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John Berger | Emma Bolland

10/29/14, 9:45 AM

Emma Bolland
artist / writer

TAG ARC HIVES : JOHN BE RGE R

FIELDS OF KNOWLEDGE: Full paper from


the Thinking With John Berger conference,
Cardi, 4th & 5th September
Posted on September 9, 2014
FIELDS OF KNOWLEDGE: BERGER, THE OUTDOORS, AND THE POSSIBILITIES OF EXPERIENTIAL PRACTICE.
INTRODUCTION
This paper (with accompanying illustrations) was written for & presented at the Thinking With John Berger conference
held at Cardiff Metropolitan University on the 4th & 5th of September 2014, organised by Jeff Wallace, Professor of
English, Department of Humanities in the School of Education.
At first I referred to the field as a space awaiting events; now I refer to it as an event in itself. John Berger Field
(1971)
As artists, in the widest sense of the word, how do we read, experience and learn from Berger? Im going to start from
the position that creative practitioners might be able to have a more fluid relationship with texts than is allowed the
orthodox academic; that we can start from the position of not knowing, and then continue to embrace and even nurture
this position.
There is a Hegelian maxim that says that it is only in the hours of Darkness that the owl of Minerva takes flight. This is
perhaps an elegant way of saying that it is the territory that precedes the domain of understanding in which we think
(Bolland 2014). Receptiveness to the potential of such territory, to the spaces that are the gaps in certainty and

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Video still from Spelunker, Deep Sea Diver, Astronaut #3 (2014 version of footage from 2003), Emma
Bolland. To view film click here

knowledge, is the cornerstone of what I would describe as experiential practice. Bergers writing often discursive,
wondering, anti-didactic produces such a space: the space that is in itself productive (Lewis 2014, in conversation),
the field that is an event in itself (Berger 1971). Berger introduces his 1978 essay Uses of Photography: For Susan
Sontag by saying:
The thoughts are sometimes my own, but all originate in the experience of reading her book.
This is a brief example of the types of self-facing / explicatory phrases in which Berger allows himself, as reader, to
respond to the spaces that can be sought out; that indicate agency, generosity, and reciprocity between the reader and
the writer. In a 2002 conversation with Michael Silverblatt he says that:
it is a question of the hospitality to the reader hospitality has nothing to do with being polite, or being frightened of
being offensive hospitality is a question of allowing a space in the story for the reader to take her or his place, then
that place has to be such that naturally there is the possibility of the reader participating, actually participating in the
telling of the story, and that finally at its most extreme comes to that line which I will misquote, but its the end of one of
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the marvellous Borges poems in which he says and the reader who has read this poem, he has written it. (My
transcript).
I think that there is a link here between the act of reading and what I will call a psychoanalytical situation (and Im
talking here of the broader processes of the psychoanalytical encounter, and not of any thematic or sectarian
preoccupations) [1]. The creative reader and practitioner might be said to be in the position of both analyst and
analysand. A sort of chimeric reader who is receptive to what Adam Phillips refers to as Side Effects (Phillips 2006),
those thoughts and responses which are unpredictable and surprising. To slip further into therapeutic language, one
might say that the opportunity of analysis (reading) is the opportunity for a speculative therapy (interpretation) and for a
collaborative and intuitive process of speaking and listening in a space of receptiveness and not knowing a leap into
a relative dark (ibid). The artist and writer Emma Cocker, in Tactics for Not knowing: Preparing for the Unexpected
(2013), suggests that to persist in a productive state of not knowing, given that we are culturally conditioned away from
such states, especially in academic and professional contexts, is a challenge. She insists, though, upon its worth,
stating that:
Artistic practice recognises the practice of not knowing, less as the preliminary state (of ignorance) preceding
knowledge, but as a field of desirable indeterminacy within which to work. Not knowing is an active space within
practice, wherein an artist hopes for an encounter with something new or unfamiliar, unrecognisable or unknown.
Emma Cockers essay is all about the value of not knowing and yet, paradoxically, not so very long ago, I would have
been afraid to read it, paralysed by a state of not knowing that I had no way of valuing. Far from feeling fruitful, it felt
shameful. Im going to use an analogy now that I think is from Alain Badiou (and Im purposefully using something here
that I may be attributing wrongly, and that I do not have the breadth of knowledge or the resources to verify or
disprove), and this is an analogy that talks of the weight of the water. A fish does not feel the weight of the water it is
the natural environment through which it moves instinctively. So a person who is comfortable in the environment of the
academy, the gallery, the institution, whether by class, education or the fact that such institutions represent their culture
and their interests, does not feel the weight of these waters. I used to really feel the weight of the water; now not so
much. Bergers habits of local and attentive looking and working, whilst indisputably informed, value the intuitive and
the not knowing, and provided me with a framework for valuing my own thinking, for meeting texts such as Emma
Cockers on equal terms.
PAYING ATTENTION: THE OUTDOORS AND THE ENCOUNTER
Seker Ahmet, on the other hand, faced the forest as a thing taking place in itself, as a presence that was so pressing
that he could not, as he had learned to do in Paris, maintain his distance from it. John Berger Seker Ahmet And The
Forest (1979)
In 2003 I recorded some audio-video footage whilst walking in woods near the house where I grew up, woods that had
been a childhood refuge. That day was the first time I had entered them for twenty years. A quarter mile away my
mother was slowly losing her grip on life, the woods visible from her bedroom window. I had no outcome in mind; the

