‘The conversation of the gods!- I didn’t resent or feel aggrieved because I couldn’t understand it. I was the smallest of the planets, and I carried messages between them and I couldn’t always understand that was in order, too; they were something in a foreign language – star talk’
From The Go-Between LP Hartley
Hilary Kneale and Ann Rapstoff create a work for the Frauen Museum in Bonn, Germany. The artists were inspired by L. P. Hartley’s Go-Between, in which a young boy acts as messenger between two lovers. Like the god Mercury, the boy covered his deceit as he supported emerging and illicit love, Mercury covered his tracks by creating hoof tracks travelling in the opposite direction to his own travel. In this version of the Go-Between the artists cover their tracks by wearing shoes with heels upon the toes of their shoes, they carry the bodily fluid of the rivers from here to there and there to here! The rivers were at one time as ‘lovers’, joined in continuous flow at a time when the landmasses were connected and the Thames was a tributary of the Rhine.
Kneale and Rapstoff conjoined the rivers and the cities of Bonn and Oxford, through the actions of collecting, transfer over land and exchange of water between the two rivers. A ‘cross pollination’ of river water took place through ceremonial-like actions as they collected water, undertaking silent walks in the company of others to the rivers to make the exchanges in both cities, the silence transcended difference in language, leaving only traces of memory that formed another dialogue or offered a remembrance.
The Go-Betweens completed their intention by bringing water from the Rhine / Rein back to the Thames in their hometown of Oxford on November 1st 2007. The return journey and mingling of waters of both cities in both cities brought with it a time of reflection about the work, its focus and possibilities for future actions. During the return journey on the train we sat in adjoining seats with two people from England who were peace activists, they had for many years worked in peaceful ways to highlight and make visible alternative possibilities to combat between nations in conflict. For many years they have created simple, peaceful actions that have become a mirror for societies to see themselves and reflect.
As we carried our precious cargo of life giving waters across invisible boundaries separating nations, the subtlety of human difference between the human construct of countries, was all too clear. The rivers of Thames and Rhine / Rein flow over millennia across all borders created by humans, over many obstructions made by nature to find their way to mingle with the salty waters of the sea. All waters mingle with the sea until they once again become mist and cloud and snow and rain and fog, soaking into and through the land and flowing as rivers towards the sea once more.
The Go-Between was included in Umfeld-Inwelt at the Frauen Museum and at the sites of rivers Thames and Rhine.
Catalogue published by Frauen Museum, Bonn, Germany