Darcy Lange: Work Studies 1974 - 77

Darcy Lange, Vern Hume, Aerial Top Dressing, Taranaki, New Zealand, 1974. Still photograph. Courtesy of Darcy Lange Estate

20 August - 20 September 2009
Mala galerija, Slovenska cesta 35, Ljubljana

Curated by Mercedes Vicente.
The project has been selected in the Igor Zabel Competition.

Exhibition presents a body of work by New Zealand video pioneer Darcy Lange (1946-2005) focused on the subject of work. In 1972 he started videotaping under the general theme of 'people at work' in English factories, mines and schools and continued documenting workers' lives in rural New Zealand and Spain.

Thematically, "people at work" situates Lange's work within a lineage of social documentary film and photography and a shared ideological history with 1930s American FSA (Farm Security Administration) photographers Dorothea Lange and Lewis Hine. With these seminal works, he used the 'long take', recording people's actions in real time as they performed daily working tasks. His restless experimentation with the structural possibilities of the moving and still image, led to a parallel use of photography, film and video, simultaneously shot.

The capacity for early portable video to provide live and taped feedback, unlike film or photography, meant it could serve as a medium for criticism and analysis, and a catalyst for social change. Lange stressed the relationship with the subjects of his recordings by playing back the recorded material to them. In his work studies in Birmingham and Oxfordshire schools, Lange recorded teachers in the classrooms, then the teacher's and the student's reactions to the tapes.

The absence of electronic editing equipment in the early stages of video, which prevented shaping a tape into a finish product, further encouraged the development of a 'process' video aesthetic. This emphasis on process was shared by other contemporary artistic practices of the 1970s like conceptual, performance and land art.

Unlike television, Lange's work does not allow at-a-glance reading. Without the intervention of montage or use of dramatic sequences of multiple takes and camera angles, Lange?s videos rely exclusively on the process of slow observation provided by the long takes. The viewer sees the action unfold at the same speed on the screen as he/she views it.

Lange never saw these tapes as finished works but as 'researches' and 'an educational process'. The reactions of his subjects to the tapes became as much part of the body of work, guiding him in its development. By exposing the process, Lange's videos become in themselves studies of videotaping as a work activity.

Mercedes Vicente is a curator at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Zealand.

Related events:

Lecture by Mercedes Vicente on Thursday, 20 August at 6 p.m. and opening of the exhibition at 8 p.m. at the Mala galerija, Slovenska cesta 35, Ljubljana.

The project has been supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia.

Opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday 10.00 - 15.30 & 16.00 - 18.00. Free admission.

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