Hatch Twelve: Greg Wohead

Text: Wayne Burrows
Photography: Julian Hughes

Greg Wohead: Rear-view Mirror

The last time the London based Texan Greg Wohead appeared in Leicester was earlier in the summer when he presented an embryonic version of The Many Apologies of Pecos Bill as part of Hatch: Scratch, but his contribution to Twelve is an altogether different set-up, despite sharing the one-man nature of the performance and some comparable reflections on Wohead’s own past memories of life in Texas with its predecessor. In Rear-view Mirror, the theme is a kind of time-travel, mediated by the decidedly retro technology of a cassette tape and headphones placed on a balcony on the outside of the Embrace Arts building, overlooking the forecourt and road.

When we step onto the balcony a note tells us to put on the headset and press play, and once we do Wohead’s voice begins to speak very quietly. We are asked to consider the nature of time and to look over the road, where Wohead can be seen standing on a pavement opposite. The voice explains that the thoughts we’re hearing were recorded earlier that day, so the displacement of the audio and Wohead’s own presence is emphasised: the figure we see, wearing his favourite blue and white sweater and a scarf, is talking to us in the past, even as we stand on the balcony and watch him in the present.

This displacement is made more suggestive by the way that joggers, mothers with pushchairs and other passers-by seem to walk by without noticing Wohead, even as he choreographs semaphore gestures to communicate with us and ensure he can be seen. Accidentally, perhaps, the impression that he may be invisible to everyone but the sole participant in each performance becomes a factor. As the tape unspools, and Wohead discusses ideas about the flow of time interspersed with some memories of his own – notably a recollection of being involved in a minor traffic accident in Texas in his youth – the notion of rewinding time to escape moments of past embarrassment, difficulty and loss is raised.

Near the conclusion, we’re asked to imagine a moment of our own that we might want to reverse and leave behind, then visualise it and – at a certain moment – mentally free ourselves from its clutches in a small act of imaginative escapology. With that, the moment is gone, and we’re brought back to the present, the performance ending with a practical and metaphorical rewinding of the cassette ready for the next participant. The structure is strong and the slightly unreal air generated is real enough – though the memories evoked seemed relatively slight: perhaps a good thing, insofar as this keeps our focus on the formal qualities of the presentation, but does the lightness of touch reinforce the sense of an inconsequential moment assuming significance over time, or might the evocation of some weightier material produce a deeper, more memorable piece?


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