Sara Cwnar: Rose Gold

After the release of Apple’s luxuriously named, new colour way back in 2015, it’s no surprise ‘Rose Gold’ quickly rose to become Pantone’s ‘Colour of the Year,’ later in 2016. With a rolling wave of consumer brands promptly adopting similar tones of the highly coveted shade for their own products, its evident ‘Rose Gold,’ certainly had a moment.

‘Millenial Pink and Why It Won’t Go Away’ are just some of the headlines associated with the fresher, bubblegum pop of pink, no in circulation, reflecting the current climate of gender fluidity and neutrality. In the same way ‘Rose Gold,’ evolved from the ‘Copper’ trend, ‘Millenial Pink,’ will soon have to give way to the next, newest colour kid on the block.

In her film of the same name, Sara Cwynar’s ‘Rose Gold,’ ironically catches the tail end of the trending colour way’s lifespan. With the rose gold i phone release already becoming outdated during the film’s production, Cwynar cleverly exposes our relationship with colour, desire and the rate at which we commercially consume.


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Stills: Sara Cwynar, Rose Gold, 2018 at The Approach, London. Rose Gold stills: Courtesy of Foxy Productions and the artist.


Structured similarly to an educational film from the 70’s and all captured on 16mm film, narrated quotes are read aloud over a slideshow sequence of colour fuelled images, appearing momentarily on screen. Referencing writings from Lauren Berlant, Tony Morrison, Judy Wacjman and Ludwig Wittgenstein, Cwynar merges these poetic quotes with more technical extracts from the Encyclopaedia Britannica and Apple website.

Looking at how value is assigned to products by aesthetics, ‘Rose Gold’ examines colour as a selling tool and coded language of association. Featuring objects satisfyingly organised according to tone, the viewer is treated to mesmerising scenes of kitsch delight, as beauty products, household normalities and plastic kitchenware adorn the synthetic set. Amongst juxtaposing frames of brightly feathered parrots and pastel painted vintage vehicles, the camera flips to fleeting moments of the artist herself, in the studio and in front of varying backdrops, hauntingly staring into the camera, bringing another dimension to the work.


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Installation view, Sara Cwynar, Rose Gold, 2018, at The Approach, London. Images courtesy of the artist & The Approach.


The idea that these colours exist in the world, yet are claimed ownership of by corporations is reflected by the continuous list of colour names from consumer products Cwynar presents us with. Focusing in particular on a range of plastic kitchen items, Melamine, shades titled ‘chartreuse,’ ‘golden rod,’ and ‘blue rose,’ suggest a fate of luxury determined only by the brand itself.

If Cwynar’s intention was to prove how flippant and easily influenced we are as consumers, then she has truly succeeded. Admittedly I felt completely absorbed by the seductive flashes of colour on screen, often allowing the underlying message to slip from my mind, much too preoccupied with the palette of artificiality before me. A startling and true example of how corporations exploit our emotive connection to colour for financial gain, Cwynar serves a vital reminder that the notion even exists due to our hunger for visual satisfaction and pure flippancy in a capitalist society.


Rose Gold is showing at The Approach (In the Annexe) until 11th November.