2K video, stereo sound
Jani Ruscica's 'Human Flesh' looks at processes of signification through a myriad of visual forms of representation. Image, sound, language and movement portray mimeticism as a complex web of signifiers.
The film takes place in a distinctly studio-like setting attempting to pass as a non-space, where notions of scale and material become blurred. Framed as intentionally performative and humorous, the piece re-evaluates both the "thingness" and the expressive potential of its subjects.
'Human Flesh' follows a distinct trajectory within Ruscica's work: a slowing down of the timespan between recognition and assimilation so as to provide an entry-point for the absurd.
What creeps into this space is a kind of visceral artifice, represented by various objects with displaced signification - a 1960's Alvar Aalto designed lamp commonly nicknamed the 'snow bell' is buzzed around by a sporadically operated drone whilst fleshy anthropomorphic computer generated typographic figures narrate the action. Ruscica's narrative assemblages generate a sombreness that quietly draws in the audience, an immersion which inevitably heightens the absurd pointedness of his chosen subjects. Lulled into this complicity, the audience is beckoned to query their own ability to adequately interpret and judge what is in front of them, shining a light on preconceived notions of the cultural specificity imbued within certain objects and scenarios.
For example in Ruscica's 'Flatlands' (2018) and 'Conversation in Pieces' (2016), both performative works seek to reappropriate imagined musical objects depicted in animated films or caricatures by giving them real life form as well as activating them through live performance. The jarring ness achieved by the actual materialisation and activation of these often inappropriate renditions bring to the for the sticking assumptions by which vast swathes of humanity are judged by.
In the original source material, the subjects are relegated to specific pigeon holes, assigned roles and left to deal with their ascribed label. In Ruscica's rendition, these roles are blown apart, tallowing for a nuanced means of realigning the material with the imagination of the outsider who first made the questionable assumption that, for example, 'indigenous people' play music with bamboo pianos.
'Human Flesh' (2019) furthers Ruscica's inquiry into breaking apart cultural signifiers through moving image, heightening his sketch-like approach to bringing material and ideas together, whilst retaining the performative edge that underpins his practice.
- Sam Watson