Walk On From Richard Long to Janet Cardiff â€” 40 Years of Art Walking
Art Editions North ————————————————————————————— First published in 2013 by Art Editions North Art Editions North is an imprint of the University of Sunderland Co-produced with Art Circuit Touring Exhibitions and Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art
————————————————————————————— This catalogue © Cynthia Morrison-Bell, Mike Collier, Tim Ingold and Alistair Robinson 2013 Individual works © the Artists, contributors and photographers 2013 (unless otherwise stated)
————————————————————————————— Production by Cynthia Morrison-Bell for Art Circuit Touring Exhibitions and W.A.L.K. (University of Sunderland) Edited by Mike Collier and Cynthia Morrison-Bell with assistance from Janet Ross Design and installation shots by George Benson, Stereographic Cover image: Richard Wentworth, Untitled, 2009, Walking Sticks. 53rd Venice Biennale © Quintin Lake Photography
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FOREWORD by Cynthia Morrison-Bell
THE MAZE AND THE LABYRINTH: WALKING AND THE EDUCATION OF ATTENTION by Tim Ingold
ON WALKING by Alistair Robinson
ARTISTS Marina Abramovic Francis Alÿs Joe Bateman Atul Bhalla Tim Brennan Brendan Stuart Burns Sophie Calle Janet Cardiff Rachael Clewlow Mike Collier Sarah Cullen Bradley Davies Chris Drury Alec Finlay Hamish Fulton Tracy Hanna Dan Holdsworth James Hugonin
ON WAYS OF WALKING AND MAKING ART: A PERSONAL REFLECTION by Mike Collier
ARTISTS 24 28 32 34 36 38 40 42 46 48 52 54 56 58 60 66 68 70
Tim Knowles Richard Long Melanie Manchot Pat Naldi & Wendy Kirkup Bruce Nauman Julian Opie plan b Ingrid Pollard Simon Pope Rachel Reupke Tim Robinson Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir & Mark Wilson Brian Thompson walkwalkwalk Richard Wentworth Jeremy Wood Wrights & Sites Catherine Yass Carey Young
86 88 92 94 96 98 100 102 104 106 108 110 112 116 118 120 122 124 126
Over the years and inspired by a number of artworks and exhibitions by ‘walking’ artists, I have come to realise that there is much more to walking than my daily forays in the city or my Sunday outings in the country. Lodged in my memory was Bruce Nauman’s enigmatic video works from the 1960s in which the artist filmed himself in his studio performing banal and repetitious tasks: ‘Walking in an Exaggerated Manner Around The Perimeter of a Square ‘ (1969) was one of these, which I had seen in my student days and had made a big impression on me. Very little description of the work is required: the title describes the action, exactly. The materials are simple – time, space and the body, the artist’s own. What else is needed to make art? For Nauman making art is necessary, using whatever medium is at hand, with the meaning of the work left open-ended for us to understand or interpret, whether it be hilarious, absurd, or existential … Of course, the body was an important point of departure for much art of the 1960s and 70s. Performance art – using the body as the tool and medium, as sculpture even, making it endure the limits of the language of art, testing it to its extremes, just as you would any material, to find out how much you could mould it, push it, twist or break it. Very few artists have used their bodies in the way that the extraordinary doyenne of performance art, Marina Abramovic, has throughout her career. ‘The Lovers, Great Wall of China, 1988’ was an epic 3,700 mile walking journey which the artist undertook with her long-term collaborator Ulay. It was also sadly to be their last. They began at opposite ends of the wall, and walked through perilous and unknown terrain towards each other until they met and reunited; walking as a symbolic gesture, as endurance, as pure physicality. And Abramovic says that, for her, it is the physicality of making art, the way of overcoming the pain, the repetition or danger, that focuses the mind, allowing for another level of consciousness. In their different ways, three recent exhibitions have been instrumental in making me think about walking as art: Richard Long’s heavenly
‘Heaven and Earth ‘ at Tate Britain in 2009, Francis Alÿs’s ‘Story of Deception’ at Tate Modern in 2010, and Hamish Fulton’s ‘Walk’ at Turner Contemporary in Margate in 2012. Then there have been the ‘art walks’ themselves. In 2001, I went on Janet Cardiff’s walk, ‘The Missing Voice’ (Case Study B), a mysterious part-walking tour, part historical account of London’s East End. I also participated in one of Hamish Fulton’s memorable group ‘slow’ walks on a bitterly cold day in an open-air car park on the Quayside in Newcastle, which was a turning point in my understanding of art and where art actually exists; and art can reside in an open-air car park on the Quayside in Newcastle on a bitterly cold day. The thing is, it takes an artist to make you see it. There is of course a longstanding relationship between walking, writing and thinking. William Wordsworth‘s early poetry was inspired by his meanderings in the Lake District; Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s daily walks prompted his Reveries of a Solitary Walker; and Charles Darwin created a circuitous ‘sand-walk’ path around the perimeter of his home at Down House to ensure uninterrupted thinking time. As the contemporary writer Robert Macfarlane suggests in his wonderful book, The Old Ways, walking is about more than just the destination and that “the voyage out is always a voyage inwards”. Artists ‘walk’ in a multitude of ways and different settings. Some trace their daily movements, sometimes aided by GPS devices, and others narrate, record, follow, photograph, make, paint, draw, drift, walk, guided by the wind or navigating in the dark; all devising extraordinary ways to record, annotate and translate their walks into art objects or experiences. Some, like Marina Abramovic, Richard Long or Chris Drury, map out epic journeys, whilst others such as Richard Wentworth collect found objects from daily walks and pair them into photographs creating a portrait of place – its stories and its histories combined. These works, along with Wentworth’s walking stick installation ‘Thus’ (2009) take you for a walk, in the imagination. In ‘Summer’ (2012), Julian
Cynthia Morrison-Bell Co-curator, ‘Walk On’ Director, Art Circuit Touring Exhibitions
Opie’s wonderful continuous computer animation with sound, the pavements of Wentworth’s work are replaced by virtual pastoral hills in a circular, endless landscape that transports you along country lanes into a rural idyll devoid of people and filled with music. This exhibition is not, however, a survey show. What lies behind it is the question of what leads an artist to turn his or her footsteps into art. By presenting this selection of works in such different media, form and content, we hope it may encourage other shows and investigations. Given the growing number of walking artists’ networks as well as art walking events and festivals, such as the recent Sideways festival in Belgium last summer, we feel sure this will undoubtedly be the case. ‘Walk On’’s intention from the start was to look at works since the late 1960s, as well as works by emerging artists, and bring these together in a single exhibition; for their paths to cross, so to speak, and for the viewer to experience, look or feel how an artist’s walk could also possibly become the viewer’s own, leading him or her to hitherto unknown places. For all this, and more, first and foremost in the long list of people to whom we owe heartfelt thanks for helping make this exhibition possible are the artists who have participated in this exhibition with such unbelievable generosity, support and enthusiasm. I would also particularly like to thank Janet Ross for making this project a collaborative one and for suggesting working with Dr Mike Collier and Alistair Robinson, our partners and co-curators on this project. We have worked very closely together, sharing knowledge, workload and resources, so that ‘Walk On’ is the realisation of a shared vision and common passion. It has been a privilege to work with them and their respective organisations, VARC, W.A.L.K. (Walking, Art, Landskip and Knowledge) research centre at the University of Sunderland and Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art, to whom I extend my thanks and gratitude.
At the time of going to print, ‘Walk On’ will tour to five UK cities. I am therefore grateful to Janet Ross for suggesting that ‘Walk On’ also becomes a participatory public event in rural Northumberland in July 2013, and to VARC and the Rural Development Programme for England through the Northumberland Uplands’ LEADER programme financially supporting the commissioning of five new art walks for the occasion. I would also like to thank the Northumberland National Park Authority for their support. The ‘Walk On’ exhibition and event will be part of the ‘Festival of the North East’ in the summer of 2013 and we are very grateful to our satellite venues, including Berwick Gymnasium, The National Trust, Wallington, Kielder Art & Architecture and Allenheads Contemporary Art who will each be hosting an art walking work, performance or project, and for making this a truly region-wide event (within a national and international context) in both urban and rural areas. Thank you also to Arts Council England, the Northumberland Uplands Local Action Group and VARC for their generous financial support and backing, without which this exhibition would have gathered dust on a shelf sadly called ‘Unrealised Projects’. My thanks to all our touring venues without which the exhibition might have ended on another shelf equally sadly called ‘Nowhere to Go’ … In particular, thank you to Carole Swords and Vanessa Moore at Pitzhanger Gallery & House, Kate Johnson and Judith Robinson at Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery, Craig Ashley at mac Birmingham and Stephen Whittle at The Atkinson, Southport. It is thanks to their imagination, support and belief that the exhibition is touring the country and reaching so many audiences across the UK. I also thank all their staff for ensuring the installation, safety and wellbeing of the works whilst in their care. I would like to thank all our lenders, Tate, the Arts Council Collection, Artangel, the Sean Kelly Gallery New York, The Lisson Gallery, London, Julian Opie Studio, The Ingelby Gallery, Atul Bhalla, sepiaEYE New York, and the Vaderhra Art Gallery New Delhi, Hamish Fulton and Maureen Payley, London.
A very special and warm thankyou in particular to Eleanor Nairne at Artangel whose support and work behind the scenes have made the impossible possible; to Sidney Russell at Marina Abramovic’s studio for his kindness in dealing with my endless queries; to Zev at Cardiff Miller studio for his support and collaboration; to Ben Tufnell at Haunch of Venison, Monica Jamieson at Julian Opie studio, Rute Ventura and Sam Chatterton-Dixon at the Lisson Gallery for liaising with the artists, to Esa Epstein at sepiaEYE, Monika McConnell at Arts Council Collection, Leo Amery, and Robert Macfarlane for his inspiration and kind words about the project. Thank you to Professor Tim Ingold, Dr Mike Collier and Alistair Robinson for their invaluable texts and huge contributions to the catalogue, informing the subject of walking as well as walking as art and to W.A.L.K. and the University of Sunderland for their financial support towards it. Also to Janet Ross, Frances Arnold, Quintin Lake Photography and a big thankyou to George Benson at Stereographic for his splendid design work. I would like to thank my assistant Claire Ponthieu for her dedication and hard work in all aspects of this project, and for keeping her calm and sense of humour during occasional fraught moments; my colleague Anthony Key whose support I always value; and Art Circuit Touring Exhibitions’ board of directors, Chris Vermont, Anne de Charmant, Julia Randell-Khan and William Morrison-Bell, for their help and support to me and to the organisation as a whole.
Biographical note Cynthia Morrison-Bell worked in picture conservation for over a decade before turning her attention to exhibition organising. She studied Art History and Cultural Theory at Goldsmiths’ College, University of London, and joined Art Circuit as an assistant in 1996. In 2000, she became director and transformed Art Circuit Touring Exhibitions into a not-for-profit organisation committed to the dissemination of contemporary art and culture to areas sometimes less well served. Art Circuit Touring Exhibitions have toured to over thirty museums and publicly funded galleries, showing the most internationally renowned artists alongside younger and emerging artists.
Installation shot: Walk On, PM Gallery & House, March 2013 Featuring works by (from left to right): Left page: Hamish Fulton, Atul Bhalla. Right page: walkwalkwalk, Rachael Clewlow, Richard Wentworth.
THE MAZE AND THE LABYRINTH: WALKING AND THE EDUCATION OF ATTENTION
I In his recent book, At the Loch of the Green Corrie, the poet Andrew Greig speaks thus of his friend and mentor, Norman MacCaig. His eye and heart were drawn to animals, says Greig, yet he was not particularly knowledgeable about them. “He could name the commonest birds and that was about it. I think he didn’t want to know more, believing that knowledge of their Latin names, habitat, feeding and mating patterns, moulting season would obscure their reality. Sometimes the more you know the less you see. What you encounter is your knowledge, not the thing itself”.1
out for a walk. What kind of education is this, which one obtains by walking? And what is it about walking that makes it such an effective practice for education in this sense?
In this, I think, Greig has touched on something quite profound, which goes to the heart of the meaning and purpose of what we call education. Does knowledge actually lead to wisdom? Does it open our eyes and ears to the truth of what is there? Or does it rather hold us captive within a compendium of our own making, like a hall of mirrors that blinds us to its beyond? Might we see more, experience more, and understand more, by knowing less? And might it be because we know too much that we seem so incapable of attending to what is going on around us and of responding with care, judgement and sensitivity? Which of them is wiser, the ornithologist or the poet – the one who knows the name of every kind of bird but has them ready sorted in his head; the other who knows no names but looks with wonder, astonishment and perplexity on everything he sees?
II There are many ways of walking, and not all of them lead out. One way that does not, which you may recall from childhood, is the ‘crocodile’. It is what teachers use for getting a class without mishap from one point to another. Children are expected to walk two abreast, in a neat line. If they pay attention to their surroundings at all, it is in the interests of safety, to avoid collision with traffic or passers-by. The path of the crocodile, however, is not a way of learning; this happens only at its destination, where once again the teacher stands before the class and addresses them. But when these same children – be they accompanied by a parent or guardian, with friends, or on their own – make their ways from home to school and back, they will walk quite differently. Now hurrying, now dawdling, alternately skipping and plodding, the child’s attention is caught – or, in the view of an accompanying adult, distracted – by everything from the play of light and shadow to the flight of birds and the barking of dogs, to the scent of flowers, to puddles and fallen leaves, and to myriad trifles from snails to conkers and from dropped coins to tell-tale litter. It is these trifles that make the street a place of such absorbing interest to the miniature detective whose eyes remain close to the ground.3
I want to suggest that these alternatives correspond to two quite different senses of education.2 The first is familiar enough to all of us who have sat in a school classroom, as pupils, or who have stood up before the class to teach. This is the sense of the Latin verb educare, meaning to rear or to bring up, to instil a pattern of approved conduct and the knowledge that supports it. A variant etymology, however, traces the word to educere, from ex (out) + ducere (to lead). In this sense, education is a matter of leading novices out into the world rather than – as it is conventionally taken to be today – instilling knowledge in to their minds. It is, quite literally, to invite the learner
For the child on his way to school, the street is a labyrinth. Like the scribe, copyist or draughtsman whose eyes are in his fingertips, the child follows its twists and turns, ever curious, but with no commanding view and no glimpse of an end. The challenge is not to lose the trail, and for that he needs to keep his wits about him. Walter Benjamin, fondly recalling his childhood days in Berlin around the turn of the twentieth century, vividly describes the Ariadne’s thread that he would follow in and around the Tiergarten, with its bridges, flowerbeds, the pedestals of statues (which being closer to the eye, held greater interest than the figures mounted on them),
Andrew Greig, At the Loch of the Green Corrie, London: Quercus, 2010, p.88.
On this distinction, Maurice Craft, “Education for diversity”, in Education and Cultural Pluralism, ed. Maurice Craft, Philadelphia, PA: Falmer Press, 1984, 5–26.
See Tim Ingold and Jo Lee Vergunst, ‘Introduction’, in Ways of Walking: Ethnography and Practice on Foot, Tim Ingold and Jo Lee Vergunst (eds), Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008, 1–19, p.4.
and kiosks hidden in among the bushes. Here, says Benjamin, he first experienced what he only later found the word for: love.4 But growing up, one learns to banish such childish follies. The crocodile devours the detective as discipline eats up curiosity. To recover what is lost, one has to go beyond the city, to take a walk in woods, fields or mountains governed by forces as yet untrained. For the adult, Benjamin remarks, it takes some effort to apprehend the city streets once again with the same acuity as a path in the countryside. To achieve this – to regain the labyrinth and lose oneself in it – “street names must speak to the urban wanderer like the snapping of dry twigs, and little streets in the heart of the city must reflect the times of day ... as clearly as a mountain valley”. This art, Benjamin admits, is one that having been lost in childhood, he acquired again only late in life.5 III For most of us, disciplined by education and going about our business in the city, the streets are not a labyrinth. We walk them not for what they reveal along the way but because they afford transit from one point of call to another. We may still get lost in them, but that loss is experienced not as a discovery on the way to nowhere but as a setback in the achievement of a predetermined goal. We mean to get from here to there, and are frustrated by wrong turns and cul-desacs. For the urban shopper or commuter, then, the streets are not so much a labyrinth as a maze. Technically, the maze differs from the labyrinth in that it offers not one path but multiple choices, of which each may be freely made but most lead to dead ends.6 It also differs, however, in that its avenues are demarcated by barriers which obstruct any view other than the way immediately ahead. The maze, then, does not open up to the world, as the labyrinth does. On the contrary, it encloses, trapping its inmates within the false antinomy of freedom and necessity.
by walls or high buildings. Once set on a particular thoroughfare they have no alternative but to continue along it, since it is walled in on either side. These walls, however, are not usually bare. Rather, they are replete with advertisements, window displays and the like, which inform pedestrians of possible side-tracks they might choose to take, as and when the opportunity arises, to satisfy their desires. Every time there is a fork in the way, a decision has to be taken: to go to the left, to the right, or possibly straight ahead. A journey through the maze may thus be represented as a stochastic sequence of moves punctuated by decision-points, such that every move is predicated upon the preceding decision. It is essentially a game-like, strategic enterprise. This is not to deny the tactical manoeuvring that goes on as pedestrians and even drivers jostle with one another in making their way through the throng of a busy street or subway. But negotiating a passage through the throng is one thing, finding a way through the maze quite another.7
Whether over or underground, whether navigating the streets or the metro, urban pedestrians have to negotiate a maze of passages flanked
In walking the labyrinth, by contrast, choice is not an issue. The path leads, and the walker is under an imperative to go where it takes him. But the path is not always easy to follow. Like the hunter tracking an animal or a hiker on the trail, it is important to keep an eye out for the subtle signs – footprints, piles of stones, nicks cut in the trunks of trees – that indicate the way ahead. Thus signs keep you on the path; they do not, like advertisements, tempt you away from it. The danger lies not in coming to a dead end, but in wandering off the track. Death is a deviation, not the end of the line. At no point in the labyrinth do you come to an abrupt stop. No buffers, or walls, block your onward movement. You are, rather, fated to carry on nevertheless, along a path that, if you are not careful, may take you ever further from the living, to whose community you may never make it back. In the labyrinth you may indeed take a wrong turn, but not by choice. For at the time, you did not notice that the path divided. You were sleepwalking, or dreaming. Indigenous hunters often tell of those who, lured on by the prey they are following, drift into the prey’s world, in which the animals appear to them as human. There they carry on their lives while lost, presumed dead, to their own people.
Walter Benjamin, Berlin Childhood Around 1900 (trans. Howard Eiland), Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006, p.54.
Hermann Kern, Labyrinthe, München: Prestel, 1982, p.13.
On the distinction between strategic navigation and tactical manoeuvring, see Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (trans. Steven Rendall), Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1984, p.xviii.
IV The maze puts all the emphasis on the traveller’s intentions. He has an aim in mind, a projected destination or horizon of expectations, a perspective to obtain, and is determined to reach it. This overarching aim may, of course, be broken down into a number of subsidiary objectives. And it may also be complicated by all the other, competing aims that assail him from all sides. Choices are never clear-cut, and are rarely taken with sufficient information as not to leave a considerable margin of uncertainty. Nevertheless, in the maze, the outward cast of action follows the inward cast of thought. When we say that action is intentional, we mean that a mind is at work, operating from within the actor, and lending it a purpose and direction beyond what the physical laws of motion would alone dictate. Intentions distinguish the travellers in a maze from the balls in a game of bagatelle which – we suppose – have no idea of where they are heading and are quite incapable of deliberating whether to go in one way or another. In the maze, intention is cause and action effect. Yet the intentional traveller, wrapped up in the space of his own deliberations, is, by the same token, absent from the world itself. He must perforce decide which way to go, but having resolved upon a course, has no further need to look where he is going. In the labyrinth, by contrast, the path-follower has no objective save to carry on, to keep on going. But to do so, his action must be closely and continually coupled with his perception – that is, by an evervigilant monitoring of the path as it unfolds. Simply put, you have to watch your step, and to listen and feel as well. Path-following, in short, is not so much intentional as attentional. It draws the follower out into presence of the real. As intention is to attention, therefore, so absence is to presence. This is also the difference between wayfaring and navigation.8 Of course there is a mind at work in the attentional wayfaring of the labyrinth, just as there is in the intentional navigation of the maze. But this is a mind immanent in the movement itself rather than an originating source to which such movement may be attributed as an effect.
