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Rosetzky, David - 2010.49

David Rosetzky

Forever 2010
HD video, colour, sound, aspect ratio 16:9
20.45 minutes
Purchased 2010

Over the past two decades, David Rosetzky’s screen-based artworks have investigated the experience of selfhood, peer relationships and contemporary life with a sense of sincerity and formal exactitude in equal measure. He has explored these themes through performance modalities that are both naturalistic and highly formal, shifting often in single works between gesture, dance and language. While ♥ Forever represents many of Rosetzky’s central preoccupations – including romantic love and the relationship between artifice and nature – it departs from earlier works by eschewing voiceover, monologue or dialogue of any kind.

The subjects of Rosetzky’s works are mostly attractive, self-conscious young adults. They express the anxiety and pleasure of negotiating desire (for love, attention, status, material objects) in relation to the self while belonging to a collective, whether that be as part of a couple, family, friendship circle or place.

Although Rosetzky’s process derives from the particular, frequently devising material based on interviews with his subjects, the works themselves feel intriguingly generic. This is partly achieved through a synthesis of setting, costume and art direction that conveys a powerful sense of mise-en-abîme – the formal technique of placing a copy within an image itself. The encounters and scenes reference the clichéd idiom of global image-making industries, from art cinema to fashion and lifestyle magazines.

♥ Forever embodies this construct most fully, using a framing device centred on the gaze. It opens with a half-dressed woman observing her lover’s sleeping face. She places a gel filter over the bedside lamp, changing it several times while watching his face in the red, blue, green and yellow glow. As in many of Rosetzky’s works, it is a gesture that treads a fine line between abstraction and naturalism.

The man awakens and they playfully tussle as they dress, swapping clothes before heading off in a 4WD for a winter day trip to the country, passing through inner-city Melbourne and onto a freeway to reach the picturesque outskirts of town. But she has become someone else. By the time they reach a lake and take a boat out on the water, he too has been replaced. They are another couple entirely. Stopping to walk in an apple orchard, to consult a map, on the road – more faces. Across the work’s twenty-minute duration, eight actors perform the interchangeable couple, in heterosexual and same-sex pairings, with different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The video closes with ‘the couple’ arriving at the foot of a hill at dusk. Rosetzky returns to the framing device at this point. The woman and her lover drag a large studio spotlight up the hill to a grassy place before connecting it to power. It lights up her face. He sits beside her and they embrace, nuzzle into one another and kiss.

The TarraWarra Biennial of Art originally commissioned ♥ Forever. It was displayed on a monitor in a free-standing purpose-built wall in front of a window. The lake in the video is the ornamental lake at TarraWarra Museum of Art: a copy of an image within itself.

Anna Zagala is a writer and curatorial assistant at UniSA Creative, the University of South Australia, Adelaide.