William Hunt, Still Yourself and Calm Your Boots

William Hunt, Still Yourself and Calm Your Boots

William Hunt makes the kind of art that divides viewers. Are his performances self-indulgent or revelatory? Does his work shift somewhere along the way from personal challenge to a form of self-harm? His wife raises these issues in A Moment’s Hesitation, a video piece documenting a 2012 interview in which he first mentions his idea for another work to her. “The next idea is a car crash,” he tells her. He’s not speaking metaphorically.

Two years later, he made Still Yourself and Calm Your Boots, which forms the main installation here. In it, he crashes a car, at speed, into a concrete barrier. The impact is accompanied by an explosion of white paint. Afterwards, shaken and breathless, he sings a song he composed for this car-crash-as-performance in a plaintive, wobbly voice: “I’m standing here and you’re far too near and I’m playing the goat.” He’s an effective, if slightly absurd anti-hero, the victim of a self-engineered shock.

In the past, Hunt has played a piano while being physically crushed by its weight and sung out loud while trapped underwater. “I know that I mean it when I’m prepared to take that risk,” he tells his wife. He won’t answer her question about whether he is unhappy and her distress when she mentions their “two little children” provide the show’s most moving moment, proving that, in art as in life, real emotions trump engineered, adrenalin-baiting stunts any day.

Playing the Goat is at Crawford Gallery of Art, Cork until 20 February 2016.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This