Steve Carr

Smoke Train

Artwork Detail

Steve Carr works across a range of media, from performance to blown glass, photography and film. While Carr describes his works as showing ‘beautiful little moments’, they often come with a barb of humour or a challenge to viewers’ preconceptions. Since 2003, he has shot on 16mm or 35mm film, lending his film works the patina of nostalgia. In Smoke Train, the genuine warmth of the scene is emphasised by the quality of the film, which recalls photographs from a family album of the 1970s. The viewer is drawn in to this intimate view of a loving relationship between a young woman and her daughter.

Carr often plays with the tension between the sweet and the sinister. In earlier films like Pillow Fight, 2002, in which he participates in an enthusiastic pyjama-party pillow fight with a group of young girls, an uneasy sexual charge pervades what is ostensibly innocent fun. With Smoke Train, Carr’s provocation is more subtle. Smoking around children has in recent times become social taboo, and Carr shows how quickly social stigmas are developed. The game played between the two characters in Smoke Train, where smoke is made to billow from a cellophane cigarette packet, is one Carr played with his mother as a child. Here, the ideals of innocence and purity are shown to be an inevitable compromise as the past uneasily persists in the present.

Smoke Train
Steve Carr
Production date
35mm film transferred to video, single channel, standard definition (SD), 4:3, colour, silent
1min 50sec
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2011
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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