V Now between the navigation of the maze and the wayfaring of the labyrinth lies all the difference between the two senses of education with which I began: on the one hand the induction (drawing in) of the learner into the rules and representations, or the ‘intentional worlds’, of a culture; on the other the ex-duction (drawing out) of the learner into the world itself, as it is given to experience. There is of course nothing new or radical in the suggestion that knowledge is relative to its cultural milieu. That every world is but a view of the world, and that these perspectives or interpretations are multiple and possibly conflicting, has become virtually the default position in the modern, or even post-modern, philosophy of education. Students are more than familiar with the idea that knowledge consists of representations, and they are savvy enough to realise that representations are not to be confused with the ‘real thing’. This, as the philosopher of education Jan Masschelein observes, is not where the problem lies. It lies rather in the way that a world that can be known only in its representations, in a plethora of images, slips from us in the very move by which we try to hold it in our sights. Our grasp of things is one that always leaves us empty-handed, clutching at reflections. We can no longer open to the world, nor it to us. “How”, Masschelein asks, “can we turn the world into something ‘real’, how to make the world ‘present’, to give again the real and discard the shields or mirrors that seem to have locked us up increasingly into self-reflections and interpretations, into endless returns upon ‘standpoints’, ‘perspectives’ and ‘opinions’?” How, in short, can we escape the maze? Masschelein’s answer is, quite literally, “through exposure”.9 And this is precisely what is achieved by education in the sense of ex-duction – that is, by walking the labyrinth. Education in this sense has nothing to do with such routine objectives as ‘gaining a critical distance’ or ‘taking up a perspective’ on things. It is not about arriving at a point of view. In the labyrinth there is no point of arrival, no final destination, for every place is already on the way to somewhere else. Far from taking up a standpoint
On this distinction, see Tim Ingold, Lines: A Brief History, Abingdon: Routledge, 2007, pp.15–16.
Jan Masschelein, “The idea of critical e-ducational research – e-ducating the gaze and inviting to go walking”, in The Possibility/Impossibility of a New Critical Language of Education, ed. Ilan Gur-Ze’ev, Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2010, 275–291, p.276.
or perspective from this position or that, walking continually pulls us away from any standpoint – from any position we might adopt. “Walking”, as Masschelein explains, “is about putting this position at stake; it is about ex-position, about being out-of-position”.10 This is what he means by exposure. It is not that exposure affords a different perspective or set of perspectives, for example from ground level, different from what might be gained from higher up, or from the air. Indeed, it does not disclose the world from any perspective at all. The walker’s attention comes not from having arrived at a position but from being pulled away from it, from displacement. VI At first glance this conclusion seems remarkably close to that reached by the psychologist James Gibson. Pioneering his ecological approach to visual perception, Gibson had proposed that we do not perceive our surroundings from a series of fixed points; nor, he argued, is it the task of the mind to assemble, in memory, the partial perspectives obtained from each point into a comprehensive picture of the whole. Rather, perception proceeds along what he called a path of observation. As the observer goes on his way, the pattern in the light reaching the eyes from reflecting surfaces in the environment (that is, the ‘optic array’) undergoes continual modulation, and, from the underlying invariants of this modulation, things disclose themselves for what they are. Or more precisely they disclose what they afford, in so far as they help or hinder the observer to keep going, or to carry on along a certain line of activity. The more practised we become in walking these paths of observation, according to Gibson, the better able we are to notice and to respond fluently to salient aspects of our environment. That is to say, we undergo an “education of attention”.11 Despite the superficial similarity, however, the education to which the walker lays himself open through exposure, according to Masschelein, is quite the reverse of what Gibson had in mind. It is not a matter of picking up, and turning to one’s advantage, the affordances of a world that is already laid out. Recall that the verb attendre, in French, means ‘to wait’, and that even in English, to
attend to things or persons carries connotations of looking after them, doing their bidding and following what they do. In this regard, attention abides with a world that is not ready-made but always incipient, on the cusp of continual emergence. In short, whereas for Gibson, the world waits for the observer, for Masschelein the walker waits upon the world. As the path beckons, the walker submits, and is at the mercy of what transpires. To walk, as Masschelein puts it, is to be commanded by what is not yet given but on the way to being given.12 The philosopher Henri Bortoft, in his advocacy of the principles of Goethean science, makes much the same point through a clever reversal of the phrase “it appears”. In the conventional and grammatically correct order of words, “it” comes before “appears”: the thing exists prior to its disclosure, ready and waiting to be perceived by the moving observer, whose attention is attuned to what it affords. In walking the labyrinth, however, attention is moved upstream, to the “appearing of what appears”. One is attending – waiting – for “it” to emerge. The appearing of a thing is tantamount to its emergence, and to witness the appearance is to be present at its birth. To say “appears it”, Bortoft comments, “may be bad grammar but it is better philosophically” since it gets around the conundrum that otherwise leads us to suppose that things exist prior to the processes that give rise to them.13 VII The walker in the labyrinth, having no goal, no end in sight, always waiting, ever present, exposed yet astonished by the world through which she fares, has nothing to learn and nothing to teach. Her itinerary is a way of life, yet it is a way without content to transmit. There is no body of knowledge to be passed on. And because there is nothing to pass on, there are no methods for doing so. Thus between the conventional definition of education as instilling knowledge and the sense of education that we have explored here, as a leading out into the world, lies the difference between rich methodology and what Masschelein calls “poor pedagogy”.14
Jan Masschelein, “E-ducating the gaze: the idea of a poor pedagogy”, Ethics and Education 5(1), 43–53, 2010, p.46.
James J. Gibson, The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1979, p.254; see also Tim Ingold, The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill, London: Routledge, 2000, p.167.
Henri Bortoft, Taking Appearance Seriously, Edinburgh: Floris Books, 2012, pp.95–96.
Jan Masschelein, “E-ducating the gaze: the idea of a poor pedagogy”, p.49.
I think – though he does not say so explicitly – that Masschelein deplores the notion of methodology, and so do I. For in its deployment it turns means into ends, divorcing knowledge-as-content from ways of coming to know, and thereby enforcing a kind of closure that is the very antithesis of the opening up to the present which a poor pedagogy offers. At the crocodile’s end, the teacher turns to face her students and, looking back, articulates a perspective from its final vantage point. Perhaps, already prior to setting out, she will have jumped ahead in her imagination and described what is to be expected. Hers is indeed a rich methodology. It is a methodology, however, that sets a block on movement. Face-to-face, there’s no way forward. Knowledge flies from head to head, but the heads themselves – and the bodies to which the heads belong – are fixed in place. To walk on is not to face and be addressed by those who stand in front but to follow those who have their backs to you. The farer in the labyrinth, abiding with the world and answering to its summons, following on where others went before, can keep on going, without beginning or end, pushing out into the flux of things. He is, as Masschelein would say, truly present in the present. The price of such presence is vulnerability, but its reward is an understanding, founded on immediate experience, that goes beyond knowledge. It is an understanding on the way to truth. For as Greig says of the poet: knowing little of the world, he sees the things themselves.
References Benjamin, W. 2006. Berlin Childhood Around 1900 (trans. H. Eiland). Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Bortoft, H. 2012. Taking Appearance Seriously. Edinburgh: Floris Books. Certeau, M. de 1984. The Practice of Everyday Life (trans. S. Rendall). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Craft, M. 1984. “Education for diversity”, in Education and Cultural Pluralism, M. Craft (ed.), pp.5–26. Philadelphia, PA: Falmer Press. Gibson, J. J. 1979. The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Greig, A. 2010. At the Loch of the Green Corrie. London: Quercus. Ingold, T. 2000. The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. London: Routledge. Ingold, T. 2007. Lines: A Brief History. Abingdon: Routledge. Ingold, T. & J. Lee Vergunst 2008. “Introduction”. In Ways of Walking: Ethnography and Practice on Foot, T. Ingold and J. Lee Vergunst (eds), pp.1–19. Aldershot: Ashgate. Kern, H. 1982. Labyrinthe. München: Prestel. Masschelein, J. 2010a. “The idea of critical e-ducational research – e-ducating the gaze and inviting to go walking”. In The Possibility/ Impossibility of a New Critical Language of Education, I. Gur-Ze’ev (ed.), pp.275–291. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Masschelein, J. 2010b. ‘E-ducating the gaze: the idea of a poor pedagogy’. Ethics and Education 5(1): 43–53.
Biographical note Tim Ingold is Professor and Chair of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen. He has carried out ethnographic fieldwork among Saami and Finnish people in Lapland, and has written on comparative questions of environment, technology and social organisation in the circumpolar North, on the role of animals in human society, and on human ecology and evolutionary theory in anthropology, biology and history. More recently, he has explored the links between environmental perception and skilled practice. Ingold is currently writing and teaching on issues on the interface between anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture. His latest book, Making, was published in March 2013.
Installation shot: Walk On, PM Gallery & House, March 2013 Featuring works by: Left page: Hamish Fulton, Tim Knowles. In foreground: Brian Thompson. Right page: Mike Collier, Chris Drury, Jeremy Wood. On floor: Tracy Hanna.
‘Walk On’ attempts to gently challenge the orthodox distinctions through which artists’ work created by walking has been understood. The selection of work here includes both well-established figures who have pursued their entire careers through walking and figures that might seem surprising inclusions. In the genesis of this exhibition, we have considered both the longer history of walking as a means of inducing thought and of storytelling and the more recent history of artists’ explicit adaption of walking as a mode of art production. The literature about both subjects has expanded considerably in recent years. The latter, in particular, has been the subject of a number of exhibitions in the last decade. These have explored some of the territory that ‘Walk On’ covers, but have taken partial views. The predecessors to this show range from Bruce Ferguson’s ‘Walking Thinking Walking’ at the Louisiana Museum in 1996 to Stuart Horodner’s ‘Walk Ways’ of 2002. The remit of ‘Walk Ways’ was an examination of the “agency of pedestrianism in the realm of civic creativity”, which we might paraphrase as urban games undertaken through walking. ‘Walk On’ includes artists who have made work in the city and country. More importantly, it challenges the binary thinking that defines those categories as separable. Accordingly, the show puts forward playful and contrary points of views. The exhibition proposes, instead, that there is an almost unlimited range of ways in which artists have used walking as the pretext for new forms of art production, or new forms of relationship between artist and viewer. The roles that artists ask us to adopt in response to their works include instigating new forms of political participation, imagining ourselves in a future after the end of civilization, and seeing ourselves as though we were in a panoptican overseeing the city. ‘Walk On’ asks us to think again about what the possible purposes of undertaking a walk as an artwork could yet be and what walking can achieve poetically and politically. Accordingly, we should begin by considering what the most commonly imagined uses have been, in order to measure how far some artists have travelled away from it in order to find their own roles. There is, perhaps, one particularly
well-worn story or established chain of associations between artists and thinkers and walking. This set of associations has been circulated from at least the eighteenth century onwards. As is well known, several Romantic thinkers and writers from Rousseau to Wordsworth valorised walking as an activity, describing it as offering almost limitless rewards. The business of walking, for subsequent Romantics, has often lain in the idea that it provides the opportunity to immerse oneself in open space, whilst simultaneously allowing access to one’s truest or best self. The narrative here is that walking allows one to become an infinitely receptive being, or else opens the channels to one’s deepest imaginative resources. In other words, the act of moving through space allows the walker to occupy a distinct or special mental space in which habits of mind can be cast off or refreshed or else be exposed to new stimuli that sharpen their perceptions. Jean-Jacques Rousseau is often thought of as the central culprit in this story, arguing that walking away from one’s fellow man and into the ‘natural world’ was to begin to open one’s senses, and to become truly alive: “Never did I think so much, exist so vividly and experience so much as in the journeys I have taken alone and on foot. There is something about walking which stimulates and enlivens my thoughts.” 1 Even Rebecca Solnit, in her monumental and much-quoted Wanderlust: A History of Walking, repeats the image: “A solitary walker is in the world, but apart from it, with the detachment of the traveller rather than the ties of the worker, the dweller, the member of a group.” 2 She has also repeated the idea of walking as a fundamentally redemptive activity – where ‘landscape’ is both a refuge and a promise of freedom: “One of the functions of landscape is to correspond to, nurture, and provoke exploration of the landscape of the imagination. Space to walk is also space to think.” 3 To expand on this narrative, we might say that in wide open spaces, the walker can feel a kinship with the infinite number of species of flora and fauna that have been banished from the man-made
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Confessions, 1782, quoted in Ian Thompson, The English Lakes: A History, London: Bloomsbury, 2010, p.83.
Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking, London: Penguin, 2001, p.21.
Rebecca Solnit, Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2008, p 48
world of the city, or which surround us unnoticed. One variant of the story is that walking allows us to develop an almost pantheistic state of mind in which all things are equal. The walker’s powers of observation, being heightened, secure for them both knowledge and pleasure. A second variant is that by setting one’s body the task of undertaking a mundane activity that can be achieved almost unconsciously, one’s imagination and higher faculties are given licence to flourish. Rousseauesque or Wordsworthian logics suggest that we can pursue natural history and speculative philosophy without distraction. In a third variant, walking is similarly a process of giving oneself licence to undertake speculative and imaginative thought about one’s own place in the world. The terms used to describe the walker and the landscape are not dissimilar to those used to describe the psychoanalyst and their analysand. The walker’s mental activity, freed from the self-interested activity that urban life entails, turns either towards free association or disinterested thought. In all three scenarios, walking enables either an intensity of observation, or a kind of daytime dreaming or introspection that cannot be undertaken when one is occupied in ordinary or ‘productive’ activities. Such stories have endured for solid reasons. Put simply, walking (even in a straight line) prevents us from thinking in straight lines. In the post-Romantic world, the walker is the figure who exchanges the vita activa for the vita contemplative on our behalf (to use the classical terms adapted by Hannah Arendt). The walker does the hard work of thinking and judging, in distinction to working or acting upon the political or social world directly. ‘Walk On’ reappraises this dominant story while introducing new ones. We certainly view the most prevalent clichés about the figure of the walker as stories to be retold with great scepticism and curiosity, at best. Undoubtedly, there are several contemporary figures for whom the humanistic positions outlined above retain their original power, but ‘Walk On’ adopts a critical or even quizzical stance towards such projects. The search for a physical or a psychological place where solace or redemption can be guaranteed characterises the work of
artists like Joe Bateman, albeit in an unpredictable way. Bateman’s role is to be a highly unreliable narrator of his own work. His project inverts the usual meanings associated with Philip Larkin’s memorable line “elsewhere underwrites my existence”. ‘Elsewhere’ in Bateman’s work is located in time, rather than in space. His works are set in ordinary places such as East Yorkshire, which are transfigured into both ultra-banal non-places and mystical landscapes. Bateman shows us the world without us: an alarming prospect, rather than a consolatory one. The quest to recover a sense of wholeness and oneness with ‘nature’, experienced through the state of solitariness found in farflung places is placed into question by several of the artists here. Hamish Fulton is one artist who exemplifies this tendency, contrary to superficial readings of his work. Fulton emphasises that, rather than being a ‘retreat’ from the world, his walk-works should be read as political actions in the fullest sense of that term – as urgent forms of public address. His work calls into question the binary terms of rural and urban walking, ‘Romantic’ and civic in orientation, poetic and politicised, that so often structure the discourse around walking. His work requires us to see it in terms of both/and, rather than either/or.
Joe Bateman Nomad’s Land, 2010 (see page 32)
Elsewhere, as in Mike Collier’s work, any sense that we can make a simple or single distinction between urban and rural is shown to be illusory. Collier’s walks on the fringes of the city underline the fact that the two domains are both co-dependent and highly indistinct at their edges. Each term both presupposes the other and indeed is inhabited by the other. ‘Walk On’ asks us to remember that many of the tendencies in current art practice originate in the golden age for experimental art practice of the mid-1960s to early 1970s. The timescale that the exhibition covers links this ‘golden age’ with our own time, taking two figures as being exemplary of their times. Richard Long and Janet Cardiff have been extraordinary figures whose works have inspired countless other artists whilst having such distinctive practices that they have no direct followers. Whilst the title ‘from Richard Long to Janet Cardiff’ implies there is a chronological journey between their work, we also suggest that there are even some aspects of their work that are, in some senses, commensurate. Despite differences in form, media and ways of working, both of them ask to invest much in what can be imagined through undertaking a walk. The most simple and universal of acts is made to speak about the state of the world. It allows us to ask what can be rethought about the world and what cannot be readily changed. Richard Long has been valorised almost from the beginning of his career. He is one of only a handful of British artists to have had several major monographic exhibitions and retrospectives internationally. ‘Walk On’ attempts to present Long’s work as it appeared at the beginning of his career: as a radical and even divisive figure. One of the purposes of the exhibition is to recover the sense of how controversial and contentious figures who have subsequently attracted enormous acclaim once were. One sympathetic critic described Long as “an artist who set out in the 1960s to relate to nature in a new way, making art in the landscape without scarring it” and his work as “a walker’s hymn of love for the earth”.4 Such a description begins to illustrate how Long’s work has, because of his
enormous success, been misrepresented as rugged and wholesome or, worse, merely anodyne. 5 We might more accurately characterise it as being concerned with the basic materiality of the world. Long’s decision to employ a vocabulary of simple yet infinitely varied forms, in conjunction with the way that commercial agents have mythologised his work, has also led to some writers caricaturing his role as that of a modern-day pilgrim or emissary, whose work has quasi-religious functions. The most extreme version of such criticisms position Long as spending equivalents of forty days in the wilderness on our behalf, to atone for the sins of the modern world. ‘Walk On’ argues, by contrast, that Long’s decision to base his practice on walking was an audacious, even astonishing one for his time. It also suggests that it might be only now – some forty five years after Long first set out of his studio into the world to make artwork – that we might be able to get a true perspective on his achievements. We might take two works as exemplifying how Long’s work has both extended the language of sculpture and offered alternative readings to different critical tendencies. Both are from the period in which Long cemented his reputation internationally. The work ‘Fourteen Stones’ of 1977, seen in this exhibition, is one of the very first pieces that Long made for installation in a gallery. It consists of fourteen stones gathered by the artist from a beach near the Bristol Channel, arranged on the ground. The stones are carefully laid. The delicacy of the composition and the brute physicality of its components sit in perfect tension. The simplicity of the form, and the imaginative complexity that it gives form to, are in perfect alignment. We argue that Long has in fact been one of the best critics of his own work. He has said that “you could say that my work is ... a balance between the patterns of nature and the formalism of human, abstract ideas like lines and circles. It is where my human characteristics meet the natural forces and patterns of the world … everything has its right place in the world. There are millions of stones in the world and when I make a sculpture, all I do is just take a few of those stones and bring them together ... I use stones because I like stones or because
Jonathan Jones: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2009/jun/03/richard-long-exhibition-tate
they’re easy to find, without being anything special, so common you can find them anywhere”.6 These few sentences encapsulate how Long’s work offers up humble materials with an austerity or even astringency that allows a multitude of possible readings. ‘Fourteen Stones’ commands the gallery space whilst having a very human vulnerability. It precludes any obvious sentimental response at the same time. Hugging the floor, like Carl Andre’s ‘Equivalent’ series, the work is tactile and invites an assessment of its traditional sculptural characteristics of weight, mass and volume. Moreover, the work invites us to undertake our own literal as well as imagined walk to negotiate it. The scale of the work asks us to imagine it in a natural landscape – to imagine the place, or kinds of places, that it could have come from. By contrast, ‘A Line in the Himalayas’ suggests how Long’s photographic works have been so readily misread and caricatured. The walk was undertaken in a location of breathtaking beauty and splendid isolation where no other presence is seen – or implied. The temptation to view such a location as a personal heaven, as a place outside of history, is all too obvious. The allure of photography – that it seems to offer a transparent window into another time and place into which we can be completely absorbed – is for some impossible to resist. The easy criticism of such a work is that any meaning is predetermined by the sensationally photogenic environment: that it invites a reading of the artist’s work in an epic-heroic mode. The tougher response would be that the extreme subtlety and care of the artist’s intervention is easier to ignore when represented on two dimensions. It is also harder to pay attention to when the physical and ecological distance between our own environment and the one on view is great. Long’s presence in the scene is almost subliminal, subtle to the point of requiring us to search for the traces of his presence. The power of the work as sculpture lies in its integration into the site, so that it becomes part of it, rather than an autonomous object. To view it as sculpture, rather than firstly as photography, becomes the challenge in such works. Just as in ‘Fourteen Stones’, the work rests on the simple act of rearranging stones, as though the artist’s act was a kind of primordial mark-making.
Our reading of the work depends on whether we imagine the principal purpose of it as being that we are allowed to vicariously share in the majesty and sublimity of ‘nature’. Or is it proof that Long’s sculptures are able to be made in every type of environment – wherever stone exists, in fact – however few other people ever see it at first hand? Is the fact that walking in spectacular and remote places is intrinsically ‘Romantic’ that determines our reading? Or the quality of the artist’s intervention into it? Is there a way in which we can see past our own received image of a place, and see it through the artist’s eyes rather than through the myths we attach to it? The success of Long’s work rests on being open-ended in the ways it can be understood. The greater the imaginative demands on the viewer and the interpretive work they perform, the stronger the work. Our point of view upon ‘A Line in the Himalayas’ is that of a witness, undeniably. The problem, perhaps, with photographic representation is how simple and unproblematic it appears. Put another way, it is all too difficult not to let what we assume to be the dominant functions of photography spill over onto our experience of a work like ‘A Line in the Himalayas’. Rather than viewing it on its own terms as an imaginative enterprise in which we have an equal share, the weak interpretation would be that it is a kind of ‘expedition’ that only a male artist might undertake. As the historian of landscape John Barrell has written, we speak with good reason of ‘commanding’ a view: the associations between power and place, or relative position in or over a landscape, are all too familiar. To occupy a high vantage point is to occupy a position of relative supremacy. It is all but impossible not to imagine oneself being metaphorically elevated when one is physically elevated. In this sense, we have to keep watch of ourselves when encountering Long’s works. We might say that ‘A Line in the Himalayas’ complicates our understanding of ‘the sublime’. In a characteristically modern way, it seems to offer us both a kind of imagined omnipotence and an imagined insignificance at the same time. We have to ask ourselves if we are the natural or rightful occupants of this space, or else are defying nature even to set foot there. We have to ask if we can be changed by our experience of the space – even though we cannot change it in any meaningful way.
