The Inside Story on the Horses
Did y’all read the responses to my last post?
I was going to tell you, but someone wrote in and did it for me: The very day after I took those pictures, which was the very day after the new horses were installed, someone clipped those two horses as well. At first I thought, what a jerk. I speculated that someone was getting sick of the horse game and had decided to spoil it for everyone else by stomping through the room and breaking all the toys. And though I almost dare not admit this publicly, and though I have been enjoying the horse game in my curmudgeonly way, a miniscule part of me had also been thinking, “Enough is enough. Where does it end? Am I fated to finish out my days living in a city peppered with plastic horses?”
I pictured myself on a visit to Mongolia or the Côte D’Ivoire or Tierra del Fuego, telling someone I’m from Portland and having them answer “Oh. Isn’t that the City of Plastic Horses?” and then expecting me to be able to account for the whole absurd phenomenon.
Word gets around quickly about every little thing these days, and I when I say “around” I mean around the world. It was bad enough that pre-Internet, pre-email Olympic year I spent in Czechoslovakia and people kept asking “Isn’t that where Tanya Harding is from?”
“Yes,” I’d answer. “Watch your knees.”
Recently the horses made the Sunday pull-out section of the papers and now it’s becoming common knowledge – at least in Portland -- that this is all part of someone’s perverse plan. I kind of liked it better when the horses were a perplexing mystery. I sort of think the artist should have gone to great lengths to conceal his identity while continuing to relentlessly install the horses. That would have driven people mad – ha ha. I fear that now people have a conclusion to the mystery and can mentally dismiss the whole thing.
I love the second posting by reader Jessica which I reprint here:
1. The horse at the top used to be in my collection when I was a tot living on a horse farm (real ones in the farm, fake ones in my bedroom). 2. The horse project website is fab... I LOVE it. I also think that maybe someone really likes the horses, and that's why the cables are clipped - they like them so much they want to take them home. Probably not the truth, but it could be. Either way, keep up the good work!!!
Can you believe someone is donating their own childhood horses! That is absolutely adorable. And her conclusion about the person taking the horses – what a kind view. A view indicative of empathy and curiosity, based a presumption that people are inherently good -- as opposed to my own happy and uplifting conclusion that people tend to be jerks.
And now “thisrabbit” has posted a new comment, taking Jessica’s idea a step further: “i have this Lovely Idea of a little girl who is stocking her small horse collection with these - as if the Horsie Fariy comes to visit every so often...”
Actually, I have been in touch with the artist. His name is Scott Wayne Indiana, and you can see his intriguing website at http://www.39forks.com/fbs/projects/projects-index.html. Being aware that the reaction of the audience is an important part of any art show, I knew he’d be interested in my recording of one of the horse installations. Soon after, he emailed me to let me know that a large posse had formed, twenty people or more -- people he didn’t even know -- who had contacted him to say they were heading out with sacks of plastic horses to blanket the city. He thought I might like to join them. But I chose not to participate in that particular activity, feeling that it would be somehow cheating in my role as an impartial observer / stenographer / photographer of part of the exhibit.
This whole horse weirdness reminds me of that practice in New York City some time in the late nineties, when there was some kind of a phone tree in place whereby hundreds of people would be notified to suddenly convene on a certain shop or location for no reason whatsoever. I don’t remember what it was called, but a hilarious time was had by all.