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JH

A Room With A View

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Steven Chow, You leave, I Stay Behind, 2012, film still, dual channel HD video Steven Chow, You leave, I Stay Behind, 2012, film still, dual channel HD video Steven Chow, You leave, I Stay Behind, 2012, film still, dual channel video Steven Chow, You leave, I Stay Behind, 2012, dual channel HD video, at Te Tuhi. Photo: Sam Hartnett. Steven Chow, You leave, I Stay Behind, 2012, dual channel HD video, at Te Tuhi. Photo : Sam Hartnett Steven Chow, You leave, I Stay Behind, 2012,film still, dual channel HD video

In the Te Tuhi gallery blurb, Chow mentions his love of Andrei Tarkovsky and Chantal Akerman, and there is perhaps a hint of those great directors here, except short video loops provide a different context entirely to say long pans inserted into a film. An installation is set up for the audience to come and go at will, and quite different from a cinematic experience with a definite beginning and end.

Auckland

 

Steven Chow
You leave, I stay behind

 

17 November 2012 - 10 February 2013

In this dual channel video installation with looped projections both sides of a freestanding wall, Auckland artist Steven Chow presents an enigmatic examination of place and self - using spatially opposed vistas observed through the same set of high-rise rectangular windows and vertical strip blinds. Qualities of time and light have different accentuations as you move back and forth, scrutinising and circumnavigating the two illuminated planes, sites for quiet contemplation.

One side shows a view out of a Hobson St apartment window in Auckland on New Year’s Eve night: looking down Kingston Street, east towards Albert Park. We see the spasmodic reflections of firework displays flaring up on the side of buildings, and hear the thunderlike explosions; also the muffled roar of crowds we see in the distance standing on street corners. The other a view of the Southern Alps: bright snow-caked mountain sides and a silver lake patterned with ripples from falling drizzle. The light here is regular and intense, the sound dominated by raindrops gently hitting the lake surface.

Chow’s mood here is understated and focussed on landscape. Even the city vista becomes a sort of moonlit canyon, a place perhaps to inspire poetry. There’s no music at all, just soft aural ‘natural’ punctuations and a calming ambience.

The movement in the Auckland scene is only the occasional flicker of phosphorous glow bouncing off vertical walls, and for the mountains, barely detectable splashes on the lake or an invasive breeze now and then disturbing the apartment’s Venetian blind. Narrative here is in abeyance, a sort of eternal present - tiny repeatable dramas to be savoured.

In the Te Tuhi gallery blurb, Chow mentions his love of Andrei Tarkovsky and Chantal Akerman, and there is perhaps a hint of those great directors here, except short video loops provide a different context entirely to say long pans inserted into a film. An installation is set up for the audience to come and go at will, and quite different from a cinematic experience with a definite beginning and end.

While your eyes may take a while to adjust as you feel your way through the darkness to find each of the two benches on each side of the wall, once settled it is hard to leave. The constant window seems to be part of a spaceship or form of astral projection. Even without that framing element, the subdued colour and discreet sound are slyly mesmerising, compelling pleasure for both body and mind.

John Hurrell

 

 

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