Long is one of a number of artists in ‘Walk On’ whose work might be thought to complicate the Romantic tradition of the lone, silent walker who seems to live inside their own skull and records their impressions or ideas to share with us. The received idea is of course that such impressions promise a poetic, or less frequently political, source of revelations. Several of the artists in ‘Walk On’ play with the expectations that such a mode of address sets up. Famously, Tony Cragg responded directly to Long’s now canonical works by using only man-made found objects instead of ‘natural’ materials. ‘New Stones, Newton’s Tones’ of 1978 was similarly created by a walk, only along the banks of the river Wupper, at Wuppertal in Germany. Cragg similarly collected fragmentary objects – industrially produced plastics that had been washed up on the riverbanks, suggesting that Long’s work was merely a whimsical or wilfully unworldly, picturesque pastoral.
More recently, Carey Young has created a series of works that are now in Tate’s collection, examining what are thought of as the ideological assumptions associated with the canon of radical performance works from the late 1960s and early 1970s. If Long is known for undertaking arduous walks in remote regions that require stamina, endurance and strength of mind, Young’s photographed walks see her in a business suit in Dubai, in soulless environments including piles of waste from construction sites. Young toys with alienating our sympathy by casting herself as a kind of anti-hero: as a humourless capitalist, seen in something like her ‘natural habitat’ of a desolate newly built environment. The location is, it is implied, a sign of the times and emblematic of the twenty-first century. The contrasts to Long’s work are comically extreme: Young’s walk is undertaken across a seemingly vast bed of slate piled into an unruly mass, rather than placed into an elegantly ordered circle. Young’s stones suggest that the chaos and vulgar destructiveness of capitalat-play is what determines the character of life, in the last instance – not elegant geometries, nor myth, nor even what ‘natural’ materials can be made to do.
Richard Long A Line in the Himalayas, 1975 (see page 88) Carey Young Body techniques (after A Line in Ireland, Richard Long, 1974), 2007 (see page 126)
Young’s stones point us towards the gigantic tower blocks in the background, which have no human scale, no obvious relationship to their setting and which are made from modern, mass-manufactured concrete (rather than carefully selected, locally sourced stone). Young’s hypothesis is that across the political spectrum, the ideology of ‘progress’ is now inseparable from the idea of economic growth, which is underwritten by the extraction of oil from the Middle East – for as long as that lasts. Dubai is one of the locations where the consequences of the dominant belief system are made most brutally manifest – and where walking ceases to exist. To undertake a walk here is to do something quite counterintuitive. Walking is the activity of the underclass alone. The wealthiest cocoon themselves into airconditioned environments. Young invites us to bid “farewell to an idea”, to use TJ Clark’s phrase describing the end of modernism as a political and artistic project. The work almost seems to be a bitter commentary on the power of art to change the world. If we merely believe Young is an arch-ironist, her work has failed. If instead we imagine she is a realist – a mirror of our times – it succeeds. Neither ‘nature’ nor the ‘public sphere’ can survive capitalism, she implies – and nor, in the long run, can we. Young’s work might be thought a barbed commentary on what the curator Bruce Ferguson foresaw back in 1996, writing about walking: “The greatest tragedy of the new technologies may be their elimination of the incalculable – the coincidences and provocations and metaphors that in some literal sense ‘take us out of ourselves’ and put us in relation to other things. To live inside a mechanical world is to live inside plotted possibility, what has already been imagined; and so the technologies that are supposed to open up the future instead narrow it.” 7 Young’s work shows how walking obviates material consumption, and how material consumption requires us not to walk, with all of the associated mental activities traditionally involved. To walk is to begin to look, think, imagine and engage with the world, rather than be absorbed into economic exchange. In Ferguson’s words, walking prevents us from becoming historical actors for whom “participating is reduced to consuming”. Or as
Bruce Ferguson, “Walking and Thinking and Walking”, Louisiana Museum, Denmark, 1996, ex cat, p.60.
Michael Sandel has argued, from becoming agentless automata in a social system that has changed from being a ‘market economy’ to a ‘market society’ in which every action is a form of consumption. Artwalking seems to invite us to be better citizens and less successful consumers. Long’s works as much as Janet Cardiff’s and Francis Alÿs’s works refuse this dominant logic, rather than enacting and amplifying it in the way that Young’s does. Cardiff’s walks are not primarily owned by any private collector – they are the collective property of the citizens who have undertaken them. They are made for the cities in which they are commissioned. Their meanings reside in the heads of those who have undertaken and heard them, and there alone. Many commentators have described how Cardiff’s works, as intangible experiences, are interventions in collective memory and our spatial imaginations. Their ‘consumption’ lies solely in the minds of the listeners – and relates to both unobserved or underappreciated phenomena and to coincidences and contingencies. We argue that whilst Cardiff has not dwelt exclusively on the fact that her work eludes the logic of mass consumption, it is crucial to a full understanding of her work. Alÿs, in his work ‘Guards’, seems to make us owners of our own city again, through the most improbable of gestures. ‘Guards’ is a prime example of a playful and yet strangely aggressive intervention into the city – the kind of intervention that only a visual artist could make, in fact. The Coldstream Guards he employed, who are professionally famous for their complete immobility, adopt the opposite role. They were ‘set free’ to wander the City, as if ‘let loose’ by the authorities. Alÿs makes the apparently simple act of walking through city streets into an experience that is liberating and threatening, comic and beguiling. He observes that locating one’s place in the world means, as often as not, finding out what society’s unwritten rules are (and sometimes breaking them). Stepping out into one’s city, to traverse it from one side to the other has been the means to test what is expected of us in public space.
We might even say that, despite their enormous differences, Alÿs’s and Cardiff’s mediums are the same. Both take the composition and choreography of urban space as their theme, as well as the usually unspoken social rules that police its use. Alÿs’s and Cardiff’s actual impositions on urban space are in themselves usually minimal. Instead, they intervene in our perception. In acting on our imagination, the fabric of the city itself seems to change. Creating interventions as subtle as Long’s, they invite us to re-read the environments that surround us – and hence gently challenge both our sense of identity and sense of orientation in the world. Both Alÿs and Cardiff provoke us into adopting a new world-view – through microcosmic gestures. They ask us to enter a mental space that was previously unimaginable, or left unimagined beforehand. They perform that most impossible task, reinventing what we do when we place one foot in front of another and set out into the world. As Rebecca Solnit notes with some irony: “the mind, like the feet, works at about three miles an hour … modern life is moving faster than the speed of thought or thoughtfulness”. 8 As she also argues, “a path is a prior interpretation of the best way to traverse a landscape”. Alÿs and Cardiff offer us new paths into our cityscapes – lesser trodden ones which take us away from our familiar landmarks, points of orientation, and ways of being in the world.
Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking, London: Penguin, 2001, p.21.
