Author(s): Steve Carr
Time is perhaps the central actor in Steve Carr’s wider practice. Operating at the crux of photography, moving image and a kind of deferred mode of performance, the New Zealand artist skirts the poetic, gestural, ad-hoc alchemic and quietly absurd in his film and photographic series, slowing time to a crawl as he interweaves actions, experiments and unlikely cultural references to create images that are at once deft and strangely virtuosic. His first book for Perimeter Editions, Variations for Troubled Hands – which won the 2017 Australian Photobook of the Year Award – leveraged the long history of hands in art and film in presenting more than 200 photographs of the fingers, forearms, palms and wrists of a teenage ballet prodigy as she performed 12 acts of a ballet. His new book, Smoke Bubbles 1–58, houses a series Carr made while on residency in Japan in 2010. Taking the cover of American soul singer Smokey Robinson’s 1973 debut LP Smokey as their point of departure, these images are both planetary and happily preposterous in their bearings. Page after page, we witness soap bubbles filled with cigarette smoke floating, flitting and shimmering against an inky-black studio backdrop – transitory, richly aesthetic moments plucked from a stench of cigarette plumes and a squelch of suds.