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Run Away, Jo Goes Hunting by Shai Langen

Today we look at Run Away, Jo Goes Hunting by Shai Langen for Artwork in Focus. Join me Divvya Nirula as I explore and present my experience of the selected artwork.

Artwork in Focus

Title: Run Away, Jo Goes Hunting
Artist : Shai Langen                       
Year : 2015
Medium : Video installation, laquer, cardboard, wallpaper paste and acrylic paint
Dimensions : 3 minutes 16 secs
Location : Amsterdam

Run Away, Jo Goes Hunting. 2015, by Shai Langen
Image Courtesy : Dezeen

The Artwork

Shai Langen is an Amsterdam based material designer. He is famous for his multidisciplinary installations, integrating painting, photography, design and sculpting. Sculptural headpieces and covered models in hand-painted patterns for Jo Goes Hunting’s Run-Away music video.

Langen was approached by Dutch artist for “something less conventional”. He was given complete artistic freedom in his approach. So, the video opens with a billowing painting. A close-up of the gleaming paint-covered black and white surface, which is gradually shown to be the form of a person. The camera moves to the lower back and arm, and as the person stretches the paint moves and the patterns also subtly shift.

Gradually, the entire upper body of the model is revealed, with a concealed head and face, a large rectangular headpiece in place. This too dribbles paint and is covered in the same splotchy pattern.

As the film continues another arrow-shaped headpiece is introduced, which stretches the width of the model’s shoulders and is covered in alternative lines of slowly dripping black and white paint. The headpieces were made from lacquered and reinforced cardboard, and one of the oval-shaped pieces shown is almost as large as the model’s body.

The thick and kinetic paint covering the models’ bodies is a mixture of wallpaper paste and acrylic paint, which Langen chose as a simple technique that would let the material itself create movement.

Langen had created a collection of experimental materials previously. It was a combination of liquid latex with calcium nitrate. He is prefers this paint, as he explains –

“Because of the slowly dripping wallpaper paste, the patterns slowly change and become more intricate. Getting the right consistency of wallpaper paste was rather tricky.”

About  the choice of the music – the song is about loss and longing at a young age. And it is about the letting go of the worries and troubles. For Langen the video was an extension and works with the abstract visualisation of this idea.

“I took the idea of ‘tribal’ rituals and its costumes and masks humanity has created to commemorate and honour our deceased. These ‘tribal’ bodies in the video change and their patterns wither.”

– Langen says

Run Away is taken from Jo Goes Hunting’s Glow EP, which was released in 2015.

Other Details

Langen works around the idea that the human body is his canvas and his central theme. He believes that it has immense potential and possibilities. While through his medium he looks for a state between liquid and solid – the movement of the body provides the perfect scope.

As an artist a part of his vision is reworking the archaic form and transform it into new ones. Also  the dichotomy between the synthetic and the organic plays together with this idea,” Langen says.


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