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: