In Profile: David Rosetzky, Gaps

Urszula Dawkins

David Rosetzky, Gaps, ACMI

David Rosetzky, Gaps, ACMI

Watching David Rosetzky’s new video work, Gaps, is not a passive occupation. One spends the whole time questioning: how much is this ‘performance’ and how much is it ‘real’? On a wall-sized screen, four dancers/performers and their words and gestures permutate and loop within two sparse rehearsal spaces; one white and daylit, the other lined by dark curtains. The viewer is drawn in close, ‘people-watching’ at intimate range, yet distanced by the seductive formality of every element in the frame.

Gaps is ‘people’ writ large: the camera, shooting in high definition, manufactures closeness, even in the wide shots, revealing the creases of lips, the knit of a t-shirt, strands of hair, fingernails. Performers share personal thoughts related to identity: about how they think the world sees them; or how they avoid conflict; or on living through a revolution. Over 35 minutes, then looping seamlessly back to the start, the same texts—based on interviews with the performers—are spoken by different bodies, disabling any hope of pinpointing who first said what.

Discussing Gaps, David Rosetzky says that the process of separating the text from its origin functions in a number of ways: “It allows it to be used in quite an experimental way rather than being tied to any particular truth…The transposition of a text from one subject to another, or being shared amongst a group of performers, is used in part to provoke questioning and potentially destabilise assumptions that the audience may have about any particular set of characteristics of the on-screen subjects.” Also destabilised is the logical opposition of spontaneous vs artificial, highlighting the blurs between how we speak and how we ‘perform’ ourselves.

Stephanie Lake’s choreography for Gaps gives physical form to what hangs in the air between the four performers. Fingers tremble or limbs fold, like unspoken sentences or manifestations of inner conflict. Rosetzky describes Lake’s approach as “beautiful, precise and intuitive…able to bring a range of different emotive tonalities, speeds and textures.” Rosetzky chose David Franzke as sound designer/composer for Gaps, for his “sense of connection with the performers…emphasising the various tonal shifts within the work.”

David Rosetzky, Gaps, ACMI

David Rosetzky, Gaps, ACMI

Gaps is technically accomplished—both slickly produced and intensely human; distancing yet intimate; cool but seductive. Its formal precision is unsettling, the performers smoothly ‘screened off’ from the viewer. And yet they are so near: presences that almost breathe, but without the work ever approaching the uncanny or immersive. Video lends itself to these qualities, says Rosetzky, in ways that live dance performance may not: “I think the moving image as a medium provides exciting opportunities to position the perspective of the viewer in quite dynamic ways. One can create a great sense of intimacy and connection to the performance through the use of different camera shots and movement. The shift between proximity and distance is something that I find very interesting to work with. The ability to create different speeds, rhythms and intensities is also something that appeals to me about working with the moving image.”

David Rosetzky, Gaps, ACMI

David Rosetzky, Gaps, ACMI

Removing the possibility of matching words to specific bodies also allows the questioning of “authentic subjectivity;” the opportunity to present “the idea of the self and identity as shifting and relative” and the creation of “a more fractured and unstable subject that is perhaps more difficult to identify.” says Rosetzky (ACMI program notes). In an interview he elaborates: “In Gaps I was interested in exploring identity as something that could be played out and explored by the cast in relation to each other and the camera. Rather than establishing characters as such, I wanted to present a range of subject positions that were never completely formed or held on to, but rather, operating more like possibilities—in flux and shifting between the different performers.”

The careful casting of two dancers (Lee Serle and Jessie Oshodi) alongside two actors (Rani Pramesti and Dimitri Baveas), has allowed Rosetzky to further shift and juxtapose personae and to explore sameness and difference in their representations on the screen, as they perform both alone and together. He says, “The work required that the actors had a facility for movement and similarly the dancers had to have experience in working with text. Other than this, I was keen for them to be clearly distinct from one another—both in terms of their appearance and also their particular qualities of performance…I am very interested in our desire to connect with one another and the way we attempt to negotiate the space between our selves and others.”

David Rosetzky, Gaps, Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), 5 Aug 2014-8 Feb 2015; jointly commissioned by ACMI and Carriageworks; http://www.acmi.net.au/exhibitions/current/david-rosetzky-gaps/

RealTime issue #122 Aug-Sept 2014 pg. web

© Urszula Dawkins; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

17 September 2014
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