Museum of Contemporary Art, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Henry Ergas, 2009
super 8mm film transferred to single-channel digital video, black and white, silent
8 min 53s
Patrick Hartigan creates subtle, evocative and acutely observed works utilising a range of media including collage, watercolour, film, sound and installation – and more recently oil painting has become his primary focus.
Dog, Horse, Museum Piece comprises three short films that have been transferred to video and looped as a continuous work. They are ambiguous in genre, a cross between experimental film, documentary and home video. Each is silent, and possesses a formal beauty in the choice and sequencing of images, whilst illustrating Hartigan’s interest in the question of framing.
Museum Piece was filmed in the Natural History Museum of Vienna during its renovation. He used black-and-white Super 8 film, a medium he chose because of its texture and unpredictability.
In this work he juxtaposes the ‘heavily veiled forms’ of the museum displays with views through the windows framing Vienna, a city he sees as resembling a museum itself at times. In the film, the caretakers, visitors and even a shopping trolley, take on some of the mystique of a museum exhibit, framed not only by the architecture but also by the camera lens itself. Displays of stuffed birds, primates and deer also possess a heightened presence, each creature on the verge of moving.
Dog and Horse are short experimental films. In Horse the camera is tightly focused on the horse’s face, revealing the irritation that persistent flies cause to the animal’s eyes. Dog consists of a single shot of a dog standing in bright sunlight, focused intently on something beyond the frame. The snippet of film embodies the experience of the dog, its taut expectancy and the way its bark inhabits its whole being.
[I am interested in] … the most mundane and immediately perceivable forms of human existence (at least in my own life) bumping against the heavily veiled forms found in museum classification.