Concurrently on view in the Thinkspace project room is No Broken Promises, featuring new stencil and acrylic spray paint works by husband and wife duo Jana & JS. The French/Austrian pair, collaborating since 2007, has developed a stylized stenciling practice, often using sitespecificity and portrait-based interventions into a city’s architecture to produce unexpected encounters. Working with existing structures and found materials, the pair explores the relational tension between past and present, new and old, static and variable.
Based on their photography, these images often stage emotionally jarring or poignant figurative compositions, capturing unexpected moments of intimacy, disclosure, or tenderness in impossible or unlikely contexts. With the help of dramatic shifts in scale and contrast, the superimposition of these disarmingly vulnerable narratives onto the structurally immovable or permanent alters our perception of place. Ultimately, the pair modifies the reception of context by colonizing it with the meaningful assertions of personal experience. Jana & JS explore the position of the individual within the homogenizing expanse of the urban landscape and consider how that subjectivity must find a way to exist in spite of the potentially negating and impersonal nature of life in the modern city.
Concise and impactful, Jana & JS’ works are bold, chromatic, and graphically circumscribed, recalling a quality of line essential to the language of print. Their insertion of the personal and emotive into the public domain disrupts its fundamental disavowal there, perhaps in the hopes of reassuring its continued expression and visualizing a politics of empathy.