonists of the piece appear as hybrids of machines and organisms, and their existence blurs the boundaries between fiction and experience.
Servitudes invites you on a journey into an architecture of scaffoldings like the temporary structures made for wheelchair users. By integrating it with the existing architecture, Just distorts our perception of the space, creating situations in which you need to bend to proceed. The visitor becomes a performer in the space, adjusting an ‘able’ body to respond to unexpected obstacles in the installation, and, thus, testing ideas of agency of the body that often recur in society.
First premiered at Palais de Tokyo in 2015, Servitudes has also been shown at the screens on Times Square in New York and is now part of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The exhibition is initiated in collaboration with MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture & Technology in Lisbon and curated by Irene Campolmi.