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activity was initiated by the coming together of a need for


an hours respite from the days events, having a camera
to hand, and the proximity and familiarity of the woods
but in retrospect it was the beginning of what John
Newling evocatively calls a backward cartography
involving place and memory. The footage was first used
two years later, almost unedited, in a full room projection,
and has since undergone many transformations.
The walk that day was not the detached, often apolitical
drive or drift of the psychogeographer, but an
immersed experience of place that positioned the walker

Video still from Spelunker, Deep Sea Diver,

not as flotsam, not as neutral observer, not as touristic

Astronaut #3 (2014 version of footage from 2003),

seeker of sights, nor as conquering explorer, but as

Emma Bolland. To view film click here

attentive and receptive, as a brain and a body. More


importantly, as a corporeal and active body not the
passive, dissected, examined & observed post-modern

body, nor the male body to whom the privileged status of anonymous flaneur is more readily available (Solnit 2001)
but as a body that is part of, and subject and vulnerable to the narratives of the landscape; an experience having much
in common with what the artist and writer Helen Scalway (2002) describes as a kind of counter-flaneurie. It was a walk
in which thoughts and visions of the past, present and future, were collapsed into an experience of time as spatial. An
encounter with landmarks and sight-lines as inseparable from memory, prophesy, physical sensation and emotion: a
sensory and symbiotic extension of the Wordsworthian concept of moving with thought. The landscape told its own
history, and told and continues to tell me mine.
In 2012 I began collaborating with curator Judit Bodor
and artist Tom Rodgers on a project called
MilkyWayYouWillHearMeCall, for which the process of
experiential site visits and walks was adopted as a
deliberate research methodology. Our starting point was
the novel Nineteen Eighty by David Peace (2002), which
is a fictional retelling of an actual historical series of
events the murders committed by Peter Sutcliffe, the
so-called Yorkshire Ripper, and the subsequent hunt for
and capture of him in the city of Leeds in 1980. We went
to sites in the city based only on the directions or

Prince Phillip Playing Fields at Night. Photograph

descriptions given in the novel and began the processes

by Tom Rodgers (2012).

of attentive and intuitive exploration. What marked these


sites out was their anonymity, their lack of dramatic play.
There was no obvious story to be extracted from the

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topography itself a narrative was waited for and listened to, through a process of experience of and even meditation
on the site.
These walks differed from the walk around the woods, in that that we had gone there with an agenda to make art, or
at least to enact a process of creative research. However, there were similarities in that we had no agenda in terms of
the outcomes of this research we had made the decision that the research itself would suggest or even be its own
outcome. In Bentos Sketchbook (2011) Berger makes the point that whilst traditionally the term outcome refers to
how a story ends, it can also refer to how the listener or reader or spectator leaves the story to continue their ongoing
lives, and goes on to say that:
in following a story, we follow a storyteller, or, more precisely, we follow the trajectory of a storytellers attention
and that we become accustomed to the storytellers particular procedure of bestowing attention we begin to acquire
his storytelling habits
The narrative we started with was Davids writing, and our own relationships (all very different), with the sites and with
the histories enacted upon them. We attempted to allow the sites themselves to take over the narrative of both the
history and the author (David), and for the interactions and relationships of and between the sites and ourselves to
shape our actions and outcomes, to tell the story of our collaboration.
We realised that we had begun to enact informal rituals
and acts of remembrance. On the morning of a visit to
the Soldiers Field I impulsively put a vial of real gold dust
in my pocket, and at the site had used it to obliterate a
swastika that had been sprayed on a wall near to where
one of the murdered women was found. [2] The dust got
everywhere, and Judit drew attention to my metalled
hands. As I stretched them out towards her, Tom took
the photograph that captures them: weathered,
burnished and speaking of work and loss. The encounter
between the space, our actions and our interactions

Emmas hands, gilded. Photograph by Tom

invoked the image and the story of the present and the

Rodgers 2012.

past.
Crown and Target also captures a moment when place,

intuition, encounter, movement and collaboration came together. We were preparing to leave Lewisham Park. Tom was
at the car, his camera packed away. I had paused, and on an impulse pulled a clump of wet grasses from the earth and
twisted them into a circlet, placing them on my head; and, as I did so, turned back to call to Judit who was still in the
field. Tom heard my call, looked up, lifted the camera and captured the image with the last of his film. A sightline that
joins us to the space and to each other.

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John Berger | Emma Bolland

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TRESPASSING KNOWLEDGE: WALKING TOWARDS


PEDAGOGY
the idea for Ways of Seeing began with going round
museums and seeing so much insufferably, intolerably
boring stuff which was called art! and so we thought,
well maybe we should just accept this and admit it and
try and explain why it is so boring John Berger in
conversation with Michael Govan (2002)
Wrapped in luminous cloud, pushed by the wind, we

Crown and Target: Emma wearing a crown of

walk up out of Hayfield in the steps of the glorious

grasses, Lewisham Park. Photograph by Tom

trespass, April 1932. The cloud is not a metaphor, the art

Rodgers 2012.

is terrestrial. Eventually our heads will clear it. Stamping


the ground, stamping mystery and privilege into the soil,
we walk up into our work, hauled on our breath. The

foundation of the state is not violence but education. Thought is free on the wind-steps. Rills under grass arches. It can
only be a completely open field.
Peter Riley The Ascent of Kinder Scout (2014)
We decided that we wanted to try to use walking as
research as a tool for teaching and learning with people
in settings outside of formal education. [3] In the Place
and Memory project, which ran from June 2013 to May
2014, we worked with eight adults with mental health
difficulties who wanted to develop their creative practice.
With varying states of confidence, recovery and previous
education, its fair to say that they really, really felt the
weight of the water. We needed to enable them to take
ownership of research, knowledge and expertise,
and remove this conceptual territory from the hands of

Place and Memory: underpass in Seacroft, Leeds.

the institution, the academy and what they perceived as

Photograph Tom Rodgers 2013.

the elite other. Tom, Judit and I all had our own
overlapping and complimentary frameworks for
facilitating this. Judit, for instance, brought the ideas of
the French artist Robert Filliou and his 1970 document

