Magazine article Art Monthly

Stuart Croft: Drive In

Magazine article Art Monthly

Stuart Croft: Drive In

Article excerpt

Stuart Croft: Drive In

Fred London June 6 to July 20

A man and a woman in a car: the woman is talking animatedly while her companion drives, staring fixedly at the road ahead. It is night-time and they are dressed up, presumably on their way to or from an evening out; it's difficult to situate them geographically through the rain-soaked windows and the anonymous city lights. With its slick production values and the American accent of the actress, Drive In, 2007, could be a scene from any number of Hollywood genres, from road movie to thriller to romantic comedy. The title of British artist Stuart Croft's ambitious new film, while no doubt a pun on 'driving'--the main activity of the film--suggests nostalgia for American open-air movie theatres, and there is something about the sporadic arrival and departure of spectators to the gallery, and the rudimentary seating that might be seen as an equivalent experience, although you'd have to rename it a 'walk-in'.

While her partner drives, the woman tells a story about a man who finds himself washed up on a desert island. By a miracle, he discovers that he is not alone: conveniently, the island has already been settled by a sexy woman, with her own two-storey house and ready supply of food. She's also a talented artist who makes erotic sculptures and paintings. It's clear from the sardonic tone of the woman's narration and accusatory glances over at her partner that she judges this to be a predictable male fantasy. Told from her point of view, the would-be hero of the story is painted as a pathetic, sex-obsessed, divorced software manager, who can't hold his drink. Luckily for the woman on the island, he turns out to be passable in bed.

As the narrator keeps up her monologue, the man in the car keeps driving, expressionless, glancing over a couple of times, but never explicitly reacting to the story or the woman's provocations. It's not clear whether he finds her tedious or he has other things on his mind; in a brief moment that recalls Bunuel's Un Chien Andalou, the reflection of the man's forehead in the rearview mirror cross-fades into a pair of women's breasts. Which woman is he thinking about: the one next to him or the one in the story? The lack of communication between the man and the woman in the car on a rainy night contrasts ironically with the steamy tropical soft-porn of the story. Is the woman appropriating this crude tale in order to satirise their real-life relationship?

After a raunchy honeymoon period, the tale continues, the perfect relationship between the desert-island couple begins to fall apart. …

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