JENS LÜSTRAETEN | Fifteen Minutes of Fame

Opening: Friday, 16 November 2007, 7 p.m.
Exhibition: 17 November - 22 December 2007

Fifteen Minutes of Fame is a series of video and photographic works created by Jens Luestraeten during his three-month DAAD scholarship in Las Vegas in the summer of 2007. Excerpts were shown there at a joint exhibition with David Sanchez Burr entitled Four Easy Pieces. 

In the style of the casino city event and party culture, Jens Luestraeten films an ice sculpture. Far from being a glamourous motif, however, the latter is comprised of seven letters that form the word shelter, each of them sixty centimetres high. Located in one of the countless parking lots in the fastest growing city in the USA, the letters are exposed to the harsh midday sun of the summer months. In this real-time video film, they melt and shatter under the ruthless heat of the sun in the course of sixty minutes, until less than the proverbial nothing remains. With the symbolic destruction of the shelter, Luestraeten plays with the ambiguity of the English term, which also stands for the American desire for safety.

In a moment of irony, Jens Luestraeten re-interprets Andy Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fame, adding the phrase “and an occasional breeze”. Instead of granting a human being fifteen minutes of fame, the work turns to the world of plants. Fifteen plants that are not native to Nevada were each filmed at night in an urban context one minute long, using artificial, almost theatrical light. The profane and the secondary poetically take centre stage in the video. The plants are given their moment in the “limelight”, occasionally swaying softly in the wind. 

The connecting link is a work entitled John’s Tale. As trucks and cactuses flash past, images of slow drives on the highway are associated with the alleged life story of an old man and his opinions on America. 

The tale gradually becomes implausible, doubts begin to creep in about certain facts. The authenticity of the narrator and the story, however, recedes into the background in the course of the work, since “be that as it may, it’s a really good story”. 

The work of Jens Luestraeten derives from an intense exploration of the social and structural idiosyncrasies and functionalities of the places he confronts. His often remarkably reduced video works link personal experience with the results of earlier processes of documentation. The emerging space installations describe the selected phenomena, and at the same time render them perceptible.

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