The Green, the Flow, the Path of the Game (2021)
4K Video with sound
11 mins 43 secs
Commissioned by Margate NOW (2021)
The Green, the Flow, the Path of the Game, as low resolution on Vimeo.
Around the borders of the Sunken Garden (a community garden in Westbrook near Margate, Kent) are trees and shrubs that define a boundary between the outside world beyond the garden, whilst carefully containing its interior plantings. This border, a small zone of dense and diverse vegetation is also a space where children have developed, through play, over the years, a complex tracery of narrow unofficial paths that go between plants and under low-hanging branches. Sometimes the available height is so low, these paths can only have been made by, and is restricted to those beings who are less than 4’ high!
This action of previous play has produced paths offering any new visiting children a clear invitation as to exactly where to play and therefore what play is possible. Their new play then continues this mapping, re-marking and re-tracing, creating a tight matrix of routes on the earth. A root system.
The best game is the first game; hide and seek. And, best of all, in this place, the entire game of chase is mostly hidden from adults (and the over 4’ tall) who are forced to remain inhabiting the more central open areas of the garden. But the nature of each plant, its precise position in the garden, its form, its smoothness, or prickliness, the density of its foliage, its capacity to cast dark shadows to hide in, the springiness of its branches all require the players to quickly adapt their fast physical movements in relation to each. Unconsciously they develop a sophisticated plant knowledge through rapid responses of their senses, particularly sight and touch. Which plant provides the best interior hiding place? Which trunk allows you to propel yourself faster when spinning around it? In the dark (and apparently sacred spaces)in the interior of various bushes we hear child-elders continuously counting down to the start of play or giggling through a murmured game of Chinese whispers using, as their source, the Latin names of the plants that exist in this section of the garden (eg: Elaeagnus pungens, Buddleja globosa etc) before these botanical classifications slowly mutate into new language.
Partly inspired by the complex, joyful behaviour depicted in Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s painting Children’s Games (1560) Chodzko gave GoPro action cameras to a group of 11 local children to wear so that they could remind him (and the viewer) how the game is experienced, how fun it is! In the adrenaline rush of their excitement as hunter or hunted they accomplish elegant plant-related movements, often accidentally spreading seeds, regenerating their plant collaborators. Chodzko edited the video in the chronological order of its event. The children’s multiple and often simultaneous perspectives create its visual and auditory growth. The edits between short sequences of play seem to turn one body into another, a flow which parallels the empathic attention that this game requires. The editing process was itself developed as a form of gardening; pruning, weeding, revealing a complex whole from diverse elements, a semblance of order within a semblance of wildness.
If we were able to translate a garden’s form of consciousness into something familiar to us The Green, the Flow, the Path of the Game might be creating for the viewer a garden’s perception of the flow of its human visitors. The work reminds us of the possibility of an intense, fluid, bodily relationship with plants and their interior spaces creating a different quality of joy from that attained by the polite, slow, methodical patrolling along the edges of flowerbeds by the visitors to Wisley or Sissinghurst etc.
Like other recent works by Chodzko (eg; The Valley Unfurls its Song , The Return of the Fleet Spring Heads , O, you happy roots, branch and mediatrix, and Thru hole I blind/O/Thru hole oui see etc) or earlier works (eg: Night Shift (2004), and Ghost (2010)) the artwork exists as a form of guidance; encouraging our (real or imaginary) movement through a space, that serves to catalyse and channel a new vision.
The performers/players/camera operators:
Agatha Lewis Bonilla, Olivia Gorry, Mohammad Kanjo, Mirra Kanjo, Harley Wraight, Lottie Wraight, Florence Hasted, Elizabeth Cadge, Freya Rye, Emma Cheasley, Sebastian September,
Mylo and Marni Defaut