“So I suppose it turns out that we want to work together”

Now and Then – 30 years of working together and a reenactment of “Board” - the most iconic video by John Wood & Paul Harrison

Now and Then – 30 years of working together and a reenactment of “Board” - the most iconic video by John Wood & Paul Harrison

John Wood & Paul Harrison’s most iconic video “Board” turns 30, and the artists celebrate it with an entirely new 2023 version. The British duo looks back at three decades of collaboration in their own way.

We made ‘Board’ in the summer of 1993. We’d been working together off and on for a couple of years by then, experimenting with live performances and playing around with a camera. We were trying to work out what we wanted to do, what we wanted to make, and I suppose, whether or not we wanted to work together. One day we were in a pub in a small town in Leicestershire. We were on a residency at a public school (for the older readers, it’s the one Stephen Fry was expelled from and for the very older readers, it’s the one that Boris Karloff went to) and we were taking a break.
We had a sketchbook open and were throwing out ideas when we spotted this drawing of a man standing next to a board, well more accurately a disproportionate stick man standing next to a rectangle. It wasn’t a good drawing, but it was quite a good idea, we thought. It was something that seemed to bring together all the bits and pieces we’d been playing around with and gave them some sort of structure, it was a start. It was the start. It took us a couple of weeks to work out the sequence (producing many more disproportionate stick men standing next to rectangles drawings, see drawings), decide on the duration, the shot etc. As part of the residency, we had access to a theatre, so we painted out the stage and a few flats, set up the camera and we were ready to go.

We think Board was about many things: performing; constructing a task so we could move in front of the camera without having to ‘act’ moving in front of the camera. Collaboration, how beautiful casual everyday routines at work can be. Drawing on the screen, the two- dimensional ­drawing transformed into the three dimensions of real space and then back again into the two dimensions of the screen. But maybe more than anything it was a moving diagram of how to work together. Little did we know (actually at the time, we did know little) that this diagram would see us through the next thirty years. So I suppose it turns out that we do want to work together.
(John Wood & Paul Harrison – 2023)

Are you curious? No matter if you are a long-term fan of their work or if you are just discovering it – watch the video below.

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