Horse Appearance, 2019, is a performative gesture in which a horse, the horse's trainer, and a private security guard were hired to attend Columbia University's MFA Open Studios.
The piece evolved out of a conversation with Baris Gokturk concerning the trojan horse. We should do a project with a horse sculpture and a painting of a broom. A bad representation of horse, considering a bad symbol of its body, you know playing horse with a kitchen broom. A chasm, an abyss.
But what are we going to do with this Trojan Horse? What are we breaching/infiltrating/destroying? What is the lure?
It would be cooler if it was a live horse. Where would we get a horse in New York City?
The Mounted division has horses.. What if our medium was mounted police officers?
It would be amazing. We could something like where we tie a rope to the mounted officer and pull them off the horse. Like bringing down an equestrian monument.
Or we could get two of them and have a game of polo in the park.
...Okay, so let's do the horse considering the broom with the presence of the officer. The horse will be considering a poor symbol of its self, and it will be a lure to viewers in the empty studio. Just like the Trojan horse, but then they enter this abyss between the horse and the officer, the mounted man, the 10ft cop. The symbol of power, property, aggression.
I have to find a mounted officer to do this.
They won't like you making fun of them.
Am I making fun of them?
I reached out to an officer, retired from the mounted division, found his name in a New York Times article, found him on facebook, sent a message along with some paintings to prove I was an artist.
I wandered around between Times Square and Central park, passing by the Mountain Division stables on the way, in the Mercedes Building. Caught a glimpse of one of the horses. I hear they have treadmills. They hung up on me when I called the non-emergency number, I wanted to try to get a tour. I'm pretty sure they let school groups in, elementary schools, but still I thought I could swing a student angle or something.
I wrote the commander of the mounted division an letter, on a piece of nice paper that I had done a pen and ink of a horse on, as an offering. It described the proposed art work, with a diagram, and invited the mounted division to the show. I also added that the cops should be okay with me making fun of them, to show humility, win some public image. Inviting the soldiers to an art studio, that's the breach. Inviting police to where my home?
Someone mentioned they were worried about a war horse kicking and killing someone in the studio, mentioned mini-horses.
Definitely a good idea, scale reduction, increase the cute factor. The Lure.
I found http://kensingtonstables.com/horse-appearances/, they had horses in prospect park. I called asked for the smallest one they had, they sad 32" at the withers, perfect. Date, time, address, Credit Card. That was it. I asked if the horse would be more comfortable with another horse present, i heard they were social. It doesn't matter. What do you mean it doesn't matter..?
Horse is booked.
I start getting nervous about the soldiers, no soldiers. I remembered all the private security in Times Square, they all looked like cops, and it had this realness about it. A relation to private property, to "protection" to authority, to brutality, mafia, power and violence, the imposition of violence.
I called a security company in long island, told them I need a guard for an artshow who was going to more be a part of the piece than actually protect anything, and that I needed him to visible, wear something that said security. No problem.
I talked to some professors about it. Everyone was laughing, that was good. But then, no way. No way you are getting it inside.
But you know, its like a pony for a birthday party. Its like our coming out party. and like a dog and pony show.
I called the stables again, asked if they needed anything. No they bring everything. Okay, is it possible if the pony can come inside? Well, it might be, but the horse would be more comfortable in the cold. Okay, okay.
Got a message, there's no way this is going to happen. What if hazmat gets called, who are you putting at risk? What if the dean comes, and kicks you out. Kicks us all out of our studios?
I wake up now early in the mornings thinking about this horse.
People keep asking me if there will be a horse. Hopefully, I don't know.
I leave, I get wasted and pass out before 8pm, night before. I still haven't done anything, I haven't prepped. All my stuff is in the studio, it looks like a painters studio, paintings all up on the wall, stuff all around. There's no relation between anything and the horse and the guard.
I woke up at 3 am, I moved everything, the sewing machine, pounds and pounds of paint and books, tools, table saw, whatever I have, out of the studio in a fit. Take the paintings down, except one. Leave the cleats, and the stains on the floor and wall. Show that something was here, something that was supposed to be here was here, that these things are not supposed to be here. Make distance between the space and the place. Push all the stuff in the hallway in the storage area, stuff some back in a back room, but leave the marks.
Alright, what if the horse doesn't get to come in. No problem, install a projector, live stream the projection from outside on your phone. Leave one painting, a work in progress up.
Okay, all set. Just wait for it, get a haircut. Eat well, and let the horse come.
The horse arrives. The video above was recorded during the two hours the horse and guard were booked for, and it was projected during a final third hour after the horse and guard had left.