Jacek Ludwig Scarso stretches theatrical experiences across live performance, video, photography and installation. Born in Rome of Polish, British and Italian origins, he lives and works in London. Jacek’s creative process stems from his background in performance and vocal studies, having trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. His projects, investigating intersections between practices of theatricality and contemporary art, have been exhibited worldwide. These include recent shows and commissions at Tate Exchange / Tate Modern, MACRO Museo di Arte Contemporanea (Rome), the Science Museum, GV Art Gallery and InTRANSIT (London), Fotofever at Carrousel du Louvre, Pave D’Orsay and Cutlog (Paris), BAW and The Living Theater (New York), MIA (Milan), Galleria Civica Cavour (Padua), Weissraum Gallery (Kyoto, Japan), CICA Museum (Gyeonggi-do, South Korea), Tai Kwun (Hong Kong), Photo Docks (Lyon), Vkunst (Frankfurt) and Kunstwerk Carlshütte (Budelsdorf) where his video-works are included in the Nord Art Collection. Jacek is a collaborationg artist with Anise Gallery in London and Romberg Arte Contemporanea in Rome. He is also the Artistic Director of the award-winning Elastic Theatre in London and is Reader in Art and Performance at the Sir John Cass School of Art Architecture and Design (London Metropolitan University), where he completed his PhD in artistic research and where he holds the honorary title of University Teaching Fellow. He is currently developing a new curatorial enterprise with Studio CS and Fondazione Marta Czok in Italy. He is UK correspondent for Exibart Art Magazine (Italy).
Visit Jacek Ludwig Scarso’s CV.
Where does theatre stop and reality begin? Over the years, I have been fascinated by live performance, by staging a fictional world. As I’ve continued to work on this premise, I’ve realised that it’s not so much drama or plays that interest me, but what it means to make something theatrical. To be theatrical. That word has for me very special implications. I look at the world around me and see it as a staged picture: people as characters, the environment as a set, and human interactions as choreography.
I explore theatricality outside of the theatre, and more and more in galleries, museum spaces and unexpected locations. The work takes the form of installations, dioramas, photography, video and digital collaborations. Yet all is linked by the attempt to make things theatrical. Then of course there is live performance itself: being there, seeing something in the flesh. Liveness can be emulated, but it can never be repeated.
I approach my work as the “orchestration of experiences”: I like to explore a playful depiction of human fragility and absurdity. My performance background has instilled in me a fascination for the composition of bodies in time and space: dramatic and visceral, these bodies are parts of complex stories told in stark minimal settings. In sharing ideas with others, teaching is also a vital vehicle. My projects always include practical workshops, based on the same ideas that I explore artistically. That collective process of trying out creative ideas together is vital for me. Just like in a theatre, it’s the participation of a group that makes an experience meaningful, memorable and truly theatrical.