HARE SCRAMBLE | Project Description
8/20/18 | for VICTORY JOURNAL
Hare Scrambles are off-road motorcycle and quad (four-wheeler) races through woods, streams and fields. The races are loud, dirty tests of endurance and racers are tough and self-reliant. Children grow up with the risks and expectations of the sport as second nature, and start racing themselves as early as age four. Hare Scramble families form a tight community, camping on recently harvested fields and, during races, spreading out over the landscape as pit crews to refuel riders with gasoline and courage. While one might be tempted to attach rural stereotypes and environmental heresy to these races, I aim to complicate our tendency towards political duality with beauty, humor and a sense of recovery.
The photographs in "Hare Scramble" show racers and spectators as figures in a landscape altered by their activity, when the pastoral landscape meets the power of machines and skilled riders. In these pictures, dirt flies in faces, riders crash, and spectators help children out of mud holes. The view is distanced, and images and are often paired to emphasize time, movement and narrative in a similar frame. The video work in "Hare Scramble" is rooted in a still-photograph sensibility; the camera is locked in place as providential narratives unfold through movement and sound within a carefully pre-composed frame.
Hare Scrambles are held primarily in the eastern United States, with similar types of races, such as Enduro, held around the globe. So far, I’ve concentrated on the Western New York Off-Road Association (WNYOA) series of races in Upstate New York, along with the Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) series when they are in New York. Races in the Northeast are usually held on large working farms, with courses built around crop fields and pasture. Hare Scramble course lengths range from a minimum of 1.5 miles to a maximum of 12 miles for adults. Riders complete multiple loops, competing to race the longest distance over a set time, between 45 minutes and 3 hours, depending on age. Women and men race together, and racing is becoming increasingly popular among girls. Several young riders in WNYOA are competitive at the national level, including 13-year-old Jocelyn Barnes, who was the GNCC national champion in her class (Girls 8-15) in 2017.