In a tiny village in central Spain, a farmer moved a mound of cut grass on the back of his tractor. Eclipsing the vehicle, the large load appeared to “walk” on its own, gently wobbling along like a creature from a fairy tale.
A chance encounter with such a scene inspired “Hierba en movimiento” (Moving Grass), an exhibition at Espacio Mínimo by the Basque artist Maider López. In the first of three videos, Hierba en Movimiento, tractor (Moving Grass, tractor, all works cited 2021), we watch a pile of cut grass—the tractor hidden under its bulk—making its way through a grove of oak trees and down the cobbled streets of a small enclave. In Hierba en Movimiento (Moving Grass), and Hierba en Movimiento, cenital (Moving Grass, overhead), the inhabitants of the village and some select outsiders interact with one another while decked out in wearable knee-length haystacks. These “grass-men” shuffle quietly over the fields and along the roads. Their procession—at once sacral, pagan, and playful—recalls those of harvest festivals, agricultural celebrations that provide a respite from work as well as a chance to express gratitude for the earth’s bounty. We observe this scene from two perspectives: one from above, which distances us from the action and thus transforms us into voyeurs, and the other at ground level, so that we easily slip into the midst of the action and become part of this strange parade.
Translated from Spanish by Michele Faguet