Teaching and Learning as Performing Arts to bear, perhaps summed up in this quote:
Research is not the privilege of people who know on the contrary it is the domain of people who do not know. Every
time we are turning our attention to something we dont know we are doing research. Fillou (1970)

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What all three of us emphasised was the importance of the participants each developing and valuing their own ways of
looking, moving and paying attention. In his introduction to Understanding a Photograph (2013) Geoff Dyer states, with
reference to research and criticism, that Bergers method was always too personal, the habits of the autodidact too
ingrained, to succumb to the kind of discourse that seized cultural studies in the 70s and 80s. And Berger himself
states, in his conversation with Michael Govan, that all of his writing as an art critic came first and foremost, not from
reading biographies or art historical documents, but from looking at the work. We also accepted that they could
challenge the orthodoxies that we would inevitably bring to our teaching. As project mentors, we had to accept the
criticisms levelled at us about the ways in which we presented our versions of culture and practice, and about the ways
in which we used, and I quote, arty bollocks wank speak. It pleases me greatly that the author of that phrase was
recently accepted onto an MA in Creative Practice, where she promises that she will continue to challenge and unpick
such language.
The eight participants were each given the task of choosing a place or
places in the city that held, or could potentially create, memory or meaning
for them. Over the summer we went as a group on long research walks,
[4] talking, drawing, collecting, photographing, recording sound and
moving image, asking ourselves questions about these places, sharing
stories so that new stories might be told back to us, but most of all paying
attention, listening to the space. The sites we explored included
woodlands, wastelands, housing estates, disused graveyards and the
place where a river flows underneath the city. One of the participants took
us to a hospitals Accident and Emergency unit where she had spent a
traumatic night, and we retraced her journey around its corridors in covert
ones and twos, meeting on corners to exchange whispers. Filming and
audio-recording on hidden devices.
The Place and Memory participants started from the position of an unvalued not-knowing, and worked and walked over the space of a year to a

Filming underneath the Dark

position of valued not knowing to an ownership of knowledge and

Arches, Leeds. Photograph Tom

research, to an ownership of their own learning, and to an ownership of a

Rodgers 2013.

creative practice. They developed (to varying degrees) the muscle to resist
the weight of the water and created works that have an authoritative voice,
but that still leave both their audience and themselves a productive space

of uncertainty.
_______________________________________________

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The Place and Memory project outcomes included two exhibitions, film screenings,
performances and readings, a creative documentary using footage and texts from
the site visits (to view the film see below) and a book that wove their visual work,
photographic documentation and writings into a text / image psychogeographical
poem that explores the emotions of place across the city of Leeds during the
summer of 2013. The book costs 5 plus post and package and is published by
Gordian Projects: you can find out more and buy the book here.

