THE MOON AND THE SLEDGEHAMMER
If you go down to the woods today you’re in for a big surprise.
We’ve climbed a mountain and passed a valley of fear, there is thick woodland and in it a clearing. Butler’s Erewohn?
Gun shots ring out.
The camera explores the landscape, the fecund and verdant landscape.
A closer inspection. Close-ups. Close.
Smoke billows out of the cabin in the clearing.
Skeletal car carcasses, buses, heavy metal inland flotsam and jetsam.
A forlorn piano playing along to things pastoral.
Or is that the tinkersound of Tom Waits?
Who are these people?
More gun shots.
Where are these people?
There he is.
Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen
Battered, beautiful and Beuysian besuited.
No teeth, gnarled drift wood face, sump-oil soaked cigarette stuck to the corner of his mouth and welcoming.
Stand back you boys as the elephant’s about to make water
Of all the felt hats I felt, I never felt a felt hat like this felt hat felt
We are in the world of Philip Trevelyan’s The Moon And The Sledgehammer.
It is 1971 and the spell has been cast.
It was maybe ten years later that I saw the film. Transfixed, it transformed the way in which I would make my own work.
A template for and the believable heaviness of making.
The Sussex landscape is the real place. But this is a thousand places, a thousand faces. I’ve stumbled across them in South America, The High Andes, Kenya, Madagascar and The French Pyrenees.
All round England and back again.
Wizened, weather beaten, life-ridden oracles.
And Richard Stanley (camera) has captured it in order that Trevelyan can make his magic. The father, the sisters and the holey sons beguile with Pagean banter. (What happened to the mother?) Not cant but manna.
The world’s all to pieces isn’t it? They’re like a lot of rats and mice in England. They don’t know what they are going to do.
It’s a good job the moon’s well up there too, I’ve got room enough to swing a sledgehammer underneath him without hitting of him. He’s well out of my way. But if they had their way they’d get the moon down you know and they’d be trying to wheel him along the road on two wheels.
Man will invent things to destroy himself. And it’s true.
But what I know other people will never know because I shan’t tell them.
Seminal aphorisms and insightful anecdotes, a glue for this their
apparent nonsensical way of living. A portrait of a fantastical family
at odds with the world and then themselves. Scrap metal, steam driven
The film was my compass for Gallivant and my accomplice for This Filthy Earth it has nurtured me and fed me. Jon Bang Carlsen must have drunk from the same trough, his companion films ‘It’s now or Never’ (1996) and ‘How to Invent Reality’ (1996) contain smidgeons of the same spell binding. Ben Rivers’ ‘This is my land’ (2006) a magnificent pretender and then of course there’s Stalker.
If you go down to the woods today you’ll hardly believe your eyes.
The DVD is now available through www.themoonandthesledgehammer.com and Andrew Kötting’s In the Wake of a Deadad project can be seen at Dilston Grove, Southwark Park, London from October 4th – November 11th www.cafegalleryprojects.org www.deadad.info