A ‘Haywain’ Moment (2014)
Live broadcast of a performance (transmitted to computers, phones and tablets).
Part of Field Broadcast’s, Scene on a Navigable River, Dedham Vale, Suffolk.
Dedham Vale, along the River Stour in Suffolk, is best known as the setting for John Constable’s paintings The Hay Wain (1821) and Flatford Mill (Scene on a Navigable River) (1816), and has become the site of what is generally accepted as a quintessential vision of English landcape, or indeed of ‘Englishness’ itself.
In A Haywain Moment two people (Adam Chodzko and actor, Gretchen Egolf) arrive in Dedham Vale, near Flatford Mill, in period costume, with the task of participating in a ‘bringing to life’ of various figures in The Haywain. Not only are they waiting in the wrong place but they are also in the wrong time, convinced that The Haywain they are about to enact is the painting by Hieronymus Bosch from 1516 showing a large wagon of hay surrounded by numerous fools engaged in a variety of sins.
Looking directly beyond the camera (and into the space of the viewer) towards what the two “re-enactors” imagine is the setting of the Bosch painting, superimposing it into the 21st century Suffolk landscape before them. They make speculations about the various tourists and dog-walkers who appear in front of them, certain that they must be there to enact other characters within The Haywain tableau whilst wondering what roles they themselves are to assume, preparing themselves for various possibilities by practicing postures. The two performers never mention that the image they are about to participate in is a historical painting. Instead they talk about it as though it is a current design for an event in the immanent present. Their dialogue begins to refer to naked people, debauched activity and a snake, magnifying the gulf between Constable’s peaceful Suffolk imagery and its surreal inversion within the Bosch. Slowly it dawns on them that they are not be included within the event, it is perhaps happening elsewhere, or perhaps they got the arrival time wrong. Confused and disappointed they resign themselves to remain in limbo, in between realities and audiences (the Field Broadcast viewers and the Dedham Vale tourists), in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A ‘Haywain’ Moment (2014) explores the question of what we, as viewers, as tourists, as audience, expect we will discover or gain from going to look at the site of Constable’s Haywain. What is it we are hoping for? It is a standard part of our leisure industry to encourage such encounters. But psychologically, what is really at stake in the levels of projection and empathy required in order to have a really good Haywain moment?
Field Broadcast, Scene on a Navigable River, Live from Dedham Vale, 9-15 July 2014. The project included broadcasts from: Adam Chodzko & Gretchen Egolf; Beth Collar; Ben Judd; Rory Macbeth; Florence Peake; Paul Becker & Francesco Pedraglio; Way Through; and Ian Whittlesea.
Field Broadcast is a live broadcast project connecting artists, audiences and obscure locations through the portal of the computer desktop. Field Broadcast has developed through the practice of, and is run by, artists Rebecca Birch and Rob Smith.
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