FOOTNOTES
[1] It might seem odd to talk of psychoanalysis where Berger is concerned, given that he is often (though not always)
dismissive of its theory, at least where Freud is concerned. (See John Berger with Michael Silverblatt, Conversation 1,
link below).
[2] The tiny vial of gold dust had been bought in 2002 on a trip to Venice with my mother (then aged 82) a year after my
father died and a year before she died. She walked my legs off, fearlessly hopping on and off the Vaporetti, and,
somewhat suspiciously all the bar owners with whom she flirted outrageously greeted her by name and pulled
bottles of homemade extra-strong Fragolino from under the counter to pour her a measure without her having to ask.
Born into poverty on a working coal barge in 1919 a fact we only discovered after her death she had reinvented
herself in a spectacular fashion. A capricious, cold and bewildering disaster as a mother, as a woman she was to be
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admired.
[3] In February 2014 I used some of the teaching and learning tactics developed in Place and Memory with students on
the MA in Art, Society and Publics at DJCAD, University of Dundee. For visual and textual documentation of the
workshops and their outcomes, and an annotated suggested reading list click here.
[4] A note here about walking. Walking is free, useful, democratic, and often political in terms of environmental impact
and issues of private and public space. Above all it is ordinary. Although walking and the concept of walking are rich
areas for creative thought and exploration, walking is not the property of psychogeographers, urban explorers, or
anyone who seeks to mystify and intellectualise the everyday. It belongs to all of us and we should glory in that.
BIBLIOGRAPHY / SOURCES
Berger, J. Field (1971), in About Looking (2009) Bloomsbury.
Berger, J. Uses of Photography: For Susan Sontag (1978), in Understanding a Photograph (2013) ed. Dyer, G. Penguin
Classics, London.
Berger, J. Seker Ahmet and the Forest (1979), in About Looking (2009) Bloomsbury.
Berger, J. Bentos Sketchbook (2011)
John Berger with Michael Govan, Conversation 3, Episode 6, October 2002
http://podcast.lannan.org/2010/03/30/john-berger-with-michael-govan-conversation/
John Berger with Michael Silverblatt, Conversation 2, Episode 5, October 2002
http://podcast.lannan.org/2010/03/29/john-berger-with-michael-silverblatt-conversation-2/
Bolland, E. Tides, Texts and Transformations (2014) http://emmabolland.com/2014/05/16/tides-texts-andtransformations-unpacking-my-library/
Cocker, E. Tactics for Not knowing: Preparing for the Unexpected (2013), in On Not Knowing: How Artists Think (2013)
ed. Fisher, E. & Fortnum, R. Black Dog Publishing, London.
Dyer, G. Introduction to Understanding a Photograph (2013), Berger, J. ed. Dyer, G. Penguin Classics, London.
Filliou, R. Teaching and Learning as Performing Arts (1970). Translated facsimile published 2014 by Occasional Papers.
Lewis, B. (2014) In conversation.

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Newling, J. Writings by John Newling 1995 2005 (2005) ed. Newling, A., SWPA.
Phillips, A. Side Effects (2006) Hamish Hamilton, London.
Riley, P. The Ascent of Kinder Scout (2014) Longbarrow Press, Sheffield
Scalway, H. The Contemporary Flaneuse: Exploring Strategies for the Drifter in a Feminine Mode (2002).
Solnit, R. Wanderlust: A History of Walking (2001) Verso, London.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Art and writing, Cardi Metropolitan University, Cardi School of
Education, David Peace, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Emma Bolland, John Berger,
MilkyWayYouWillHearMeCall, pedagogy, Professor Je Wallace, psychogeography, Teaching, Thinking With
John Berger conference, University of Dundee | 1 Reply

Fields Of Knowledge: Abstract for Thinking


With John Berger
Posted on April 3, 2014
I am delighted to be presenting a paper at Thinking With John Berger, a conference to be held at Cardiff Metropolitan
University, 4th 5th September 2014. My draft abstract follows below:
FIELDS OF KNOWLEDGE: BERGER, THE OUTDOORS, AND THE POSSIBILITIES OF EXPERIENTIAL PRACTICE
(working title).
At first I referred to the field as a space awaiting events; now I refer to it as an event in itself. John Berger Field
(1971)

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Our Shadows: Emma Bolland and Judit Bodor walking in Prince Phillip Playing Fields, Leeds. Photograph: Judit
Bodor 2012

Who determines what research and academic practice is? Where do the boundaries of the academy lie? As artists and
educators, how and why do we challenge and disrupt these hierarchies? In Seker Ahmet and the Forest (1979), Berger
describes Ahmets painting as having authority despite a disruption of academic style that in other instances might lend
a work a lack of conviction. Berger seems to argue that the painters relationship with place insists on an experiential
telling of forest which supersedes academic orthodoxies of 19thC landscape painting. The painting conveys the
immersive / lived / attentive, not the observational / touristic / detached. Bergers own practice consistently
references the outdoor nearby (whether or not the nearby is in London or the West Bank), particularly in relation to the
reach of the walking / physical body, the encounter and the everyday. He writes at kitchen tables, and draws the
objects and faces that are part of his material and physical immediacy.
These habits of local and attentive looking can offer up possibilities for developing strategies for research, practice,
teaching and learning that value the intuitive and the not knowing, and challenge the ownership of knowledge and the
hegemonies of institutions. This paper will explore the potential of ambulant research and walking as pedagogy in
questioning relationships between the orthodox and the unruly, the academic and the emotional, the empirical /
validated and the wondering / intuitive, and for shifting the boundaries of the academy into spaces and amongst
people who might feel excluded or intimidated by hierarchies of specialist knowledge. I will argue that through such

