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Water Training


I remember the first time I saw a herd of horses out in a field. Something startled them, and in mass, they spun in the air. muscles rippling and hooves striking out. As I watched the roaring, sweating. snorting beasts, my childhood fantasies of a gentle friend melted away to be replaced by fear and awe. Eventually, I lost the fear, but I have always known that the horse is not a docile pet; it has never been completely tamed.

In Water Training, an image of a horse's head is projected and enlarged to fill a wall. The image is not the normal view of a noble animal, in the video loop, a specific moment of panic is magnified. The horse is harnessed in a pool of water, much deeper than its own height. Powerless to make any progress toward safety, the horse must continuously swim to save itself from drowning. In the moment caught by the camera, the trapped and isolated horse alternates between rage and fear.

Synchronizsd swimmers train intensively, for hours every day, in order to present a seemingly effortless performance. From its underwater perspective, the second video of Water Training reveals the extreme effort needed to execute above water movements with grace and precision. The young swimmers are a combination of graceful spiraling arms and humorous egg-beater legs, fluid motion and chaotic scrambling.

Linked by the gaze of the viewer, these two images engage in a paradoxical dance of associations: paralysis and vitality, awkwardness and grace, terror and joy. Like the subjects of a peep show, the horse and girls reveal themselves to us, yet remain unaware - isolated by water and the frame of the camera. We watch without participating, voyeurs, unable to look away.

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2009 Janet Biggs     Contact info.