Jan Mancuskas films, installations and stage performances are based on the reception and conception of space. The artist uses linguistic and figurative means to implement a reconfiguration of space, often connected to a fragmentary, dramaturgical, sometimes surreal or existentialistic narrative. A predominant theme in his choreographic concepts is movement; in visual, semantic, architectural and corporeal forms of expression it is articulated – and then dissolved. For his present show in Meyer Riegger gallery the artist created three new pieces, which shift between graphic art, text piece, sculpture, installation and film. Reconstruction, association and disassociation are perceptive techniques that connect and correlate the individual pieces.
In his installation “Notion in Progress” Jan Mancuska outlines a description of space. The focal points of the work are the three words “Cine”, “Mato” and “Graphy” which the artist positioned in the room in various media and materials – a free-standing wooden sculpture, a wall projection and a floor graphic. Similar to a mind map, individual associative words branch out from this primary word structure, developing like a chain of terms – in this case physically along wires that span the room diagonally. The installation oscillates between the visibility and the immateriality of thoughts, which condense into fictive, cinematic sequences within the process of contemplating and reading.
The 16 mm film “Postcatastrophic Story” is presented on three projectors and causes the disassociation of a chronological order to become a constitutive part of the film image as well as the film narrative: The plot revolves around a news report shown from the viewpoint and basically from the memory of five protagonists. The subject is an insignificant catastrophe that occurred in an unspecified town, which one of the protagonists noticed in a newspaper. In the course of the film, which shows each scene looped in delay, the characters as well as the plot threads belonging to the individuals engage in a dialogue with one another.
This dialogue portrays the processually conceived film as chain of narratives, encounters and gestures in the three fragmented, parallel sequences. Forms of remembering and forgetting, the attempt to retain language and the loss of language (due to the disassociation of syntax), as the film protagonists embody in their individual roles also become – in the visual undermining of the films continuity – the measure of the medium itself. Jan Mancuska questions the relationship between original and copy, fiction and reality, while turning over the allocation of each to the viewer.
In the film object “Theater X” the viewer becomes a super-ordinate viewer of the shown cinematic scene and the object. Four protagonists enter an empty stage. The camera shows the stage situation from a birds eye view, while the actors face towards the perpendicular keyboard of the horizontal laptop screen on which the film is shown. The laptop, utilized by Mancuska as an object and as a playback device also serves as a projection surface, and allegorically as the stage and audience seats of a theater, because the computer keyboard resembles the seating pattern of an auditorium.
The film begins with the introduction of four characters, who represent four types or human characteristics in a kind of pantomimic role play: The perception of the self, the presentation of the self, the figure of the leader and the conformist. However, which figure takes on which role in the course of the play remains unspecified. The course of the story seems spontaneous, alternating irregularly the actors fill the available space of the black stage floor with white chalk sketches, which trace their mostly intuitive movements within this limited space. Thus the floor drawings that are created in the course of the action document the self-perpetuating poses of the actors – alone or in groups. The geometrical and systematic formation of each of these almost phantom-like traces of corporeal movement resembles the shape of a puzzle piece, which forms a puzzle-like image of the actors gestures in their sum and in the course of action: A graphic documentation of the characters interaction, illustrating the definition of space and its successive portrayal. The plot of the piece, visualized almost as a script is finally revised by one of the actors, who wipes out the chalk drawing – thus making the performed action unrecognizable, even invisible, and so calls it into question as a narrative construction.
-Translated by Zoe Miller
Images and text provided by Meyer Riegger