#EastLondon : william mackrell deux chevaux @ The Ryder
William Mackrell: Steam Horses
29 January 2015 – 14 March 2015Wed – Sat, 12 – 6pm
‘Every man should pull a boat over a mountain once in his life’ — Werner Herzog
“The Ryder is pleased to present its inaugural exhibition ‘Steam horses’ by British artist William Mackrell. Following the public performance ‘Deux Chevaux’ the entire project will be exhibited for the first time as a video, photograph, sculpture and installation.
Supported by Arts Council England, in June 2014 the artist was towed by two horses through the streets of Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster riding in the classic French “two horsepower” motorcar Citroen 2CV. Using horsepower alone, Mackrell traced a path across London marked by nine local landmarks and public spaces, including the Serpentine, Hyde Park, the Natural History Museum and the Royal Albert Hall. ‘Deux Chevaux’ examines language’s inability to define human progress at this delicate junction between natural and mechanical power. The 2 CV (short for chevaux vapeur) refers to the method of calculating horsepower used in France, ‘fiscal Horsepower’, that is outmoded in many other countries. The already nebulous concept of measuring mechanical power in ‘horses’ is further complicated by varying definitions from country to country. By visualizing this incongruity Mackrell highlights absurdity of the human urge to systematise and quantifiably measure power in natural terms. The realisation of ‘Deux Chevaux’ involved significant and exhaustive coordination across local and national bodies, including fourteen risk assessments and even being checked for a performing animals license. Along with the objects of his performance – a Citroen 2CV to which reigns and harnesses are attached – the exhibition features a video and photographic work plus 427 email correspondences sent by the artist in order to accomplish his performative work. The presented emails give an account of the administration faced in completing a horse drawn journey, which besides its peculiar carriage would have been commonplace only 100 years ago. This plethora of communications raises questions about the efficiency of bureaucracy to negotiate and organise human activity.”