Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to eyeCONTACT, a forum built to encourage art reviews and critical discussion about the visual culture of Aotearoa New Zealand. I'm John Hurrell its editor, a New Zealand writer, artist and curator. While Creative New Zealand and other supporters are generously paying me and other contributors to review exhibitions over the following year, all expressed opinions are entirely our own.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Unusual portrait

Bridget Smith: Killing Time
Two Rooms, Auckland
13 March - 5 April 2008

Killing Time is an extraordinary portrait of an un-named possum trapper who lives in the Ureweras, working in remote areas of mountainous bush. British artist Bridget Smith films him in his house in Tokomaru Bay as he talks about his livestyle and certain key personal events.

The film is rivetting as study of a ‘man alone’ type of self-reliant masculinity. The charismatic subject discusses his method of employment, his arduous lifestyle laying down lines of set traps, finding, killing, hanging and skinning the animals, as well as revealing his deterioration and eventual recovery from 245T poisoning, and misfortunes in love. He shows us his daily workout on the front-porch with 3 kg dumb-bells, talks of the satisfaction he gains from improving the lot of the bush and its birdlfe, and shows his pleasure at the companionship of his cat and from playing Christian rock music on his trusty old cassette tape player.

The warmth, sensitivity and articulate thoughtfulness of her subject is what gives Smith’s film its immense charm. The guy’s geographic isolation provides an underpinning of sadness, yet the footage of him talking in the morning light is magical. An immensely informative and surprisingly emotional experience.

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