Exhibitions: Jesper Just: Romantic Delusions

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    On View: Toilet Spoon in the Shape of a Bouquet of Flowers

    Like many late Eighteenth Dynasty spoons, this example takes the form of a floral bouquet. The decoration includes lotus and papyrus blossom...

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    Jesper Just: Romantic Delusions

    • Dates: September 19, 2008 through January 4, 2009
    • Organizing Department: Prints, Drawings and Photographs ?
    • Collections: Contemporary Art
    • Location: This exhibition is no longer on view in Robert E. Blum Gallery, 1st Floor
    • Description: Jesper Just: Romantic Delusions. [09/19/2008-01/04/2009]. Installation view.
    • Citation: Brooklyn Museum. Digital Collections and Services (DIG_E_2008_Just)
    • Source: born digital
    • Related Links: Main Exhibition Page
    Exhibition Didactics ?
    • Jesper Just Romantic Delusions
      The films by the Danish artist Jesper Just (born 1974) suspend the routines of everyday life so that important personal relationships can be renegotiated. Many of Just’s films take place in unusual settings—places with their own set of rules, where convention can more easily be bent or even overturned. Capturing the complexities and contradictions of emotional life, especially the fears and uncertainties surrounding sexuality and love, Just’s films map out the elusive dynamics of human interaction.

      The charting of affection has evolved gradually in Just’s work since 2002, often through the exploration of public and private displays of emotion among men: between lovers, between generations, and within a family. Later productions further develop these ideas of intimate space with a focus on active female protagonists. While commenting on gender politics and the possibilities of relationships that cross a generational divide, at the same time Just’s films present a broader human quest for a sense of individual identity.

      In Bliss and Heaven (2004), shown in this exhibition’s entry gallery, a young man follows an older man into a magic theater, an ambiguous space where identity is fluid, unexpected encounters occur, and feelings are more easily shared. In The Lonely Villa (2004), in the final gallery, an older and a younger man communicate through poignant songs, but tentatively, by telephone. While presenting yet another example of life’s many potential conversations, both real and imagined, their exchange is made both more intimate and more distant by that intervening electronic medium.

      Just’s new production, Romantic Delusions (2008), in the central gallery, was filmed in Romania; through a focus on the alienation and stigmatization of transgressive sexuality, a sense of not fitting in with the surrounding world, it reflects on broader issues of a contemporary political and economic climate. No Man Is an Island (2002), shown on a monitor and produced while Just was still a student at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, contains the germ of his later films: here, an older man dances freely across a city square, evoking an emotional response from a younger man and catching the attention of passing children; gradually, the children’s mockery gives way to their own attempts to follow the dance. In this potentially liberating leap lies the poetic power of Just’s films.

      In many of his works, Just adapts sentimental popular songs without irony or restraint, using them to unmask the vulnerability in many kinds of human relationships. Thus revealing the depth of feelings that people are often unwilling to acknowledge can change not only the film characters’ lives, but those of viewers, too. The films’ recognition of sentimentality—the appeal to tender emotions—as a powerful, positive, and even subversive force is central to the understanding of Just’s multilayered structures; he embraces the pleasures of cinema because the very sensuousness of the medium can bring forth a visceral response. By reaching out to viewers to activate their own memories and imaginations, Just offers a potentially transformative experience.

      Patrick Amsellem
      Associate Curator, Photography

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