Monday, 27 April 2015

Merry May: 'Minehead Hobby Horse' Research Notes


The Minehead Hobby Horse: An Awakening - Becoming Horse/Boat/Myth - Horseplay


Warning Night, An Awakening:
The horse is awoken; the rider begins their process of becoming animal, their body assimilated into the horses.

May Day, Becoming Horse/Boat/Myth:
Beginning at 5am the awoken horse perambulates the old borders of the town, processing from the Quay to Whitecross and then to Dunster Castle. The act of boundary marking reinforces an insular space in which non-human becomings can occur and the myths shared by the community can be invoked. This is particularly evident in the strange shaping of the horse, though technically a horse it is also unmistakably boat shaped, a shape that invokes the myth of an unmanned ghostly ship entering the harbour and another myth of Viking invaders being chased back into their boats by the town’s populace dressed as this strange beast. The horse through its becoming other acts as the representative of the community and its shared history.

The Bootie, Horseplay:

The assimilation of the rider leads to “horseplay” and chaos, which is particularly evident during the Bootie at Cher. A spectator is caught by two members of the Hobby Horse team, and is booted ten times. The spectator then has to avoid the whipping of the horses tail afterwards in a dance.

“There is a becoming-animal not content to proceed by resemblance and for which resemblance, on the contrary, would represent an obstacle or stoppage”, Deleuze and Guattari (A Thousand Plateaus, 1988).

- Arianne Churchman

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