David Rosetzky: One in Five
Sutton Gallery Project Space 230 Young St. Fitzroy
& Obüs, 4/289 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
February 28th – March 30th 2008
L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program
David Rosetzky ruminates on identity and disaffectedness in his suite of portraits in One in Five, part of the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival cultural program. His exploration of hybrid identities and the rules and systems of personal relationships, contrasts with the emphasis on surface and heavy engagement with the hyper-real systems of advertising and contemporary
consumerism that we associate with the fashion system.
In a continuation of his series Without You, Rosetzky has collaborated with Kylie Zerbst of Melbourne label Obüs to produce photographic collage works whose impassive subjects exude a contemporary ennui. The collages are intricate, yet retain an air of the homemade. Rosetzky has layered a series of portraits over Obüs designed geometric patterned backgrounds, strategically
cutting out organic shapes to reveal different photographic layers below. This peeling away of surface, of skin, not only critiques the modes and structures by which we construct our identity, it also alludes to the in-between spaces – spaces where hybrid subjectivities can break down barriers between the self and other.
However, these works are also ambiguous. On the one hand, Rosetzky actively critiques the systems of the fashion industry – its emphasis on surface and consumerism – but on the other, the works are themselves embedded with the signifiers of such a system. All of the subjects used in this series are clothed in Obüs and almost act as amateur models for the label’s new collection.
They are all pretty, young and nubile, displaying a distinctly youthful air of cool. The fact that some of these works were shown at the Obüs store in Melbourne’s CBD and were also actively promoted as part of the fashion festival’s cultural program suggests that Rosetzky’s technique of peeling away the surface of his subjects and exploring a merging of identities becomes a critique
of the fashion industry from within. But, when these works are hung in a retail environment they can also be read as beautiful portraits realised at part of the store’s visual merchandising strategy. Was this ambiguity and shift in meaning intentional? This remains unclear.
However, Rosetzky has produced works that transcend this ambiguity and succeed in being both uneasy and aesthetic. In a heavily staged portrait titled Adeline the subject is dressed in an Obüs geometric print blouse. Instead of a highly stylised and themed fashion shot based purely on appearance and exteriority, there is a distinct sense of tension and awkwardness in her pose. It is as if her feelings, emotions and arbitrary anxieties are much closer to the surface, unfolding in front of our eyes. We gaze into the cut out shapes, which act as voyeuristic viewing holes, or portals, into a personal struggle in-between the private and the public, elation and despair. The collage is both candid and contemplative, responding to the artificiality of the fashion industry. Indeed, as advertising imagery and the media continue to consume our daily existence, where can
we seek refuge in a world that is increasingly out of our control?
Copyright Leon Goh & Photofile 2008