Jesse Jones – 22 Oct @16.00 – Screening Room 1
Now In its 5th year, the Artist In Focus strand of Darklight is where we feature the work of exceptional Irish artists whose work investigates the language of cinema. In previous years we have been honoured to screen work by Vivienne Dick, Paddy Jolley, Willie Doherty and Gerard Byrne. This year we are delighted to host a screening and public interview with Dublin Visual Artist Jesse Jones who will present a trilogy of films made over the last three years.
5 Against 2009
The Trilogy of Dust
The Trilogy consists of a collection of three films made by artist Jesse Jones over the past three years; Mahogany 2009, The Predicament of Man 2010 and Against the Realm of the Absolute 2011. The Trilogy of Dust has an arch that shifts from Brechtian alienation to the cognitive estrangement of Science fiction. Each film is connected through a series of desert, dust and ash landscapes, which form an eerie backdrop to the theatre of social and historical collapse which they cite.
Mahogany 2009 (35 mins 16mm)
Re-scripted from the final scene of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s 1927 opera The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. Jones’s film tells the story of a city outside of society, whose inhabitants are offered a space of ‘infinite freedom’ as long as they pay enough money. This freedom manifests itself in an excessive indulgence of pleasures. Mahogany, shot in the Australian outback, restages this fictitious city in the wake of its collapse, as a dialogue between the city’s architect Begbick, and a Whisper Choir made up of its inhabitants. With the suspension of time, and setting the action in the void of the desert, the video takes the allegorical geographical location and historical moment as a starting point for a critique of present political conditions. Whilst Brecht intended Mahagonny to be a criticism of the false freedoms of the Weimar Republic, Jesse Jones tests the marginality of political gesture and the crisis of forms of viable political action in contemporary post-utopian society.
The Predicament of Man 2010 (3 mins 16mm and digital mixed media)
Using footage shot in an opal mine in Cobber Pedy, Australia, intercut with over a thousand still images that appear momentarily on screen, Jones subliminally contrasts the desolate landscape with flashes of often recognisable 20/21st century icons and events. The Predicament of Man creates an uneasy and foreboding slippage in time that hints at an apocalyptic future. Its title is borrowed from an essay in Limits to Growth, by the economic think tank; The Club of Rome in 1972. The Predicament of Man examines the consequences of exponential growth theories of late capitalism and how they may not only over stretch our resources carrying capacities, but also our sensory capacity to perceive reality itself.
Against The Realm of the Absolute 2011 (12mins 16mm )
Commissioned by Collective gallery Edinburgh, set in a distant future in which a great plague has wiped out the male population of the world. Adapted in part, from Joanna’s Russ’s iconic separatist feminist Sci-Fi novel from 1975, The Female Man. Against the Realm of the Absolute seeks to investigate the multiple narratives of Feminism and how it is inevitably tied to a critic of Capitalism itself. Filmed in the ash lagoons of Cockenzie power station and made in collaboration with a feminist megaphone choir formed by Jones in Edinburgh in 2011, Against The Realm of the Absolute attempts to attend to the multiple possible dytopic future crisis we might face and how, through this very act of fictional speculation, we may in turn open up critiques of our present reality.
The Q&A with Jesse will be hosted by Declan Long
Declan Long is a writer and lecturer at the National College of Art & Design, Dublin, where he is Course Co-ordinator (with Francis Halsall) of the MA ‘Art in the Contemporary World’. He is a board member of the Douglas Hyde Gallery and he writes regularly on contemporary art for a range of Irish and international publications. Recently published writings include essays on Mamma Andersson, Ulla von Brandenburg and Willie Doherty. He is also a visual arts correspondent for ‘Arena’ on RTE Radio One.