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Subscripture: musings on process and meaning

Equi Vocat, or the Dark Horse

Tim Svenonius


A rocking horse of immense size first appeared in a sketchbook in 2010, amid a host of dreamlike pictures for which I had no rational explanation. 

I revisited the motif again in a notebook years later, now with a long shadow extending off the page. Something about that shadow and the crossed boundary felt essential, a key to some meaning I had not yet divined. In the print I aimed to emulate that effect by creating a bounding box—a containment made to be violated.

Countless horses appear in my notebooks, more often emblematically than as living animals: a monument, a chess piece, an insignia, a wheeled effigy. Among these, I feel the rocking horse possesses a particular magic. One of mammoth stature seems especially formidable--as if harboring some secret, like a sphinx.

The title Equi Vocat is a kind of bilingual wordplay: the Latin may mean he calls the horse, or the horse calls; in English it suggests equivocate—evading understanding. Ideally, I want a title to provide something unexpected, and not simply to reinforce what’s already apparent (like calling the print Rocking Horse, for instance). Here I wanted a title that would actively play with an unseen part of the story.