Ronnie van Hout

New Zealand

I’ve Stopped Trying, Videostill, 2003.

It often seems that the majority of the artwork presented by Ronnie van Hout is a self-portrait. He is usually there in one form or another, acting in a video as himself or one of his many characters. It could be as a photograph of himself, or a desperate voice on a tape, or even referenced in the many official documents he has presented on himself. You would think that with all this use of the self, you would come away with a pretty good picture of the artist, and what he is like. Not likely.

As the images of his work and himself build up over time, what seems to develop is an attempt to reveal, but also conceal the image of self. A self-portrait that is constructed and confusing, where the complexity of personality, and its development are examined and played with. Van Hout’s characters have often taken a wrong turn in their lives and are suffering the consequences of bad decision-making. In one of his recent works, “I’ve Stopped Trying (2003), the tracksuited character has stopped altogether, unable to make a move, or make the decision on what to do next. This position of stasis resembles sleep or death, or possibly a condition closely resembling art.