David Rosetzky, Summer Blend
Rebecca Coates

Summer Blend (2000) begins with the title of the work floating in white against a cool blue-grey background accompanied by an instrumental version of a Grace Jones track. For those who know her work, the singer’s trademark is sexy, languorous and predatory, black and feline. As the music repeats and loops, heavily waxed spikes of hair emerge as the camera pans down in slow motion over the head of a young man working his hair to achieve the perfect look. The subject is totally engrossed, staring directly at the viewer as if into a mirror, solemnly tweaking and twisting to perfection. The camera continues to pan, and the image bleeds into a woman smoothing face cream onto her neck, chest and shoulders.

The 20 minute DVD depicts a series of five young, underwear-clad figures applying skin lotion or hair wax who seamlessly melt one into the other as the camera pans slowly down and then up the body, focusing on face, torso, stomach, thighs, feet, and back up again in languid succession. At turns entirely self-conscious and then oblivious to the incongruity, these androgynous images of consumption and mass appeal have much in common with the street-savvy beauties of contemporary cultural magazines. Their continuous evolution one into the other in an endlessly looping sequence has no discernable outcome.

As with Rosetzky’s subsequent video works, the production is slick, polished and extremely professional: more akin to the qualities associated with advertising, fashion, pop music video clips, or glossy interior magazine lifestyle décor. And the head-to-toe application of body lotion instantly reminds you of the claims that this generation lives for self-absorption, materiality, and without moral frame-work. Four of the characters are equally flawless, wearing designer beige underwear: the youthful androgyny of Calvin Klein rather than unambiguous Chesty Bonds.

The scene is part voyeuristic, part public show. The fifth figure highlights this dichotomy: a young girl wears the same underwear as the other characters, but this time rather than reinforcing the sexual androgyny of the female boxer shorts, they bag and sag, and look extremely self-conscious. Instead of the languorous and semi-erotic smoothing of lotion over pale flesh, she slaps and wipes, leaving splodges of left-over lotion and furrows in excess cream. Neither slowed down camera work nor repetitious movement can imbue her actions with anything more than innocent posturing. But her inclusion highlights the continual manipulation and sexualisation of subject-matter, regardless of age or stage, in popular culture.

There is a moment when the young girl cannot help but smile as the camera slowly moves across her youthful face and torso. However much she tries to emulate the sophistication and knowingness of popular culture, she remains a child merely parodying adult actions. Rosetzky’s critique of a social condition in Summer Blend is all the more pointed for its whimsy and humour.


Rebecca Coates is an independent curator and writer, and lecturer at the University of Melbourne. She was Curator at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art from 2002–07, and is currently an Associate Curator at ACCA.


The article was originally published in Swoon, exhibition catalogue, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 2004. Reproduced with permission.