Heather Bennett 2010 c.
Rivington is a strangely telling document. Once the concept is set, the location rented, the props in place, composition directives given and make-up applied, there is only to sit in a rumpled white bed and play the part of the intended fiction. The video Rivington records 35 minutes of the last part of this process in the making of the image Charlotte in 2006. Charlotte is a tongue in cheek portrayal of the sexually charged cliché of the older, jaded woman preying on/being preyed upon by the carefree young man. It is a scene we all know but from no particular source. This version is intended to disrupt our acceptance with a paraphrase of the same media driven language with which we are acutely yet carelessly familiar, with a few major tweaks. The most predominate of which is a subject/object reversal. In the video, the artist taking the part of the woman is seen in the particular point of the image construction where the subject must play the object. The uncomfortable vacillation between the two is visibly palpable here. Our erstwhile Charlotte must subsume her self and imitate the object in order for the critique to function, however for the very same reason, the presence of the subject must remain. Hovering on this precipice, the subject slightly emerges and is demurely checked by the artist with a deference to those assisting who are capable of viewing the scene. The subject worries about the addition of unwanted props, scene cropping, the placement of the sunlight, silently, while impersonating the object. Around this struggle, we see the aesthetic recital of the composed scene with reality as a backdrop in the form of the typical surroundings of a photo shoot; an existing soundtrack, off camera banter between friends acting as assistants and the authoritative voice of the anonymous photographer keeping time.
As with the other works in “Sidetrack”, Rivington leaves the artist slightly vulnerable and somewhat exposed as we are allowed to watch her struggle for the balance between forgery and criticism. She slowly metes out her control with a staccato reticence, wavering within the pregnant poles of her heated appropriation. Rivington is a circuitous document which is made before the mechanisms of the finished piece take hold, giving us an ironic insight into the conclusions towards which the final work nudges. In the end, the male model for the ‘carefree young man’ pulls up his pants front and center of the camera and both figures walk away leaving us staring at an empty bed and maybe wondering what was there in the first place. And isn’t that the point?