Viggo Mortensen, Photographer

Source: Massey University

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Photographer, writer and actor Viggo Mortensen supports the idea of a postgraduate film school as part of the Wellington campus. He sees the concept as a good creative fit.

An exhibition of Viggo Mortensen's photographic work is now on display in the Museum Building after a Benefit Opening on 28 November. The exhibition Mo Te Upoko-O-Te-Ika/For Wellington features 120 images on show at Massey, plus a further 20 at the Wellington City Gallery.

Viggo Mortensen, who plays Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, says during his time filming in Wellington he was struck by the people, the landscapes and the weather. For him, the show is a way to put something back. "Not only by bringing back these images, but also by lending a hand, by putting the spotlight on all of the creative things you have going on here at Massey," he says.

"I'm pleased that Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh extended the invitation to the Benefit Opening (along with Vice-Chancellor Professor Judith Kinnear). This brings extra attention to the University, particularly for your proposed School of Film. You already have these creative driving forces in place - with your School of Design and now your new School of Fine Arts - so I figure if a (post graduate) Film School could be established, there couldn't be a better place for it to happen."

As for the images, those on show in the Museum building are more abstract, drawing on time spent in Iceland, Denmark and North America, together with impressions from his time in New Zealand. Expect blurred movement by barely discernible figures, out-of-kilter landscape perspectives along with bold colours and wild contrasts. Those at the City Gallery are more recognisable, and specific to the Wellington region.

A book containing many of the images is available for sale, published by Perceval Press, a joint venture set up by Viggo Mortensen and publisher Pilar Perez, who helped curate the Wellington exhibition.

Asked about his favourite medium - photography, painting or writing - Viggo Mortensen says it's all part of the same continuum. "You ask the question, you investigate, you make that extra effort to be aware and express your reaction to your surroundings," he says. "Whether you paint or act or write, you're giving importance to a given moment, a place, an emotion, and you're communicating the discoveries you've made as you engage in that process. So in that sense, everything is connected."

He says it has been good to catch up with the LOTR cast during this visit, coinciding with the premiere of The Return of the King. "We're all friends. We support each other with our various projects so it's nice that they're turning up to the Benefit Opening."

As for the movie, he says Peter Jackson has proved that goals can be achieved that others - particularly in the United States - might have doubted. "And that's what's unique about New Zealand and its people. They've very self-sufficient and self-reliant. They make a real effort to reach out and inform themselves about the rest of the world.

'Everybody I've worked here at Massey is very professional and that's also true of the movie. The focus is the group effort. The individual's reward is in the success of that group. I find that very engaging."
Last edited: 29 June 2006 14:23:29
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