Killer Without a Cause, 2006

Installation view: THIS IS NOT FOR YOU. Sculptural Discourses, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, Austria, 2006-2007

Photo: Michael Strasser | © Bildrecht, Vienna, 2020 | TBA21
Installation view: Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary. Collection as Aleph, Kunsthaus Graz, Graz, Austria, 2008

Photo: Niki Lackner | Landesmuseum Joanneum
Installation view: only those wild species that appeal to people will survive, Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland, 2008

Photo: Stefan Meier | Kunsthalle Basel

35 mm film installation, two Meopton IV-X film projectors, black curtains, b/w, sound
5 min 53 sec (film)
Overall dimensions ca 200 x 460 x 85 cm

The works of Ján Mančuška substantiate perception and language, addressing significant questions about fundamental comprehension in a mostly laconical way. Mančuška's aim is not so much to allocate meaning but to play with space and a sculptural, modelled vocabulary, in order to make immaterial cognitive processes seizable. In Killer Without A Cause, Mančuška subordinates the dominant regime of the image to the presence of the filmic apparatus - in the form of two 35 mm projectors. The artist prioritizes the element of language as narrative medium and foregrounds the projector and the sound loop – which traditionally are assigned to the background of any projective situation.

Below please find the text of Killer with­out a Cause:

It’s eleven o’clock in the morn­ing. The flat has one room with an ad­join­ing kitchen. A large win­dow on the left up­on en­ter­ing dom­i­nates the space. Tree branch­es par­tial­ly ob­struct the win­dow’s view. V… sits at the table and is look­ing at some­thing on the floor. If some­one were sit­ting across from him at the table, and was look­ing in his di­rec­tion, V…’s body would form a sil­hou­ette against the win­dow, but the per­son would not be see what V… is look­ing at on the floor. No one else is sit­ting at the table any­way. From a slight­ly el­e­vat­ed view­point the di­rec­tion V… is look­ing in is ap­par­ent and the space in front of him can be seen. The light, falling on the floor and part of the fur­ni­ture cre­ates a fig­ure in the shape of the win­dow. This shape mov­ing across the space de­ter­mines the time and the tem­po of the ac­tion in the flat. You can tell the time just by the shape’s po­si­tion on the floor. At least V… can, since he spends most of the day star­ing at the three slow­ly mov­ing rect­an­gles.
At ten o’clock in the morn­ing, if V… is al­ready up, the win­dow’s im­age has a three-​di­men­sion­al shape. On the left side from V….‘s per­spec­tive the shape il­lu­mi­nates the edge of a couch cov­ered by a blan­ket. It con­tin­ues to the cen­tre of the win­dow, then slides end­ways down along the side, breaks and con­tin­ues along the par­quet floor. It ends at the fourth par­quet to the right of the couch. At eleven o’clock near­ly the same shape of the win­dow is shown on the floor, ex­cept that the left edge is bent some­what and con­tin­ues to il­lu­mi­nate the edge of the couch. Time stands still at night. It’s night and then day again. A street lamp de­picts the still win­dow. In the morn­ing it’s once again pos­si­ble to tell the time. Or rather an ev­ery­day ac­tiv­i­ty that cor­re­sponds to a po­si­tion. The fifth par­quet means it’s time to brush your teeth. The right leg of the chair – time for lunch. The ne­ces­si­ty to de­ter­mine the pre­cise time would nor­mal­ly be linked to an event oc­cur­ring out­side the flat, but noth­ing V… does has any­thing to do with what hap­pens out­side. No one has vis­it­ed V... for a long time. And he doesn’t want to go see any­one. Save for a few words when shop­ping, he doesn’t say much dur­ing the day.
The next morn­ing. V… counts the par­quets to see whether it’s time to brush his teeth. He counts out loud … per­haps out loud: there’s no one around to con­firm this. The sun’s rays pen­e­trate through the win­dow. The room is stuffy. If his moth­er were still alive she’d reg­u­lar­ly check up on V… She used to be­gin each vis­it by open­ing the win­dow. V… hates to have the win­dow open.
An­oth­er one of V…’s ac­tiv­i­ties is to form var­i­ous shapes from the dif­fer­ent medicines on the table. He’s set quite a few aside over the past few years. They dif­fer in shape, colour, ill­ness that they treat, taste, chem­i­cal in­gre­di­ents, shape of box, shape of bot­tle and length of time that has elapsed from the date by which they should have been con­sumed. All these sub-​cat­e­gories play a role in how V… po­si­tions them on the table. At first, po­si­tion­ing was de­rived from more ap­par­ent, aes­thet­ic prop­er­ties. The first were colours, then shape. When he had used up most of the com­bi­na­tions, he be­gan to take in­to con­sid­er­a­tion the ar­range­ment of the pills on the table. On the table with re­gard to the room and so forth. And then the po­si­tion­ing of the par­quets be­gan to play a role. It’s late af­ter­noon and V… mas­tur­bates. The pills are spread out on the table in a 45-​de­gree an­gle to the slant of the par­quets. From left to right to the win­dow the pills are ar­ranged ac­cord­ing to a blue-​pur­ple-​red-​or­ange-​yel­low-​white se­quence. The pills cre­ate on the table a rect­an­gu­lar shape par­al­lel to the table’s edges. Thir­ty min­utes lat­er V… col­lects from the rect­an­gles the medicines of the an­ti-​al­ler­gic group. Now the pills form a grid-​like shape. He fid­gets with the pills for a while in his palm. Pur­ple is the pre­dom­i­nant colour. He be­gins to take one pill af­ter an­oth­er. When his palm is emp­ty he drinks them down and reach­es for the pills on the left side of the win­dow – the blue ones.
The next day. Five peo­ple stand around a table on which a man lies in a sleep­ing po­si­tion. The el­der­ly wom­an, the moth­er of the ly­ing man, stands by the win­dow and looks out. Three rect­an­gles of light il­lu­mi­nate her legs. They be­gin on the left side from the view to­ward the win­dow on the 23rd par­quet. A young man takes a sweater off the seat say­ing that he for­got it there the day be­fore. An­oth­er man stands by the table. “I don’t get it. We were to­geth­er al­most ev­ery day. He nev­er said a thing.”

*1972 in Bratislava, Slovakia I † 2011 in Prague, Czech Republic