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processes and attending to the local, official narratives of knowledge ownership and expertise can not simply be
challenged but also enriched. I will look at their potentialities both inside and outside of the institution, with reference to
my own and others creative and teaching practice.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Cardi Metropolitan University, Emma Bolland, John Berger, pedagogy,
Teaching, Thinking With John Berger | 1 Reply

Unearthing #2
Posted on November 24, 2013
For an audio version of Unearthing #2 click the Soundcloud bar below: (recorded and edited by Brian Lewis).
EmmaBolland

Unearthing*#2

8:28

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11

The chariots of the gods in even poise, obeying the rein, glide rapidly; but the others labour, for the vicious steed goes
heavily, weighing down the charioteer to the earth when his steed has not been thoroughly trained:-and this is the hour
of agony and extremest conflict for the soul. from Phaedrus. Plato circa 360 BCE
I wrote in Unearthing #1 of the rediscovery of forgotten works, buried in memory sticks and external hard-drives. Park,
the piece discussed therein is large and labour intensive around 100 square feet of coloured drawing but the work I
address here can be disappeared in a trice.
Black Pony comprises a herd of white horses cut from paper card, a corresponding number of clear plastic map pins,
and the blue light cast from an unloaded data projector. At the time of its making much of my work, either consciously
or unconsciously, had been drawing upon the world of my rural childhood: the sharp contrast between the illusory idyll
of the countryside, and the actuality of an experienced geographical and societal isolation, and a disconnection with the
accepted entertainments and aspirations of such a society. Festivals and fetes, sadness and madness. May Queens
garlanded, hedgerows uprooted.
Central to the lives of many small girls (whether or not they possessed one) was the pony. A preparatory erotic, a
prepubescent love. A repository of detail that rivalled any boys mental catalogue of strikers and strips. I can intone the

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litany of breeds and tack even now. Appaloosa,


Palomino, Percheron and Shire; Kimberwick, Snaffle and
Gag. The narrative of pony books, whether fiction or
true life offered up an uncomplicated world of a
seemingly classless triumph over adversity; the child as
powerful, independent, strong and fulfilled. Jump For
Joy, Jills Gymkhana, My Friend Flicka, Rosettes For
Jill the titles tell their own tale. The reality could be
horribly different. Snobbery and humiliation, the staring
coats of neglected nags. I longed to be part of the glossy
haunched circle of beribboned success (I failed), yet the
idea of also it left me alienated and dissatisfied. I learned

Black Pony. Paper, map pins, blue screen light.

to draw by copying the pictures in the Observer Pocket

Emma Bolland. 2007

Book Of Horses And Ponies, yet I needed something


other than the thing I yearned for.
I was dogged by childhood
depression. Melancholia, a work
made in 2005 was an overt
expression of those experiences, a
nod to both the existence of an
abstract sadness, an unresolved
grieving for the intangible, and for
the necessity of a degree of such
emotions in order to be a complex,
layered human being. Its form is a
mockery of the bright rosettes that
adorned the anointed at the
gymkhanas and village fetes of my

Melancholia. Rosette. Fabric


and printed card.
Unnumbered edition of 100.
Emma Bolland. 2005

Pierrot (also known as Gilles)


(1718 19). Jean-Antoine
Watteau.

