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Hey! Student

Forum > Reviews

Hey Student!

Mark Williams at New Zealand Film Archive - Wgtn
22 Sep 2007 - 14 Oct 2007

by David Cauchi

gary-1 I clench my fist and sing this tune:
I said Hey student, hey student, hey student,
You're gonna get it through the head,
I said Hey student, hey student, hey student,
You're gonna get it through the head, I said...
Well, walking to work,
It's always students that I meet

- Mark E Smith

The Film Archive needs a bigger gallery – especially for this kind of carry on. Apparently the one at Auckland’s been showing Elam students’ work for the last seven years. Now, thanks to the initiative of curator Mark Williams (who’s been driving a particularly strong exhibition programme), Wellington’s Massey students get the chance to show off their stuff.

The gallery was packed for the opening, both with work and people. The tone was set when you walked in to be confronted by Sarah Hudson’s Gary and the Kemarasaur, a trite story about the consequences of playing up at school in the bad old days of smacking told using animated childhood drawings and the relevant primary school class photo.

Unfortunately, when I came in, the wall at the back was playing (as one of four works it scrolled through) Brooke Wagstaff’s A dash of panache, which was all very high school drama production and gobsmackingly dreadful. I don’t understand why it made the cut.

I did, however, persevere, despite that inauspicious combination and despite being horribly hungover. I ended up finding a spot next to Maia McDonald’s some-thing. This came accompanied by a heavy duty academic quote (complete with footnote), but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It was a nice homage to the Surrealist films of the 20s – stilettos on top of a mirror (I’m always a sucker for playing with picture planes) – and went very well with Giles Whitaker’s abstract Ringscape on the back wall.

McDonald’s work is probably meant to make you think of Lee Miller, but the shoes admiring themselves in the mirror reminded me of Hans Richter’s Vormittagsspruk, where four bowler hats go for a spree in the ten minutes before midday. Whitaker’s work, where sound generates images and vice versa, is a variation on the optophone that obsessed Richter’s colleague Raoul Hausmann.

My possie also enabled me to watch Debbie Allen’s Dog love, which was easily my favourite. Her supporting material says it all: ‘This is a work that portrays the love I have for my puppy dog Chewy (she resembled Chewbacca as a pup).’

When Gemma Syme’s Pounding pussy came on the back wall (if you’ll excuse the phrasing), it went very well with both McDonald’s and Allen’s works, putting a whole different complexion on both of them.

By this stage though I couldn’t take it any more and went out for a nice cigarette away from the hordes. I never made it back into the gallery, cos I got waylaid by the shall we say exuberant performance of Trimasterbate. I did hear that Darryl Walker’s But that’s me is worth checking out. Apparently it’s about someone who’s modelled their life on a character from the Aussie soap Prisoner.

When a crowd of excited students came charging in wearing the requisite performance costume of brightly coloured lycra, masks, and wigs, I did recall the words of the Fall song the show’s title is derived from (quoted above), but that’s just cos I’m a grumpy old bastard. There might be a bit more enthusiasm than sense, but they’re having fun and not taking themselves too seriously. The kids are all right.
But-1 dog-1 but2-1


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