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Workshop by Curator Mercedes Vicente – Darcy Lange: Hard, however, and useful is the small, day-to-day work

21 Sep 2015, Mon - 22 Sep 2015, Tue 1:00pm - 4:00pm

As part of overarching research theme PLACE.LABOUR.CAPITAL., the 2-day workshop Darcy Lange: Hard, however, and useful is the small, day-to-day work conducted by Curator Mercedes Vicente takes the video and photographic work of New Zealand Darcy Lange (1946-2005) as the starting point for discussions concerning the representation of labour. During the 1970s, Lange developed a socially engaged video practice, with remarkable studies of people at work that draw from documentary traditions as well as conceptual and structuralist videomaking. Lange explored the issue of labour in Britain, New Zealand and Spain. Like Allan Sekula’s adherence to a critical realism in his photographic practice, Lange reintroduced too the social referentially in his photography and videomaking and stressed the “responsibility to keep questioning the nature and power of realism”. With his seminal style of real-time, unedited, without commentary, lengthy observations of workers that came to characterise his Work Studies series (1972-77), Lange aimed to “convey the image of work as work, as an occupation, as an activity, as creativity and as a time consumer”.

Through a selection of videos based on thematic and aesthetic concerns, this workshop will address labour as a theme and examine its representation from its multiple phenomenological, socio-political, art historical and theoretical perspectives. It will consider the representation of labour in Lange’s studies of people at work in its manifold meanings, including work and the human body as an expression of class and identity, and work as a performative gesture and its choreographic dimension. It will address the politics of representation and Lange’s interest in exploring the political and critical potential of video and the relationship between the camera, subject and spectator. In his series Work Studies in Schools (1976-77), the studies of teachers’ performances were extended by the videotaping of the teachers’ and pupils’ reactions to the recordings, becoming an intrinsic part of the document. Subscribing to the Marxist ideals of the democratisation of culture, Lange saw in Work Studies in Schools another way of making documentaries that insisted on this democratic process, speaking of these tapes as “our collective truth”. Seen by the artist as “researches” and “an educational process” and by exposing the process, Lange’s videos become in themselves studies of videotaping as a work activity. Much of Lange’s work is an attempt to redefine the basis of his art activity and its function and social purpose.

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In the framework of Darcy Lange: Hard However, and useful is the small, day-to-day work a workshop by Mercedes Vicente, Indonesian Visual Art Archive (IVAA) will give a presentation on archival work in Indonesia at Singapore Art Archive Project space by Koh Nguang How, former NTU CCA Singapore Artist-in-Residence.