Sleepwalkers: Jesse Jones – The Trilogy of Dust

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The work of Jesse Jones primarily takes the form of short films, works which renegotiate the material and ideological structures of cinema. They are concerned with how cultural artefacts can be restaged to reveal embedded histories of dissent - and their contemporary relevance. As a catalyst for the production as progress phase of the next six invited artists in the Sleepwalkers experiment Jesse Jones' Trilogy of Dust acts as a formidable point of departure.

The Trilogy of Dust

The Trilogy of Dust 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 depicts a narrative 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, from the desert of central Australia to a manufactured desert of post industrial detritus. Each of these stark landscapes forms an eerie stage to speculations on social and economic collapse and their repercussions for human existence.

The work of Jesse Jones (born 1978, Dublin, lives in Dublin) primarily takes the form of short films, works which renegotiate the material and ideological structures of cinema. They are concerned with how cultural artefacts can be restaged to reveal embedded histories of dissent - and their contemporary relevance. The artist isolates forms and subjects that can be utilised as tools, both in re-imagining and in directly intervening in the public sphere.

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.