Cwynar’s film Rose Gold(2017) focuses on Apple’s Rose Gold iPhone, tracking how the phone acts as a talisman of desire for objects, people, power, and money. Released in September 2015, the Rose Gold iPhone was already outdated during the film’s production – superseded by the perpetual release of newer and more advanced models. Thus, in 2018, the Rose Gold iPhone is already a relic, an anachronistic icon that epitomises the successes and speed of modern technology, which leaves even the most recent of inventions behind in order to keep reincarnating, updating, improving.
The film considers how individuals — the artist as one of its protagonists – negotiate complicated feelings of love and hate for commercial objects and how features, such as 3D Touch, resonate directly with the user’s emotions and imagination.
Rose Gold is a research-oriented meditation on the emotional impact of colour: how colour can manifest desire. It has the tone and structure of an educational film, like the National Film Board of Canada documentaries produced in the 1960s and ‘70s. Its complex voice-over includes quotes of, or references to, the writings of Lauren Berlant, Toni Morrison, Judy Wacjman, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, among many others, as well as excerpts from the Encyclopædia Britannica and the Apple website. It includes studio-based performances and travelogues of iconic symbols of American progress: The New Deal’s Hoover Dam and the boomtown of Las Vegas.
The title is used as a starting point to think about other “rose” things, about how colour is used to code liberation movements around the world, and how it is used as a selling device. The artist looks at Melamine, a line of plastic kitchenware introduced in the 1950s that was produced in bright colours with names like chartreuse, golden rod, and blue rose. Although intended to be indestructible and colourfast, with time they broke, stained and faded, moving from idealized, loved objects to forgotten kitsch, a fate the Rose Gold iPhone is already beginning to share.
Sara Cwynar (b. 1985, Vancouver, BC, Canada) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Recent solo exhibitions include: Image Model Muse, Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN (touring to Milwaukee Art Museum, WI); Tracy, Oakville Galleries, Oakville, Canada (both 2018); Soft Film, MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany (2017); Everything in the Studio Destroyed, Foam Photography Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2013). Group exhibitions include You are Looking at Something That Never Occurred, 33rdBienal de São Paolo, São Paolo , Brazil; Mademoiselle, Centre Régional d’Art Contemporain d’Occitane, Sète, France; La Complainte du progrès, Musée régional d’art contemporain Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée, Sérignan, France; MAST Foundation for Photography Grant on Industry and Work, Mast Foundation, Bologna, Italy (all 2018); Hard to Picture: A Tribute to Ad Reinhardt, Mudam, Luxembourg; Subjektiv, Malmö Konsthall, Sweden; You Are Looking at Something That Never Occurred, Zabludowicz Collection, London, UK (all 2017); L’Image Volée, Fondazione Prada, Milan, Italy (2016); Greater New York, MoMA PS1, Queens, NY (2015/16.
Cwynar’s works are in the permanent collections of Guggenheim Museum, New York; MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Minneapolis Institute of Art; Dallas Museum of Art; Milwaukee Art Museum; Fondazione Prada, Milan; Kadist Art Foundation, San Francisco; Zabludowicz Collection, London; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City; FOAMPhotography Museum, Amsterdam.