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Portrait of Cate Blanchett, 2008

David Rosetzky

Blu-Ray digital video, colour, sound, duration 9 minutes, 56 seconds

Cate Blanchett AC (b. 1969), screen and stage actor, graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art in 1992, joined the Sydney Theatre Company (STC) and soon received the Sydney Theatre Critics’ Circle award for Best Newcomer. Her early Australian films include Oscar and Lucinda (1997) and Thank God He Met Lizzie (1997). She has since won many film industry awards including two Academy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards and three BAFTA Awards; for her performance as the young Bob Dylan in I’m Not There (2007) she won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival. For her role in Blue Jasmine (2013) she not only won the Oscar and the Golden Globe but the New York Film Critics Circle award, the National Society of Film Critics award and the BAFTA. Her performance in Carol (2015) gained her nominations for the Oscar, the Golden Globe and the BAFTA. She has recently voiced characters in Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle and two How to Train Your Dragon features. A leading advocate for the arts in Australia, with three honorary doctorates, Blanchett was joint artistic director of the Sydney Theatre Company with her husband Andrew Upton from 2008 to 2013 and won worldwide accolades for her performances in STC productions including Uncle Vanya in New York.

Blanchett has three honorary doctorates and is a Chevalier d’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. David Rosetzky (b. 1970) collaborated with choreographer Lucy Guerin and composer J David Franzke, and worked closely with Cate Blanchett to produce this video portrait commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Commissioned with funds provided by Ian Darling 2008

Video transcript

There’s a constant pull between wanting to be seen and not wanting to be seen.

I think it’s taken me a long time to accept or, take pleasure in, or work with the notion of being seen. I think for quite a long time I was hiding behind stuff; one assumes a character so therefore it’s a mask of a certain type, and I think it ‘s taken me a long time to make that mask transparent.

Every time I think I have no idea how to do this. I have no connection to it, I don’t know any way in, except to sit with it, and look at it, and listen to it.

You’ve got to get to a place of neutrality. It’s like a neutral mask that doesn’t betray any emotion. 

If I can see it, know it, know all the boundaries of it, if I can see the horizon and realize that the character is actually flat. That there’s not a sense of, you know, is it round? Is it flat? Am I going to fall off the edge? Then I think, I may as well not do it.

I’m really bad at describing them. I do see them as people, but they’re not completely formed, in the way that you can dream about a person but when you wake from the dream they’re shadowy, more of an essence.  They’re there to do something, they want something, so, perhaps it’s a state, a desire and once you connect with that state and desire and it’s place in the whole, it’s place in the world, once you form a connection with that, then they start to take on a form, a shape.

People talk about falling in love, or liking them, or having to form a connection. I’m quite impartial about them. 

I’m not very loyal. I sort of forget them. I don’t like them enough to remember them, or hate them enough to remember them.

You seem to have a lot of people telling you who you are, so I’ve actually thought less and less about who I actually am. And I’ve been content to let people say, you know at one point it’s strident or opinionated or fragile and needy, or whatever you happen to be on the particular day you meet someone.  

I’ve never really had to assess it or decide upon that because, who I am, it’s constantly shifting.

I try to do nothing consciously.

I think that you have to enter a state of openness.

You’re allowing thoughts inside your head but they come and go.

It’s like the moment between, wakefulness and sleep, it’s not on and it’s not off, it’s sort of suspended.

A person can be completely contradictory. We’re often wildly inconsistent. I was trying to smooth things out and make sense of things. When things are ambiguous you just play two opposing things and butt them right up against one another, and that’s what makes something, somebody, unpredictable.

Very early on I realised that exactly what I thought I was communicating, would be, or could be received by someone in a completely different way and you can’t control it, you have to give that over. Interpretation you have to give over.

Accession number: 2008.107

Currently on display: Gallery Seven (Ian Potter Gallery)

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Artist and subject

David Rosetzky (age 38 in 2008)

Cate Blanchett (age 39 in 2008)

Subject professions

Performing arts

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