Purple Art

[November 16 2015]

Jesper Just and FOS “in the shadow / of a spectacle / is the view of the crowd” Presented by Performa, New York

“in the shadow / of a spectacle / is the view of a crowd” explores societies’ emotional relationship to architecture, and behavioral patterns within it. JESPER JUST and FOS created an installation on the 43rd floor of 225 Liberty Street using black-out curtains to obscure the 360 degree views of Tribeca’s skyline, and hired plainclothes individuals to create subtle barriers which directed or prevented viewers from entering certain spaces.

The performance unfolded in four parts, based on the structure of a symphony, first corralling guests in the elevator anti-chamber such that new arrivals were immediately thrown into a crush of bodies. The second movement allowed guests to travel into the larger space and was accompanied by an eerie soundtrack from a drone-powered organ, a unique invention.

JESPER JUST and FOS used projection to loop different visuals on grand screens, focusing on aspects of surveillance and the nature in which we are watched without being aware. One video provided a drone-eye-view of people traversing a field, another spied upon a bassist through the exterior of the building, projecting an inward view of the wrap-around windows which were otherwise totally obscured by floor-to-ceiling curtains.

Three black-out windows provided access to the skyline through geometric peep-holes, one triangular, one circular, and one like a black-widow’s diamond back. Queues quickly formed to take advantage of the sunset over the skyline and the adjacent 1 World Trade Center. These peep-holes highlighted the privilege of unobstructed sight lines, and the constant spectacle of Manhattan’s skyline.

JESPER and FOS were able to collapse spaces which exist vertically in New York. Creating the feeling of a tunnel on the top floor of a high rise, and integrating the patterns of movement which happen on the street into interior space. The obstacles within “In the shadow / of a spectacle / is the view of a crowd” tested the patience and desire of audience members to integrate or diverge from the crowd. They created an attuned awareness for how spaces encourage or bar certain types of motion and exploration.

The final movement featured vocalist SAHRA MOTALEBI performing vocal free-form while her moving image was super-imposed onto a photograph of 1WTC. This injected a personal and spontaneous identity into a static yet highly symbolic architecture. Her beautiful range of tonality was both playful and lamenting, free and refined.

“In the shadow / of a spectacle / is the view of a crowd” showed the privileged of all-seeing views, how precious the skyline is as soon as it becomes obscured, and provided a deep appreciation for how individuals exist as emotional entities within institutionalized frameworks. It reflected the audience back onto themselves, such that the performance was driven by the multiple formations of the crowd.

Text and Photo Elise Gallant

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