Hatch Twelve: The Strange Names Collective

Text: Wayne Burrows
Photography: Julian Hughes

The Strange Names Collective: A Descent is Not a Fall/A Climb is Not an Ascent

The balcony from which Greg Wohead’s Rear-view Mirror is experienced is located on the other side of the Embrace dance studio, a room with one floor-to-ceiling mirrored wall where Philip Stanier’s Winchester-based Strange Names Collective (for this outing, it seems, consisting solely of Stanier himself, who appears to take no breaks) spend the full twelve hours of the day, 11am until 11pm, working through a strange, rambling historical lecture housed in a large box file, the speaker reading each page into a microphone from a seat high on a scaffolding tower, then letting it fall to the floor of the studio, which gradually fills with discarded notes and observations: by the end of the day, the floor is carpeted like an autumn woodland with white A4 sheets.

On the ceiling, projected still images succeed one-another, sometimes illustrating the points being made by the words, sometimes redirecting them. Dipping in and out through the afternoon and evening, certain stories seem to be recurring, each time told with a different emphasis or viewed from a new angle. The cornerstone appears to be a episode in which the former US President Teddy Roosevelt was shot in 1912, then delivered a 90 minute speech immediately afterwards, but this story becomes a kind of shifting signifier, taking on a variety of meanings as it recurs in different contexts and alongside different images: the fact of the bullet remaining in Roosevelt’s chest, a piece of immovable historical shrapnel, seems the core metaphor of the entire 12-hour lecture.

During his durational monologue, Stanier touches on astronomy, Milton’s Paradise Lost, shipping routes, Hollywood films and much else besides, his 600+ slides themselves altering the frameworks in which his words are heard. As the title suggests, the intention seems to be an exploration of cultural ideas surrounding heroism and villainy, ascents to and falls from grace, with the distinctions between these categories kept slippery and unfixed. It’s hard to know how far the ongoing commentary followed a larger structure that would have been perceptible to anyone staying for the whole 12 hours, and how far it remained fragmentary, as it appeared to those who drifted in and out of the room and heard only ten or fifteen-minute fragments of the whole.


2 Responses to “Hatch Twelve: The Strange Names Collective”

  1. 1 Phil Stanier Friday at 7:04 pm

    Just for info: I took one 10 min break, 5 hours in, when I reached the subject of ‘Zero’.

  2. 2 wayneburrows Friday at 7:17 pm

    Ten minutes in 12 hours, though? Not much. Hope someone from Hatch was bringing you strong coffee and water at least…

    Given the schedule, I felt I didn’t get to spend quite as long with this as I needed to get a sense of some of the bigger patterns I suspect were emerging over time.

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