PJ Harvey Explores the Refugee Crisis in Moving Video for ‘The Wheel’
A couple weeks ago, PJ Harvey confirmed the release of her upcoming album The Hope Six Demolition Project. Today (Feb. 1), she has shared a video for the LP’s lead single and penultimate track “The Wheel" (watch above).
The clip was directed by Seamus Murphy, Harvey’s longtime collaborator and a key figure in not only her upcoming album but also the singer’s corresponding book of poetry The Hollow of the Hand. “The Wheel” video includes footage of Harvey recording The Hope Six Demolition Project during her “Recording in Progress” art installation in London. Those images are paired with footage that dates back to Harvey and Murphy’s trip to Kosovo in 2011, a major point of departure for the new album (along with the two artists’ trips to Afghanistan and D.C.). Murphy recounts the experience in a press release:
The song "The Wheel" has the journey to Kosovo at its centre. Who is to say what else has influenced and informed its creation? The sight of a revolving fairground wheel in Fushe Kosove/Kosovo Polje near the capital Pristina is the concrete reference point for the title. I can tell you its date - 4th August 2011- from the piece of footage I made as we walked up the street to our parked car near the train station. It was a passing observation of a commonplace image, one of many that day. While Polly took notes I might have been more interested in something else happening across the street and not bothered to shoot or even have seen it. That day we were gathering material in a blind, optimistic endeavour; characteristic of the way we tend to work together. We had no idea if any of it would ever be seen, heard or would make sense.
Was that sight alone the inspiration for the song? Without being told the stories of people who had suffered during the war, without visiting villages abandoned through ethnic cleansing and cycles of vengeance, without experiencing the different perceptions of people with shared histories, could the song have been written?
Mirroring Harvey's pleas in "The Wheel" (“Hey little children, don’t disappear”), Murphy says the video reflects the ongoing European refugee crisis:
I made a return trip to Kosovo in December 2015, armed this time with the knowledge of how the project had developed... The enormous refugee crisis in Europe had been news for months. I spent some time on the Greek and Macedonian borders, and in Serbia, before travelling into Kosovo. It was happening in and through territories associated with recent conflicts in Kosovo and the wider Balkans. The idea of cycles, wheels and repetition once again being all too apparent and necessary to make.
Harvey has also shared a handful of European tour dates behind her new album. Those can seen at the bottom of the page. The Hope Six Demolition Project is due out April 15 via Vagrant. It follows 2011’s Let England Shake.
PJ Harvey Tour
June 4: Barcelona, Spain - Primavera Sound
June 4-5: Paris, France - We Love Green Festival
June 12: London, UK - Field Day
June 17-18: Helsinki, Finland - Sideways Festival
June 18: Moscow, Russia - Ahmad Tea Music Festival
June 20: Berlin, Germany - Zitadelle Spandau
June 22: Zagreb, Croatia - INMusic
June 24-26: Beuningen, The Netherlands - Down The Rabbit Hole
June 29: Gdynia, Poland - Open’er Festival
June 29-July 02: Roskilde, Denmark - Roskilde Festival
July 2: Werchter, Belgium - Rock Werchter
July 3: Herouville St Clair, France - Beauregard Festival
July 7: Trenčín, Slovakia - Pohoda Festival
July 8: Vienna, Austria - Harvest of Art Festival
Aug. 11: Oslo, Norway - OYA
Aug. 11-13: Gothenburg, Sweden - Way Out West