Michael Lasater Gallery
Hurdy-Gurdy Man (2019)                               single-channel video, stereo

Digitized archive film and photograph, digitized painting, sound, animation.

The boy with the brass instrument is my father, probably about age sixteen (1931), dressed for a high school band concert. The hurdy-gurdy man is a short footage loop appropriated from Walter Ruttmann’s film Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927). I’ve brought these two near-contemporary visual elements together in a setting that to me carries reference to Schubert’s Der Leiermann (Hurdy-Gurdy Man) from his song cycle Die Winterreise (Winter Journey). At the end of his journey, the singer-protagonist comes to the edge of town. There he encounters a hurdy-gurdy man: Strange old man, shall I go with you? Will you play your hurdy-gurdy for my songs? Some have suggested that the hurdy-gurdy man might represent death, or the journeyer in self-confrontation, or even Schubert himself. The text border is from D.H. Lawrence: Have you built your ship of death, O have you? O build your ship of death, for you will need it.