Art #2
Catalogue essay by Hannah Matthews for 'Art#2' curated by ACCA, Horsham Regional Gallery, 2011

Laresa Kosloff’s artworks incorporate a range of approaches to making, including Super 8 film, choreographed video works, performance, drawing and hand drawn animation. Characterised by her exploration of the figure in relation to social values and aesthetic formalism, Kosloff’s interests extend to the significance of movement, gesture and abstraction, and the body’s relationship with systems aspiring to purity (including geometry, architecture and sport). Kosloff often uses humour and the absurd in her work, alternating these with a nuanced and sensitive eye. Her practice embraces various representational strategies, each one linked by an interest in the body and its agency within the everyday.

In the ART#2 exhibition, four of Kosloff’s recent Super 8 films are presented. Working with Super 8 for over a decade, Kosloff has made a series of films that document snippets of social interaction in public spaces. These works were originally captured by the artist on Super 8 film stock before being transferred into digital files and screened without sound. Their grainy quality retains some of Super 8’s idiosyncrasies, however, Kosloff resists the implications of nostalgia on our viewing experience, describing these works as having, ‘an uncanny quality... to do with the image composition and the texture of the footage in relation to the filmed activity’.1

Documented in black and white, Trapeze (2009) captures the rhythmic movement of trapeze artists performing in Melbourne’s CBD. The figures enter and exit the screen from left and right. They move like magnets, resisting each other in parallel before flipping and joining as one. Their actions are choreographed and disciplined yet embody a sense of freedom. Set against the backdrop of a modernist office block, Kosloff frames this performance as a reminder of the contrasts between work and play, architecture and the body, structure and movement.

Capital (2011) counters this energetic display with a reflective atmosphere of stillness. Here we watch a man sitting in his office within the Tokyo Stock Exchange building. We view him through what appears to be his reflection in a nearby window that looks out onto a cityscape. In this work Kosloff presents us with two images conflated using Super 8 and digital processes. By layering this footage – documentation of a model New York cityscape (made for the 1939 World Trade Fair) and a man working at his desk – Kosloff demonstrates modernism’s greatest paradigm: the disembodied and unconscious power of the individual in relation to the collective structures of the city.

In Liberty (2011) stillness is performed. Documented by Kosloff on a series of visits to Rome and presented in a gridded format, the work presents four recordings of street mime artists posing as the Statue of Liberty. Dressed in various hues of concrete grey, these performers hold up their right arm, torch in hand, and tenuously attempt to hold the posture of the universal icon over a period of time. Kosloff is interested in durational performance and the trained body. In collating these portraits together she demonstrates the nuanced subtleties of mimesis and it’s individual and idiosyncratic existence in the everyday.

Red & White Run (2011) focuses on a ‘fun run’ event featuring a crowd of people dressed in Santa costumes jogging through an urban setting of white public sculptures. Filmed at Melbourne’s Docklands, the looped footage presents a continuous stream of behavior that is incongruous to its setting. Through the humorous depiction of this scene, Kosloff activates a tension between conformity and individuality. She ask us to consider the way shared performance can positively claim public space.

Originally interested in ‘the design rhetoric of architecture and how certain buildings choreograph human behavior’, Kosloff has turned her attention to how people, both individuals and groups, claim and use public space for their own purposes. The works presented in ART#2 illustrate her careful observation of the minutiae of everyday life, capturing uncanny combinations that encourage us to wonder at our present social condition.

1. All quotations by the artist taken from Alicia Frankovich / Laresa Kosloff / Ruth Proctor: If sameness is in the centre, then difference is on the periphery, exhibition sheet, Starkwhite, Auckland, 8 March - 2 April 2011