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).