youth. In a roundabout way, the


work connects with my gravitation
towards those canonical artists
who dealt with the shadows in the
pleasure garden; exemplified, for
me, in works such as Embarkation

To Cythera (1717), and Pierrot (also know as Gilles) (1718 19), both by Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684 1721). John
Berger, in his essays on drawing, points out that although he mostly painted clowns, harlequins, ftes and what we
would now call fancy-dress balls, his was [...] the theme of mortality. Silks and satins were the fragile cloak of a corrupt,
narcissistic, oppressive and doomed regime. (By 1789 the guillotines would be falling, and the bloody journey towards a
problematic republic begun).

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Some time after the making of Melancholia, against a backdrop of severe depression, a reassessment of
psychoanalytical thinking as something more nuanced than I had previously considered it to be, and an interest in the
pervasiveness of Romantic artistic and literary narratives of the criminal, the abject and the mad, (from the sublime to
the ridiculous, see Thodore Gricaults portraits of the insane, Cesare Lombrosos pseudo-scientific physiognomcal
theories, Robert Louis Stevensons Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, and Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubars excellent The
Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination), in short, the histories and
possibilities, both empathic and intelligent, and reductive and discriminatory, for thinking about psychic complexity, for
thinking about struggle; I came across Platos Phaedrus.
Phaedrus is everything I should hate. Classical, rhetorical,
knowing, overly authorial, yet its simple metaphor for the
human soul (however one chooses to interpret the word) is
to me, whilst problematic, both brilliant and rich. Plato
visualises the soul as tripartite. A man holds the reins of a
chariot with two horses, the biddable and the unruly,
sometimes translated as the white and the black. (There is
an obvious, if partial correlation in Freuds imagining of the
Ego, Superego and Id). The biddable horse kept a steady
course, whilst the vicious steed bolted and bucked,
dragging the chariot from the road, refusing the commands
of the rein and the whip. Plato articulates the white and the
black, though harnessed together, as separate entities
good and bad, noble and ignoble but I saw them as
irrevocably entwined, harnessed or no, fluid, permeable
beings.
The little horses were carefully cut from thin white card, their
forms taken from a How To Draw Horses book. All the

Black Pony (detail2). Paper, map pins and blue


screen light. 2007

movements and silhouettes of the childhood imagination


were to be found in its pages: galloping, prancing, jumping;
the graceful palfrey and the buckaroo. I remember sitting at
my work desk, unwell, the fog of melancholy heavy in the air.
The work was fiddly, painstaking; here and there a leg was

crumpled, a head sliced off by a slipping scalpel. A sore red ridge formed on my finger from the constant pressing down
of the blade. When they were done I delivered them to the gallery, the curator wondering where the large wall work that
I had proposed was, bemused when I fetched it from my pocket. They were pinned to the wall with map pins (the yokes
that would bind them to their shadow) and the blue light of a data projector illuminated their dark other. I loved the black
ponies. I love my black pony. It too deserves care.
(Postscript: About a month ago the Berlin based poet Alistair Noon stayed at my house whilst in the UK for some

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John Berger | Emma Bolland

10/29/14, 9:45 AM

readings. Alistairs allergies meant that I had to thoroughly clean the house. As a result of this endeavour, like Park, in
Unearthing #1, Black Pony has been found, the little paper horses discovered corralled into an envelope at the bottom
of a long sealed box at the back of the studio. Somewhat appositely, Alistair is a translator of Pushkins The Bronze
Horseman, published by Longbarrow Press)
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Alistair Noon, Antoine Watteau, Aristotle, art, Cesare Lombroso, childhood,
depression, Emma Bolland, John Berger, Longbarrow Press, Phaedrus, Plato, Pushkin, Robert Louis
Stevenson, Romanticism, Sandra Gilbert, Socrates, Susan Gubar, Thodore Gricault, The Bronze
Horseman, The Madwoman in the Attic | Leave a reply

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