Rene Rusjan

Rene Rusjan

Rene Rusjan is represented with an interesting illusionistic video project. The media is video, but it can’t be called complete because it’s an art-in-progress project. Although manipulating with people, the moments and people for combining but also interrupting this unusual conversation are led by the artist herself. She calls the project: „Far, yet so close!(Distant Conversations _012)“. In this cyber-global time we have become very superficial in our communication. People meet and even become close through the Internet. Some of them won’t ever meet in person though they often hang out online. When it comes to the phenomenon of Facebook, very many people talk about the issues of member information theft, but no one seems to address the fact that the inhabitants of our planet have less and less will or time to meet people in real life. Rene Rusjan discusses this situation with a lot of charm, imagination and inventiveness, in the form of an experiment.  She takes a video camera and interviews different people. She asks them to shortly introduce themselves and ask a couple of questions intended for an unknown person.  Then, Rene shows the recording to a different person, randomly chosen, in this case, on a different continent. The person then answers the question asked by a foreigner from an another continent. The project will enter its second phase upon returning to Europe, when she shows the questions of the Thai. The viewer has the opportunity to follow the questions and the answers, a conversation between strangers. The viewer thinks about the question which is then answered through the process of editing.  It becomes obvious that gestures, grimaces, the ways how they ask or answeer question can tell us a lot about a certain person.  But all this is still far away from a real smile, a direct glance, a real-life friendship. Though the author offers a simulacrum of communication, she warns us just how alienated we are on this little blue planet. The artist says: „I’d like to offer a  conversation frame to mutual foreigners. I believe we have similar needs and wishes.“

„Glance“ is the name of the work created by two artists,  Rene Rusjan and Boštjan Potokar. This changing travel-work started in an Italian small town in 2001. Afterwards, it was developed on  other European locations. The current location is Chiang Mai in northern Thailand.  The basic synopisis consists of a very enlarged photograph, a poster showing the eyes of a man known to the authors. These photos are then put into the exteriros of the chosen location, in this case Chiang Mai. After that, the authors look for eyes that could match those in the photos. The artists then have to persuade that person that the person depicted on the photo is a good one,  and that there’s no need to worry because of the size and possible lacks on the rest of their face. They try to get to know him and portray his eyes with a Polaroid camera. That photo is then placed next to the big, twin picture. Though materialized with pictures, this work discusses situations in which we know a detail about someone without a likely chance to ever meet them. When it comes to shooting portraits, the artists know all the traditional rules. They are familiar with the expectations of both the portraitist and the portrayed model. Those are the formal, physical identity of the model and the semantical identity related to its character.  The portrait is a symbol of  social rules because the artist can open or close certain perspectives to it. Rene Rusjan and Boštjan Potokar break those rules and present only the eyes, in an oversize version. It sometimes scares the viewer., who has to use his fantasy to the maximum in order to read a characteristic from it. It’s similar to social networks where you only see the best photos of the members.   One’s acumen needs to be on its top if he decides to befriend a person he knows only from photos, and at that, only those this person wants him to see. The artists say: „there’s a certain problem with looking for an adequate model within the townspeople. When we were doing the project for the first time, we were surprised by their reactions. An effort had to be made to communicate with them face to face and with them. We decided to continue.“