Jacek Ludwig Scarso (PhD) is an internationally exhibited artist, curator and academic, whose work 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: since graduating from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, he has combined his performance work as Artistic Director of award-winning Elastic Theatre, receiving funding grants from Wellcome Trust, ACE and Jerwood, with his independent profile as interdisciplinary artist. 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, York Art Gallery, 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), Palazzo Ca’ Zanardi and Galleria ArteSpazioTempo (Venice), 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 Reader in Art and Performance at the School of Art Architecture and Design (AAD, London Metropolitan University), where he completed his PhD in Artistic Research and where he holds the honorary title of University Teaching Fellow. At the AAD, he directs the new MA Public Art & Performance, in association with Tate Exchange and is Deputy Director of CREATURE (Research Centre for Creative Arts, Cultures and Engagement), leading its strand PUBLIC-FACE.
He is an Associate Artist of Anise Gallery in London and Curator of Fondazione Marta Czok in Rome. He is a member of the Tate Exchange Research Steering Group and Senior Advisor on Public Space for City Space Architecture (Italy).
Visit Jacek Ludwig Scarso’s CV.
Watch below a short documentary on Jacek’s work.
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.