Jesper Just b. 1974
No Man Is an Island (2002)

Duration: 3'45

No Man Is an Island is the earliest video made when Just was a student at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. It's an impressive debut with his later trademarks in nascent form. An older man begins dancing in a public square, oblivious to the laughing gawkers who pass by. He seems to want to engage the attention of a young man sitting on a bench who begins weeping.

A group of youngsters mimics and mocks the dancer. He's oblivious to them. The music is a sprightly tune that Fred Astaire might have used as he enticed Ginger Rogers into his arms. And didn't he do a lot of dancing in the streets in his movies? Nobody laughed at him. But, of course, he was only on a pretend street in a Hollywood soundstage. We know this is also a setup. Still, it's embarrassing. They're making public displays of themselves. The man, expressionless, continues to dance. The other man continues to weep. One kid starts taking the performance seriously and joins in the dance as a sort of pas de deux. Both men ignore him. And then it's over. We don't know why it began or ended. Courting ritual or celebration of self, it's unclear.