Kathleen Herbert: Stable
March 07–June 08, 2014
Stable—both the present video’s title and the word itself—evokes multiple meanings and timeframes. This is, in fact, the artist’s intention, as Herbert’s interests explore, through performance and super 16mm video, issues of site specificity and the tension between historical time and today. As the artist-in-residence at Gloucester Cathedral, she was inspired by stories of the “Roundheads”—Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers during the English Civil War—stabling their horses in the Cathedral. This was not only a sign of the vicissitudes of war, but it was a political statement by the Puritans about their lack of respect for the Church of England and its titular head, King Charles I. Thus we see a horse wander throughout the sacred space of the cathedral, past tombs, altars, and chapels, over worn stone thresholds.
Inescapably, the presence of animals in a sacred space brings to mind Christ’s Nativity, his humble birth, being laid in a manger. The manger was the trough from which the livestock—horses, donkeys, cows, and the like—ate (from the old French variants for “food trough” and “to eat”). In yet another layer of intrique, the horse in this setting suggests the Christmas presepio, or Nativity scene, set up in churches around the world during the season, and indeed the traditional Christmas pageant, with young children and live animals performing in the church or just outside. Herbert collapses time and space, creating an evocative memory both distant and present.
Major support for MOBIA’s exhibitions and programs is provided by American Bible Society and by Howard and Roberta Ahmanson. Additional support is provided by the Atrium Café by Gabriel’s.
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.