Nothing like this, 2007
digital video, 8:36 mins
Holiday-like. That’s how David Rosetzky’s work has always struck me. Slow, bouncing along at its own lilting speed, Rosetzky’s work is never forced or rushed; it occupies space and time comfortably. Similarly, it is formally relaxed. There are no aesthetic body blows; his subjects and their surrounds palpate a beautiful langour. Of course, the mellow chill-out vibe is always pitted against a perpetual uneasiness. His characters, whether in their physical attitude or through their monologues, are never as composed as they first appear, or as composed as the visual structure of the work otherwise prescribes.
Nothing like this, 2007, opens with one of the most glimmeringly beautiful shots seen in any of Rosetzky’s works to date. A group of twenty-somethings amble down a gentle hill. We are incredibly close to them, almost breathing down their necks. This opening, an emotionally framing series of shots, then opens into a blithe water scene. The group of kids lug a useless longboard out to a sea with no surf.
Against this concretely animated fashion magazine glamour, an audio track features monologues of gruelling holiday despair. One track has a girl complaining of being forced to go on holiday by a newish boyfriend. It is an affront – he booked it without asking her if it was okay. Fits of sulking ensue. Another track has the flipside, the male talking about trying to organise something and knowing he has, frustratingly, failed in every possible way to make the right impression. Both audio-characters display a deft understanding of themselves and the outcomes of their actions. Even so, nothing is fixed, nothing is shifted. No lessons are learnt and no deeper state of relationship is achieved; their subjective smarts mean zip. Here Rosetzky offers a Woody Allen style anti-psychology where all the self-conscious flapping of jaw in the world does not make people better or happier or saner or more connected. As a result, there is no real journey, despite the car moving, the scenery changing.
There are, however, hints that things are not as frozen as all that. This is subtly apparent in another audio tale where a girl worries about herself. She frets, in a mild, almost clinical way, about her lack of connection to her friends, her difficulty of fitting into their personal categories. Another is of a guy whose girl has wheedled into his friends and then got him dumped by them. Both are about closure. There is a sense of limit, as if the holiday, this metaphorical period of protracted adolescence, is coming to an end.
The holiday has come to an end... even though it keeps on looping, the form refusing to acknowledge its own demise. In this move, Rosetzky eschews the usual tropes of narrative conclusion, the sad-happy picking over of the good times and bad – the big season-finale hoopla shtick. Instead, Rosetzky seems to hone in on the point within the internal order of life’s changes and plays this back and back and back to us.
Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of Western Australia
Edited extract from ‘The end of the holiday’