In hiking universe, dark matter comprises not only health and leisure, but also travel to a trailhead. We still need to drive in order to walk. “Taking a Wheel for a Walk” asks what would happen if, after a car delivers us to the trail, we had to take part of the car the rest of the way up the mountain with us. In a version of teen parenting class, the environmental load of this conference and individual outing becomes a burden we can’t leave behind.
This project addresses the theme of future landscapes with the peculiar properties of its materials. Earlier in my career, I made land art with old tires. I liked their softness underfoot, but could not overcome their smell, or the way they can’t really be discarded. It’s a weird but telling fact that tires are so buoyant they won’t stay buried. Cover them with the heaviest earth movers, and within months, they work their way back to the surface. Fitting, then, that tires are also a tool of resistance movements around the world.
Wheel is a project to be performed on site in Prespa if the concept or conditions fit. A series of actions create a landscape and then change it. Originally conceived for a gravel pit, abandoned mine, or exposed ridgetop, it might also work on a sloping roof.
The event is structured by the following sequence of actions.
-Before the outing, fill car trunk(s) with used tires and innertubes -- at least one per participant.
-Participants drive up to a trailhead. Lead artists park their own rental car, jack it up, and take off the wheels. This car remains on jacks or blocks for the duration of the hike.
-Cover the seats with tablecloths, and seat the wheels upright inside. For the duration of the walk, the wheels stand watch against a theft that’s already happened.
-Open the car trunks; remove collected tires.
-The group improvises how to carry the tires up the hill. Some may roll, others drag behind/ carry on a pole/ wear over their necks like bandoliers.
-Group gathers at summit, then releases the tires, which roll til they fall over. Use these points to plot out the limits of an imaginary snow cap with rope or fabric. The shape of this glacier sprawls like the Cretan octopus in Jack Whitten’s imagination. The tires become its restless and grasping sucker feet.
-Extend darker ropes to each tire from the summit. Pull the tires up to shrink the glacier.
-Assemble retrieved tires into a picnic seat. Drape with tablecloths. Enjoy a lunch.
As a lifelong technical worker, I feel confident about its basic automotive procedures. The challenges lie in finding a site, and procuring materials in a foreign language.