“Interviewer: Is reality ephemeral and how do you get real?
David Rosetzky: The surface.”
That quote was from an old interview I found in Sculpture magazine. The interviewer was talking to David Rosetzky and Lyndal Walker about their work and 1st Floor, an artist-run space they’d opened with a group of colleagues a few years earlier.
The interview is from 1999, which would have made Rosetzky about 29 years old at the time. Judging by the retrospective of his work currently on show at CCP (until Sept 15), Rosetzky has been toying with some variation of this question and answer for the last 15 years.
In his videos, bright-eyed young things act out familiar physical and verbal tics. The actors mimic patterns of speech, gesture and thought that – when isolated and performed repetitively – transform into a kind of social dance.
To get at the real, says Rosetzky, we need to scrutinise the surface. And, like the company of someone who’s spent countless hours scrutinising themselves in therapy, the videos are funny, pretentious, annoying, narcissistic, silly, serious, insightful and boring. With your eyes closed they sound like a super-cut of every honest conversation you’ve ever had or heard.
In recent years the videos have gotten more elaborate and much longer – How to Feel from 2011 clocks in at 108 minutes – and I often wish Rosetzky would just make a movie already. Standing in gallery with a pair of headphones is no way to watch these works. If he’s going to pay us such close attention, it would be nice someday to return the favour.