Catalogue essay by Andy Thomson
for 'Last Ride in a Hot Air Balloon: The 4th Auckland Triennial' curated by Natasha Conland, Auckland 2010
Laresa Kosloff’s films witness active social events and the
geometries of the built environment staged through the frame of the
lens. The medium of Super 8 film allows Kosloff a direct process
for recording motion that is inflected by its properties as miniature
format film stock. It is Super 8’s capacity for articulating
a particular pace and movement in monochrome that produces a remove
from the specificity of time and place in her films. By confounding
our ability to analyse the work’s temporal and spatial index,
she creates a foil to unthinking apprehension. Instead, she helps
us instead to encounter the actions of filming and watching, and
the activity taking on place on the screen, as something of uncertain
but evident value.
In her film Stock Exchange, 1998, selected for the Triennial,
she presents us with a carefully framed simple panning shot of the
exterior horizontal and vertical planes of the stock exchange building
in Melbourne. Freed from our grounded bodies and the orienting tasks
of vision, the lens facilitates the roaming of our mind and eyes
in a new appraisal of all that is moving in front of us. The
camera’s fluid mobility slows apprehension and our bodies are
let loose from that measured perspective that grounds or elevates
our vision in strict relationship with known space. Though we might
surmise that the camera is in a lift, it does not disrupt the pleasure
of our new mobility, nor diminish the fascination created by our
ability to watch the various social exchanges taking place on screen, ‘in
In Trapeze, 2009, and St. Kilda Road, 2010, the
culture of the city’s spectacle is caught and occasioned by the
act of filming. Kosloff captures short clips of urban gymnasts.
In these city contexts, we watch via the agency of her filming a select
social unfolding. The people that move in and out of the frame
appear somnambulant, as if performing their collective action in a preserve
of space outside of real time. For over ten years, Kosloff has
filmed these incidental sporting events, performances and spaces. Transferring
the fragile celluloid images to video, she has formed a singular archive
of urban social activity where collective memory and imagination is
restored and made real.
Kosloff is dedicated to inducing in us a thoughtful onlooking, of how
it is that we watch, in the common spaces of the public realm. As documents
of the trained and untrained body in situated action, Kosloff’s
films demonstrate risk-taking as a sporting, work or leisure activity
and describe the body and its movement in urban space as the subject
of her focus. Yet, the question remains – who is the work for?
Standing in front of her films, we are made acutely aware of our watching
and the stillness and separation of our viewing. Could these carefully
distanced works with their studied casualness mask a future intent?
Perhaps they reveal a critical yet empathetic awareness of our equally
performing selves to an audience in a temporal zone other than our own.