Collection

Waitara Freezing Works, Taranaki
Darcy Lange

1974

Darcy Lange
b.
1946
Title:
Waitara Freezing Works, Taranaki
Production date:
1974
Accession No:
83/1/7
Media:
U-matic 3/4" PAL 625 videotape

Collection Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth. Purchased from Monica Brewster Bequest with the assistance of the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council of New Zealand in 1983

In 1972, Darcy Lange began videotaping and filming under the general theme of ‘people at work’ in English factories, mines and schools, and continued these series in New Zealand in his ambition to record workers’ lives in different countries around the world. Lange conducted some studies of rural and farming activities in his home region Taranaki in 1974. Waitara Freezing Works is the only one of these series in a factory setting; a slaughterhouse in Waitara.

In Lange’s customary style, the video camera shows the elegance and skill of the workers as they perform particular tasks on the meat as it crosses their paths on a conveyor belt, alternating his focus between a particular worker or chain of workers. A degree of referentiality appears in these works, systematically detailing the sequential tasks of an individual or a group in the factory and over the course of the day. These were presented in separate studies or chapters, titled after the type of task with segments such as ‘Boning calves’, ‘Boning beef’, ‘Stomach removal’, ‘Mutton Chain 1’, ‘Mutton Chain 2’, and ‘Mutton Chain 3’. As such, the study is almost stripped of its social or political reference and could simply be seen as what it is — a study of labour as a performed activity.