For starters, Santogold will be blowing up in iPod near you by the time you finished reading this. Though some may dismiss her as an M.I.A. dilution, I think she’s got every bit the defiance and skill of Ms. Arulpragasam, even if she has a more narrowly niched sense of hip-hop gone global. In this video, I think she plays with a lot of artistic mythology in setting up a persona of wise disconnection and power.
I can’t personally comment on the connection between women and horses, though I do find it interesting that there’s an entire magazine and an apparently vibrant subculture devoted to the subject. I understand why people would be inclined to use them for all the mythical weight they bring to bear. I like that Santogold seems to be reconfiguring the artist in embattled but victorious terms. The positioning in the video suggests military portraiture. In fact, the first thing the opening image evoked for me, was painting of George Washington on horseback, with all the implied mastery of human over nature that comes from a majestic and gorgeous animal holding steady for a regal pose. Of course, the militancy of the video’s image is buttressed by two stiff dancers in the margin whose movements have more in common with martial parades than they do back-up dancing.
I guess I’m a stone cold sucker for images of artistic power, especially those that boldly suggest transcendence or flirt with the supernatural. The song is about the sacrifices people make in order to make art and the tortures of having a private world made public. But throughout the bright and graphic scenes of dismemberment, vomit, and projectile goblin blood, Santogold never breaks a catwalk stride. She emerges from the fog nonplussed. Okay, maybe she should have stopped the stranger playing with the neon Play-Doh intestines, but I’m personally so enthralled by her triumphalism, that I tend to sweep away all the nicking moral niceties.