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Patrick Hartigan

Dog  2005-2006

super 8mm film transferred to single-channel digital video, black and white, silent

8mins 53sec (complete length of show reel with 3 works)

Museum of Contemporary Art, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Henry Ergas, 2009

2009.46

About the Artwork

Dog, Horse, Museum Piece comprises three short films that have been transferred to video and looped as a continuous work. They were filmed during a six-month sojourn in Europe in 2005 and 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.

Dog consists of a single shot of a small dog standing in bright raking sunlight, focused intently on something beyond the frame. It struts onto centre stage where it proceeds to bark – a bark we cannot hear but which we intuit through the posture of the dog as it enthusiastically throws itself into its activity. The snippet of film embodies the experience of the dog, its taut expectancy and the way its bark inhabits its whole being.

Horse is a close-up of a horse’s eye fringed by flies. The horse moves its head, trying to dislodge them. The work brings forth an ordinary, everyday detail from the natural world.

Museum Piece was filmed in the Natural History Museum of Vienna during its renovation. Hartigan 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. Displays of stuffed birds, primates and deer also possess a heightened presence, each creature on the verge of moving.

As I wandered through the museum my attention was divided between the museum exhibits, the ‘backstage’ appearance of maintenance workers and their gear, and the windows which gave onto the world outside; to a city which is in some ways a bigger museum.

Patrick Hartigan, 2010

Patrick Hartigan

– About the artist

Born 1977, Sydney. Lives and works Sydney.


Patrick Hartigan creates subtle, evocative and acutely observed works utilising a range of media including collage, watercolour, film, sound, short stories and installation. Oil painting has since become his primary focus. Much of his work is made in response to other artists, artworks and museum environments.

Hartigan has been exhibiting since 2002 and has been selected for a number of group exhibitions, including Solitaire, Tarrawarra Museum of Art, Healesville, Victoria (2014); Octopus 13, Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, Melbourne (2013); All you need is love, Melbourne Art Foundation/Domain Chandon, Coldstream, Victoria (2012); MCA: New Acquisitions in Context, MCA, Sydney (2011); Constellations: A Large Number of Small Drawings, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne (2010); I Walk the Line: New Australian Drawing, MCA, Sydney (2009); Wanderlust, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth (2008);  Life is Sweet: Contemporary Australian Watercolours, Gippsland Art Gallery, Sale (2007); and Tomorrow, another day, Artspace, Sydney (2006).

Hartigan’s work is held in numerous collections including the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, New Zealand; University of Wollongong; and Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne.

Learn more
– Other works by the artist

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