The first of Gertrude’s two Digital Commissions for 2021, Tāmaki Makaurau based Natasha Matila-Smith presents A List of Things That Quicken The Heart (2021). The new single channel video work develops Matila-Smith’s ongoing study of the bedroom as a conflated space of romance and artistic production, but does so at a time when its associations with intimacy and voyeurism are being rearticulated. The artist’s video elaborates on this context during heightened societal distance and an era in which the outside world is also afforded ever closer access to our lives. Matila-Smith leans into this tension, playing with the perceived power dynamics of the subject being documented; retorting with their own documentation, wilful participation, and performance.
The video’s title is drawn from the French filmmaker Chris Marker’s pioneering 1983 documentary Sans Soleil, which also experimented with the qualities of the filmic genre. Matila-Smith leaves the titular list to be imagined by the viewer, toying further with expectations by presenting a form of extended, durational action that relishes its ambivalence. The ‘quickening of the heart’ may be generated by the soundtrack’s romance or by the thrill of surveillance, yet in the subject’s persistent complicity, the voyeur’s potential satisfaction is denied. This quality is deepened by Matila-Smith’s ‘documentary loop’: the gaze is itself gazed upon and we as viewers look too upon it with a mixture of complicity, knowing too well that our watching is also watched again by structures external to us.
Natasha Matila-Smith is an arts practitioner who lives and works in Tāmaki Makaurau. She graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in 2014 from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland. Her practice modus operandi is through confessional text-based works that explore her personal experiences of loneliness and discomfort in the world, and at the same time how they relate to larger socio-political structures.