Two Hanks

David Askevold

2003, 25:30 minutes, colour, English


This piece is about placing two major recording artists on the same stage together after they have been dead for some time. Since Hank Snow and Hank Williams never performed together during their lifetimes this was a way to bring them together with their two songs, Ramblin' Man (by Williams) and I’ve Been Everywhere (by Snow). The thereminist, Scott Marshall, takes the two songs to another place. Footage of the audience, which was built into the construction of the work, constitutes a component of the video.

Two Hanks (2003) is Askevold’s Gesamtkunstwerk of disorientation. Askevold performed the piece, originally an illustration of a concept in the late 1970s, 5 for video in front of an audience in 2003. Part séance and part performance, the ambiguous outcome of detailed planning and organization, it fails to reach the spirits of the “two Hanks” – country-music stars Hank Williams and Hank Snow – although it gives us a rich and eclectic visual spectacle. Fog falling from suspended blocks of dry ice drifts through a darkened room while music by the “two Hanks” plays, calling to them in the beyond. The audience members stare blankly in the dark and are revealed
in the eerie green glow of night-vision video, becoming phantas- magoric participants, halfway between us and the anticipated “Hanks.” A wailing theremin and Askevold’s percussive bass collide with the country music on the audio track, adding another level
of complexity and disorientation. The séance fails; the “Hanks” never appear. At the end of the video, the audience is relieved of the otherworldly atmosphere when the room lights come up, the audience applauds the performance and the performers, and the “disorientation scientist” acknowledges his success to the crowd." - Robert Evans

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Critical Writing

David Askevold: Once Upon a Time in the East
by Jane Affleck. C Magazine, Fall 2013, no. 119.