Jani Ruscica: SANSTITRE
April 2 – May 5, 2018
2017 – 2018 Raymond and Beverly Sackler Artist-in-Resident
Opening Reception – April 2, 2018
Jani Ruscica’s installations are recognized for exploring the interstices between cinema, video, art, theatre, and performance to reveal the unity of these disciplines. Ruscica’s ambitious plans for Sanstitre (April 2, 2018 to May 5, 2018) at the University of Connecticut’s Contemporary Art Galleries present a similar kind of complexity and creativity, paired with a high level of challenge.
To begin, UConn will manufacture a set of twin puppets that reflect Ruscica’s looks, one representing the artist’s physical self, the second representing an avatar Ruscica developed for an earlier project that still exists within Second Life’s virtual world. Utilizing “Jani” doppelgangers, built and performed by UConn’s internationally respected Puppetry Arts Program, Ruscica will consider a wide range of gestural expressions and non-verbal communication messages in place of speech.
“The very act of bodily and facial movement becomes the focus. The premise of the piece correlates different forms of puppetry, the material and physical, as well as the virtual, not only the anachronisms related to such forms of representation, but also their ability to approximate reality. Accompanied by ‘scores’ to be performed in synchrony by the marionettes mirroring each other, the piece will adapt different gestural registers: artistic, linguistic, physical, etc.”
It is critical that the puppets have the flexibility to perform a wide range of movements and expressions. Each will require three skilled puppeteers to maneuver, thus the intimacy and detail of their actions will be accompanied by the visibly strenuous efforts of six puppeteers.
To achieve the mirroring effect Ruscica desires, UConn Professor and Master Puppeteer Bart Roccoberton and his current MFA Puppetry Arts students will be working in sync to interpret a progression of choreographic scores developed and drafted by some of the participants involved in the creation of Sanstitre. These voluntarily offered scores are to become a component within Sanstitre, as well as the imagery for Ruscica’s limited-edition book to be published by UConn’s Counterproof Press.
In soliciting others to create the scores his puppets will act out, Ruscica gives freedom to everybody participating in the project. Ruscica’s approach aligns with the principles associated with the Fluxus Movement of the 1960s and 1970s because he is allowing chance to shape Sanstitre’s outcome. Fluxus was an international and interdisciplinary group of artists, composers, designers and poets who believed that artists should embark upon a piece without a conception of the eventual outcome. Similarly, Ruscica’s work reveals that the process of creating is paramount to the finished product.
Along with Fluxus, the influence of Deborah Hay’s pioneering choreography in the field of experimental dance is present in Sanstitre. Hay’s large-scale dance projects involving untrained dancers, fragmented and choreographed music accompaniment, and the execution of ordinary movement patterns performed under stressful conditions equate with what Ruscica aims to accomplish in Connecticut.
“Without it being my intention, dance has become a medium for the study and application of detachment. I prefer the term dis-attachment because it implies a more active role in letting go. The balance between loyalty and dis-attachment to that loyalty, sensually and choreographically, is how the practice of dance remains alive for me.”
– Deborah Hay
A third influence helping to formulate the direction Ruscica has chosen for his project is Francois Delsarte’s 1892 book Gestures and Attitudes. Underlying this nineteenth-century philosopher’s system is the principle that every expression of the face—every gesture, every posture of the body corresponds to—is but the outward expression of an inner emotion or condition of the mind. Imitatively, Ruscica’s employment of puppetry is designed to playfully draw upon Delsarte’s research.
Jani Ruscica (Savonlinna, 1978) studied at the Chelsea College of Art and Design in London and the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki. In recent years, he has held solo exhibitions at Galerie Anhava in Helsinki, CIRCA Projects in Newcastle, Suburban PS in Rotterdam and the Otto Zoo Gallery in Milan, among other venues. Jani Ruscica’s works have been recently shown in several international exhibitions and festivals, including MACRO at the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in Rome, K11 Art Space in Shanghai, the 5th Momentum Biennial in Moss, Norway, the 7th European Photography Festival in Reggio, the 6th Liverpool Biennial and Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm, and in video screenings at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the TATE Modern in London and MoMA in New York. A new public work of art has been commissioned from Ruscica by the Helsinki Art Museum for the Helsinki City Centre Library currently under construction. The work will be unveiled in December 2018.