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Jan Locus

The long-term pro­jects of the pho­to­grap­her and film­ma­ker Jan Locus stu­dy the com­plexi­ty of world­wi­de, socio-poli­ti­cal issues.

Since 1997 Jan Locus has tra­vel­led regu­lar­ly to Mongolia. After seven­ty years of soci­a­lism and the fall of com­mu­nism, he obser­ves how peo­p­le attempt to build a new life for them­sel­ves. Without pathos, the pho­tos in the book Mongolia (2005) show the dif­fi­cult con­di­ti­ons in the towns and the mining indu­stry, and the hard life in the vast steppe.

Mongolia has recie­ved The Plantin Moretis Award’ and was selec­ted for Photobook Belge’, a publi­ca­ti­on and exhi­bi­ti­on by FOMU, Photo Museum Antwerp (2019).

His second book Devoted (2012) shows all sorts of expres­si­ons of the Christian faith.

Garbage City (2013), Locus’s first film, shows various posi­ti­ons with regard to the dif­fe­rent ways of tre­a­ting rub­bish and the mise­ra­ble living con­di­ti­ons in (the outs­kirts of) Cairo. Garbage City com­bi­nes long shots of scraphe­aps, com­pres­sed plas­tic and hard-wor­king labou­rers with the sound of ratt­ling machi­nes, cars hooting and pige­ons cooing.

Locus’s often subt­le sound­track has a pro­mi­nent part in other works as well. Confusing Drum (2016) for example uses drum-rolls and voi­ce-overs — opi­ni­ons and poli­ti­cal sta­te­ments by locals — to talk about the deep-root­ed poli­ti­cal con­flict bet­ween Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. Confusing Drum pre­mie­red at DokFest Kassel (2017).

In The Distance bet­ween Us (2017) the sound­track plays once more a cru­ci­al part. It mixes reli­gious songs and emo­ti­o­nal­ly char­ged mes­sa­ges from a Moroccan mother to her two sons, who belong to the first gene­ra­ti­on of immi­grants. For this sound­track, the artist uses found foot­a­ge: he uses a few rare cas­set­te tapes that ser­ved as alter­na­ti­ve cor­res­pon­den­ce, which he recei­ved from a Moroccan fami­ly in Molenbeek. The Distance bet­ween Us pre­mie­red at IFFR Rotterdam (2018) and was nomi­na­ted for the Found Footage Award by IFFR.

Murmur (2019), is a col­la­bo­ra­ti­on with sound artist Stijn Demeulenaere. The film won the second pri­ze at The Engine Room International Sound Art Competition, London (UK), the first pri­ze at Split Video Art fes­ti­val, and world pre­mie­red at IFFR Rotterdam (2020).

Masters of the Land (2021), about the rise of mining and cli­ma­te chan­ge in Mongolia pre­mie­red at Rencontres Internationales Paris/​Berlin (2021). The film won the SIGNS award at the Festival inter­na­zi­o­na­le Segni del­la Notte, (Urbino, IT), and the award for Best Video Art at the 2021 Hummingbird Film Festival (ID).