John Jasperse's Misuses Oct 19, 2007

by Tania Kupczak

The entire set of John Jasperse’s piece, Misuse Liable to Prosecution is comprised entirely of objects that are found, borrowed or stolen. The notion intrigued me, big time, since Helsinki Syndrome pieces have so much  “stuff ” in  ”˜em, and the stuff is often a cheap representation of the original idea. I was excited to see what John Jasperse was doing with his  “stuff. ”

Jasperse created a fantastic world out of everyday objects- there are three hanging  “mobiles ” of closet hangers and push brooms, aided by certain lighting effects, transported me to a frightening art-deco Fantasy Forest, under which dancers leapt like fairies. In brief, it was cool. The main action of Misuse centered around the use of everyday objects, ranging from pairs of jeans, to a bean bag chair to a blow up air mattress, with the actions performed on them ranging from benign to abusive.

The piece raised a lot of questions for me- what is misuse of an object? I have to tell you, I was expecting some real misuse of objects that would require real prosecution, like cutting the air mattress open and using it as a body bag. The  “misuse ” in Misuse is much more fun than that. And the fun moves so subtly from fun to aggression, I often found myself startled, wondering how they got there. ( “Hey, those two people are messing around, no wait—they’re beating each other up! ”) At the end of the piece, I heard a phrase echo in my head,  “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. ”

The most affecting parts of the piece (for me), were the two bits of narration at the beginning and the end. John quoted a bunch of statistics (that end up informing some of the piece) and expressed some hopes for the end of the piece. Those short pieces of text gave a lot of bang for the buck and were good for the budget. Price tag: $0.00

- Rachel Hynes