Flogging a Dead Horse by Paka
Paka was a founding member of "DNTT" and works in a field that uses the
integration of machine art into high quality performance.
Paka can be reached at pakatat at yahoo dot com
You have seen the pictures of the horse. What’s it all about then?
Self publicity is hard; I will try to be as straight as possible. I will take some stuff that has been written for me or about me by others and change it to suit. Still try to read it and make of it what you will. The best thing you can do is vote for me and let the work I produce speak for its self at the festival.
I was born in London in 1963. I spent quite a lot of my early years in and out of hospitals. I was lucky enough to know by 11 that life was uncertain and possibly short. There for it was not, if possible, to be wasted doing things that did not appeal or have no purpose. Age has shown me, that there are always levels of compromise but I still firmly believe one must fight and work hard for the reality of dreams.
I guess what I do is kind of unique. I am an interdisciplinary artist who creates spectacular and engrossing performance from a mix of large-scale mechanical sculpture, digital media, special effects, dramatic characters, circus skills, puppetry, and audience involvement.
The show stuff started from buying an old truck 22 years ago and setting off around Europe with nothing but a very basic grounding in performance skills and a lot of energy. The truck broke down a lot which provided a basic set of mechanical skills.
The sculpture stuff is a spin off from the show work. I still see the challenge as integrating the sculpture into the performance.
Since those early days, I have worked extensively in Europe and the UK both collaborating and producing solo work, in both the underground and the main stream.
I have always lived off the art I have produced, at times eating out of supermarket trash cans when the money was not enough. Through busking on the streets of Europe I gained an apprenticeship in performance art.
I am lucky enough to have got the sort of mind that if I look at a thing for long enough I can sort of figure out how it works.
I have never been educated as an artist or mechanical engineer.
I have performed in European Art Festivals, Streets, Squatted Spaces and even to Royalty. I have never to date succumbed to a day job.
My hybrid art-form has been developed and influenced by circus performers such as Archaos and the edgy, daring and dangerous traditions of European spectacular street theatre and festivals, - traditions which have also spawned contemporary companies such as Mutoid Waste, La Fura dels Baus, Derevo and the infamous DNTT of which I was a founding member and an Artistic Director from 1989 –1997. We (DNTT) were also there as the Wall came down in Berlin building things from the debris of chaos.
I sometimes wonder why I have never managed to make any Money. Funny that! Still perhaps that will come.
In recent years my theatre collective Black Hole has produced works for theatre such as, "The Singularity" and, more recently "Forget Me Not" – both of which have received wide spread critical acclaim in the UK. (see attached UK press quotes)
I have been in London a lot in the last three years as I now have a daughter Elsie (3). Now I think its time we went on tour again.
A few years ago I inherited an electric wheel chair from my 96 year old grandmother. I had witnessed her old age and the wondering of her mind.
I had been reading Cervantes book “Don Quixote” at the time and decided to transform the wheel chair into a horse for the ancient knight to ride upon.
This led to the last 4 years creating Don Quixote themed shows of differing styles and scales, from pyrotechnic spectaculars to theatrical mime.
The horse is a full size (17 hands) robotic horse assembled from assorted machine parts and scrap metal it does about all a real horse does, it moves, turns, reverses, whines, rears, shits and even breathes fire. I have built three of these horses in all (one was sadly stolen.)
The photos of the horse on this Website are the 3rd horse (rusty). He represents one very long, solid year of work. I would like to thank those who have helped me along the way in particular Frank Barnes (a young robot builder working out of Berlin who I am sure you will all hear about one day soon), Bastion Maris and Bart Sabel and Sarah Wright.
I have realised, for a long time, the attraction of kinetic sculpture to a varied cross section of the public. Including those who might not normally be involved with arts activities. With the horses and the planned dogs (coming soon) I tried to maximise this attraction by creating sculptural forms that have had the most prolific and historically long-term relationships with humans. As work partners, companions and also status symbols.
The final realisation of the dream to remotely animate and characterise the horse in the Theatrical show Forget Me Not (FMN), broke new artistic ground for me. It produced a credible theatrical character that is a machine.
In street animation work since FMN Paka has been experimenting with how this newly animated non-organic animal and its barely human rider interact with the post industrial public in a non theatrical environment.
People really seem to warm to it even people who would not normally have the time of day for an art event. I feel this is for a couple of reasons:
Another thing I have found very interesting is an element of fear or apprehension along with the fascination. This perhaps underlines the level to which people find the horse credible but I think it is also worth looking at the way that machine characters have been portrayed in popular media, and contemporary culture. With perhaps the exception of R2 D2 and his mate they get bad press, they are normally involved in violence and destruction or considered a threat to the very existence of humanity.
To see this contradicted by the tender yet cantankerous relationship between Paka and the Horse provides a relief from this ‘normal’ and acceptable level of violence in our contemporary culture.
Fire Horse to the Playa
I have tried to use a mix of skills and mediums to produce an almost parallel
slice of reality. The horse is free ranging and my old man character is credible
and a complete entity. I will bring these two things, and in a ‘Don Quixote style’ see how they
respond to each other and to your selves when placed in the collective
perception of reality that is the Playa. I think I can also promise you a show you will not forget, Images that linger and
a good attitude.
I have tried to use a mix of skills and mediums to produce an almost parallel slice of reality. The horse is free ranging and my old man character is credible and a complete entity.
I will bring these two things, and in a ‘Don Quixote style’ see how they respond to each other and to your selves when placed in the collective perception of reality that is the Playa.
I think I can also promise you a show you will not forget, Images that linger and a good attitude.
Recent Quotes from UK National Press
Guardian Review Jan 2004
Animations On Line magazine Jan 2004
Total Theatre Magazine Jan 2004
What’s On Magazine Jan 2004 *****
'He works his audience from disgust to delight, combining enchanting vulnerability with completely revolting behaviour. He is eternally watch-able...'
‘Paka whose set up for his spiffing slack rope act was the most bizarre that anyone could hope
‘Paka knows how to play a full house with an awesome easiness.’
‘Black Hole has produced a remarkable, innovative piece of theatre and Paka is certainly an artist to look out for in the future.’
‘If any clown can lure you down to south east London, this is he.’
‘Paka and the Black Hole Theatre Company stands firmly in the tradition of futuristic performance artistry… The production is uniformly stunning; the aesthetic eccentric and inspiring.’