Jeff Kasper

lessons (vol. 1)

lessons (vol. 1) [directors cut] in Boundary Objects: New Works by Jeff Kasper, at Herter Art Gallery in 2020. A greyscale video projection is viewed on an angle. A purple washed wall depicts a still frame of two male presenting figures with various tattoos. They are standing with faces off-frame. With the camera focusing only from neck to knees, in a side-to-side embrace, they have arms tangled. The figure with a white shirt extends his right arm to hold the upper-arm of the other in a delicate but firm grasp.

lessons (vol. 1) [directors cut] in Locus: Art as a Disabled Space at The 8th Floor, New York, 2018. A female presenting figure with long black hair and a pearl white sweater sits alone on a wooden bench and views a video-projected image, white text on a darkened wall, that says: “closeness is in the loss of embrace.” 

detail from lessons (vol. 1): two performers extend their arms, reaching out into a grey void, only for their hands to barely touch. 


After a sequence of white numbers appear on black background (001 to 018) a series of moving portraits appear. Filmed in black and white, two male presenting figures dressed in neutral colors stand very still in front of a grey backdrop. With faces obscured off screen, the subjects are only visible from the shoulders to the lower legs. After each number appears, the film jumps to a black screen before depicting footage of the two men performing a series of dramatic, intimate gestures that include hand-holding, lacing fingers, and embracing.

As the film progresses the duration of each recorded scene gets shorter and shorter, creating a fragmented glimpse of each gesture at varying lengths of time and at varying distances, while cutting to black at faster intervals. In some scenes the viewer sees hands and fingers close up while at other times the camera focuses on the movement of appendages closer to the torso and the chest. Three times during the film there is an error, numbered "000" followed by footage of the men caught off guard and arguing as if in-between scenes. After 10 minutes and 11 seconds the film ends, and repeats only to depict written descriptions of the gestures previously performed.

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