Shall we watch it? — Thoughts after the panel discussion of Jesper Just’s show at Brooklyn Museum

“Where can I see it? “
“Why can’t you put them into DVD and make them available?”

These are the two questions from the panel discussion of Jesper Just’s Romantic Delusion exhibition last Saturday at Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Just tried to answer them in a positive way, while the curator Patrick Amsellem kept silent about the touchy questions. It is another moment of romantic delusion when public’s naive questions are averted through careful phrasing. (In this case, Just’s just-so-so English helped a little bit.) I looked at Eric when hearing such questions. We both smiled, but said nothing. But we know: Artworks exhibited in major museums are not meant to be affordable, or should I rephrase this way–artworks that can be bought in mass production with abundant availability won’t be exhibited in museums?

It is true that no gig-lee prints can substitute an original painting even though the coloration is identical. Photos and sculpture are more tangible. Photos can be reproduced from the negative films or now a digital file infinitely and sculpture can be cast hundreds years after the molds were made. On the other hand, the audience have their legitimate reasoning. Videos are a different type of art media. The copy process from one disk/tape to another does not diminish the quality of the artwork. So why not if one of the goals of his art is to outreach the public?

Nothing is more controversial when the originality of the video comes to the panel discussion. If all arts are supposed to be consumed, the consumption of video art is the closest to the commercial activity: Between the clear defined start and end, the minds watch the specific clips as time goes by. Some people may get confused or bored, but that may happen in commercial movies too.

The difference between the consumption of commercial movies and of art videos lies in the density. The density of information, emotions and subcontexts in Just’s Bliss and Heaven is so great that the second time I watched it brought me some new thoughts and understandings. of equal amount as the first time. Seldom do people go to watch the same movie twice, because blockbuster movies are meant to be easily grasped and lightly consumed with coke and popcorn. The length, on the other hand, goes the opposite. I doubt one can concentrate more than one hour for a movie made by Just. He himself admitted that he would probably never make a commercial one. The ambiguity lies in the concise format and the richness of the emotions will be diluted if a story is told in clarity and well-defined Hollywood style.

“The market for this type of movies is small. ” Jesper confessed in the end. “And the cost to make such movies is large.” But the question is who betrays who facing the embarrassing result that art movies cannot find audience while audience cannot find art movies? Just said he would have another show in a gallery next March, before that all New Yorkers will have to come to Brooklyn Museum for the four short movies. (He has made more than 20 movies. so far)

From a collector’s point of view, I have no desire to own a movie, even if I can have it autographed, even if I can watch it a dozen times and still find something new. I may, if possible, go to the gallery to watch them and thus consuming them. A necessary channel should be built to connect the two parties who complains “the man who is not there”.

Jesper Just has a website. If you are interested, visit Jesper Just.

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