Part of this year’s Performa proceedings, attendees at Danish artist Jesper Just’s performance In the shadow/ of a spectacle/ is the view of the crowd, found themselves suddenly guided up to the 43rd floor of a towering Financial District skyscraper, the downtown home of Time, Inc. on Liberty Street. There, in an empty office floor, abstracted from the usual goings-on in the city’s bustling hub of banking and investment, a series of works presented themselves, continuing the artist’s investigations of structure and function, related to the movements of the modern urban context.
Passing through the space, one noticed a series of painted window pieces, obscuring portions and sections of the surrounding buildings, turning the flat panes of reflective glass around the viewer’s vantage point into a series of geometric inversions, while nearby, a strange, foreign machine whirred away. Elsewhere, one could view a video of another skyscraper, projected on a scrim, where employees could be seen at their desks, working diligently. Alienated from these office scenes, yet presented in an almost identical context, the alienated viewers were offered a moment of shared camaraderie with these workers, and the performers laboring within the space.
Considering the videos and bizarrely somber performative installations spread through the space, a distinct sense of foreign mechanisms and functions pervaded the installation, as if Just’s context and aesthetic interests provided a space of reflection and meditation on the processes and rituals of modern work, particularly underscored by the hymn sung by the artist in the last minutes of the performance. Given the context, and images of working Manhattan lit by the spectacular punk hues of the setting sun, the show presented itself as something of a tribute, a moment of meditation and focus on the act of work, and the massive body of people performing their roles daily in New York.
— D. Creahan and R. Wang
Jesper Just and FOS: in the shadow/ of a spectacle/ is the view of the crowd [Performa 15]