Who is Roddy Hunter? Glaswegian--not British as the program states, but not really Glaswegian. He's from a town outside Glasgow. Tall. He's very tall. As God is my witness, he is a tall and affable guy. He wears very nice boots--black, with a subtle hint of rockabilly style. Hunter teaches art--not at Dartington as the program says, but at a University in York. I found him in the kitchen at the Western Front this morning grinding bottles of aspirin. I tried to suppress my distress at not being able to find the Western Front's giant teapot (long story). I didn't want to take up too much of the artist's space with my own sturm und drang.
There is a picture of a hen and chicks succulent in a pot on a windowsill of the artist's home. There are dishes drying in the sink. It feels homey, but infused with a sense of melancholy. On the right side of the screen, I am struck by an image of the artist's black boots on the blue rug of an airplane. It is a banal photo, typical of what we all see when we travel. Many of the photos on the right are generic--airport waiting rooms and hallways, and escalators. He could be any number of places. The aesthetics of travel are tired and dull. It's the destination that contains the color. He teases us with one photograph out of his Vancouver hotel room, but most of the photos are of limbo.
Did I mention there is a performer in the room? He is seated, but even so, you can tell he is a tall man with long fingers. He is dressed in black, his head is covered with white gauze and he is wearing the same black boots that Roddy Hunter wears. But he is not Roddy Hunter, not really. He is a man suppressing emotion and identity. His gestures are slow and forcibly controlled as if he were trying very hard to hold something that is not there. He's suppressing some kind of strong feeling and I feel unsettled by because I can't identify what it is. Is he angry, anguished, frustrated; or is he trying very hard to send a message to someone very far away?
The artist is working very hard. His hands shake with effort. He looks out at us impassively, but my body contracts in response to his suppressed gestures. I am uncomfortable, and the images numb me. It's a bit like being trapped on an airplane for a three-hour long flight. I can't help shifting and sighing loudly. Once again, I try not to be too loud or inappropriate. In the last ten minutes of the three hour endurance piece he hold his hands over the Vancouver aspirin mound, then the York aspirin mound, before he sits down and waits for another artist to tap his shoulder when it is five o'clock. Is he a disfunctional conjuror? A psychic alchemist? Maybe he is here in real time and space, but part of him is still in transit. Tune in tomorrow for part two--same bat time, same bat place.
LIVE5 Photos: Roddy Hunter Photo Set