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  Nicholas HANSEN


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Nicholas HANSEN
Rushes
31 July to 24 August 2013

The Rushes exhibition restages photos and film produced as I scouted Richmond for film locations in 1992. These old gritty B&W photos, in combination with a new video work, re-examine the documentary genre in its pre-digital format. At night amongst the train gangs, commuters and atmospheric back streets, the photographic film grain was pushed as it searched out pockets of light. Reprinted and shown for the first time, this exhibition is like a burst time capsule, Rushes returns to these records of Richmond, both altered and transitory.

These photographs resurfaced late in 2012 having been rescued after being water damaged in storage. This work is now complete. The erupting print surface is re-animated with a painterly decay, these pictures energise my enquiry into the photograph as record. Like looking back from twenty-one years in the future to observe: we live in very interesting times!

Over the course of this series I lived in then South Richmond, now Cremorne. From the late 1980’s, Australia was in Keating’s ‘recession we had to have’. The mood was glum and there was no better place to observe this than the oft-congested travel hub of Richmond Station. The daily commuter struggle meant the place was a hive of repressed expression.  

As trains load and unload, the platforms and underpasses support the throng suspended above Hoddle St and its own peak hour traffic. Thumbs Up Richmond Station underpass pictures an anonymous commuter, who with a defiant optimism, stops to pose with VB beer in hand. This commuter’s gaze is returned to the viewer, as if to ask: ‘what are you reading?’ I wonder what he is now doing? 

Richmond, its train station and associated networks are at the heart of this series. These photos document and assess viable photogenic locations and future sites for filming. As a series, the photos reveal the beginnings of a filmic narrative, a map for future plot points. 

The train line, night works crews emerged around 1.00am to replace train lines and sleepers between Richmond and South Yarra stations. In these ‘scenes’ workers toil, starkly lit as they perform tasks with crowbars, welders, spanners and drills. These workers are characterised as performers in a Samuel Beckett play, a projected othering.

The photos of late night back streets of Richmond were lit by street lamps and car headlights, revealing early wild-style graffiti, mural projects and political slogans like ‘Protect the ozone layer now'! The hard work of ‘fixing’ these photos was undone by damp storage conditions. This artwork was not created intentionally: it is collaboration with serendipity. The artistic act was in recovering and recognizing their merit.

Also on show is the new video work Rushes. This documentary is re-edited from the super 8 film rushes filmed for my short drama ‘Vena Cava’ (1992). This live action and animated short film symbolically portrayed characters journeying in a transport system, which pushed them forward to their final city and business destinations. Rushes restores the work into a take-by-take archive, remaking an interim stage of production.

This series unpacks the theatrical drive. Through the frayed photographic surface rises visual subtext, to test these figurative representations. Rushes explores the traditional methodologies of film production to unbind the cross-genre docudrama play. The subjects retreat from the genre in which they were fixed. The decay in Rushes disrupts an emphatic reading, of normalcy in the landscape, to discourage cinematic nostalgia.

Nicholas Hansen
Melbourne July 2013


Rushes Richmond Walk

Saturday 10th August at 2.00pm and Saturday 17th August at 11.30pm, a one hour local walk departs the gallery which reconnects the altered scenes in the field with those in the show (& vice versa). Meeting in the upstairs gallery a half hour before departing Place Gallery. It’s free, bring your camera and an umbrella just in case, all welcome. Email RSVP.


Nicholas Hansen Website