SWITCH. Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation. Iowa State Fairgrounds and Capital Square, Des Moines, Iowa. 2016.

This two-site installation encouraged visitors to draw connections between the history of rural Iowa and its contemporary agricultural landscape, and to explore new avenues for cultural connection and discourse between rural and urban spaces. An installation of archived materials related to Iowa horse culture was presented at the fair site while a video projection made from a show horse’s perspective was shown at the busy downtown Capital Square site. The following poem was featured prominently at both sites.

Switch by Seán Ó Ríordáin

“Gwawnowwdat,” said Turnbull, “and take a good look

      at the pain in a horse’s eyes.

If you’d a pair of dragging hooves on you, it’s short work

      they’d make of the smile on your face.”

You could see that he understood, and his fellow-feeling

      for the pain in the horse’s eyes;

and that dwelling on it so long he’d finally stolen

      into the innermost space

of   the horse’s pain that I saw, too, trying to plumb

     the depths of  pain that it felt;

until it was Turnbull’s eyes I saw starting out from

     that suffering horse’s pelt.

I looked at Turnbull and saw set under his brow

      as I looked him up and down twice

the two, too-big eyes that were speechless with sorrow:

      the horse’s eyes.