References Ferguson, B. 1996. “Walking and Thinking and Walking”. Louisiana Musuem, Denmark. Jones, J. 2009. http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2009/ jun/03/richard-long-exhibition-tate. Rousseau, J-J. 1782. Confessions. Quoted in The English Lakes: A History, I. Thompson, (2010). London: Bloomsbury. Solnit, R. 2001. Wanderlust: A History of Walking. London: Penguin. Solnit, R. 2010. Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Thompson, I. 2010. The English Lakes: A History. London: Bloomsbury.
Biographical note Since 2002 Alistair Robinson has been Programme Director of Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, where he has awarded artists such as Spartacus Chetwynd with their first public exhibitions, and provided international artists from Harun Farocki to Agathe Snow with their first UK public exhibitions. He is the author of Rank: Picturing the Social Order and monographs on artists including Kelly Richardson, David Harrison and Peter Liversidge.
In 1988 Abramovic undertook what might be thought to be one of the most epic walks imaginable. With her long-term collaborator Ulay, she walked along the entirety of the Great Wall of China. The pair started from its two opposite ends, so they would meet in the middle, at Er Lang Shan. In the 1980s, Ulay and Abramovic formed a collective that they named “the other”, describing their collaboration as sharing a “twoheaded body”. ‘The Lovers’ separated them at opposite ends of a sub-continent. Abramovic began at Shanhaiguan, on the coast of the Yellow Sea. Ulay set off from the Gobi desert in the West of the country. Ulay wrote in his diary when there: “North is death. Desert expands. The horizon curves. Matches the eyeball. South there is life. A little. Fewer people than other places.” The six photographs here (alongside a 16mm film now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art) were created to document the action. The work required seven years of preparation and took three months to undertake. The process was fraught with complications, in part because of the military installations on the Wall, and the need for the full co-operation of the Chinese authorities. Abramovic’s performance works have long tested the limits of her own body, involving feats of endurance, challenging either her mental or her physical strength. In this relatively unusual work, there was no immediate audience, but we, as the audience, become witnesses to a search for both true partnership, and those things that the West has lost touch with.
THE LOVERS Performance. We walked the entire length of the Great Wall of China. We started on 30 March, 1988. I started walking at the eastern end of the Wall, at Shan Hai Guan, on the shores of the Yellow Sea, Gulf of Bohai, walking westward. Ulay started walking at the western end of the Wall, at Jai Yu Guan, the south-western periphery of the Gobi Desert, walking eastward. We walked until we met. After we both continuously walked for 90 days, we met at Er Lang Shan, in Shen Mu, Shaanxi province. Duration: 90 days March-June, 1988 The Great Wall of China.
Marina Abramovic The Lovers, (from left to right) Hand, Fireman Based on the Performance with Ulay, 90 Days, 1988. The Great Wall of China. Six framed photographs with unique drawings. 73 x 52 cm (framed). ÂŠ Marina Abramovic. Courtesy of Marina Abramovic and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York.
Marina Abramovic The Lovers, (from left to right) Halo Man, Seated Figure, Star Head Based on the Performance with Ulay, 90 Days, 1988. The Great Wall of China. Six framed photographs with unique drawings. 73 x 52 cm (framed). ÂŠ Marina Abramovic. Courtesy of Marina Abramovic and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York.
“A journey implies a destination, so many miles to be consumed, while a walk is its own measure, complete at every point along the way.” Francis Alÿs, 2005 Francis Alÿs walks a lot. The city is his open-air studio. ‘Guards’ (2004) is one component of ‘Seven Walks’, the body of works commissioned by Artangel and developed over the course of five years spent walking through the streets of London, which includes paintings, drawings, and works in moving image. ‘Guards’ draws upon many of Alÿs’s long-term concerns: how streetscapes structure behaviour, the unspoken rhythms of the city; and the use of daily walking to encounter new phenomena and ideas. The artist provided a series of instructions which form the basis of the film: 64 Coldstream guards enter separately in the City of London, unaware of one another’s route; the guards wander through the City looking for one another; upon meeting, they fall into step and march together; when a square measuring 8 by 8 Guards is built, the complete formation marches towards the closest bridge; as they step on to the bridge, the guards break step and disperse.
Francis Alÿs Guards, 2004-05 Video, 27 min overall, display dimensions variable. Tate: Presented by Tate Patrons 2006. The Artangel Collection at Tate.
Francis Al每s The Nightwatch, 2004 Video 6 min 17 sec. Courtesy of the Artangel Collection.
Joe Bateman’s expansive video works present the artist adopting the persona of a postapocalyptic survivor in a perfectly ordinary English landscape, roaming free. Without any machinery or means of transport, he walks everywhere on foot. He appears as a kind of tragic or sacrificial figure – the “ghost of the environment future”, perhaps. His anomalous behaviour is meant to make us question our own. For a large part of the work, every cue suggests that civilization has ended and only solitary hermits remain alive, scavenging for roadkill for sustenance. The picturesque landscape suggests that the character inhabits a rural and suburban version of the film ’28 Days Later’. Only some way into the work we realise that, with the protagonist excepted, life continues unabated – albeit invisible to him. The work recalls the philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s best-known book Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life of 1998. Agamben and Bateman allow us to imagine what unadorned ‘bare life’ might yet look like when the fossil fuels under our feet are exhausted. At this point, when production grinds to a halt, our cities will become uninhabitable and we will be forced to give up the idea that we control the planet, rather than vice versa. Bateman’s character also resembles Agamben’s description of Roman criminals whose punishment was to be excluded from all society and have their rights as citizens revoked. Their exclusion meant they became sacred men (‘homo sacer’), akin to holy fools.
Joe Bateman Nomad’s Land, 2010 High-definition video. Courtesy of the Artist.
Atul Bhalla’s digital slide presentation ‘Yamuna Walk’ is a photographic account of the four-day walk that the artist undertook along the banks of the Yamuna River which passes through his home town of New Delhi in India. The fiftythree km walk reveals how the river shapes the life of the city across its different zones. The images include some grand projects of civic engineering – four-foot wide overland pipes built on a vast scale. They also include the most ramshackle or absurd constructions, including a temporary kitchen built (if that is the word) on top of the pipes. Bhalla’s walk captures contrasting aspects of modern India in all its beauty and brutality. Waste and breathtaking beauty sit side by side. Indeed, the work begins with a photograph of a riverbank covered with litter. Bhalla alerts us to the contradictions of polluting the natural resource that allows the city to exist. He also alerts us to the fact that, while it has a sacred character in the culture, being associated with rituals of purification, it is also used for refuse disposal. The river is the primary symbol of the divine – and yet it is treated in ways which would suggest the opposite.
Atul Bhalla Yamuna Walk, 2007 Video. Courtesy of Atul Bhalla and sepiaEYE.
Tim Brennan’s performance-led practice has been based around walking for over two decades. He has created over forty major works, which have ranged from a re-walking of the Jarrow March entitled ‘Crusade’ to what might be described as guided tours concerning subjects and locations, from all of the angels on display in the British Museum (‘Museum of Angels’) to St Mark’s Square in Venice (‘Vedute’). Brennan has created such cultural counter-histories for both elevated and unexpected situations by inhabiting received stories as well as forging wholly new ones. More recently, he has examined the idea of Northumbria as a distinct cultural region, walking through and photographing the territories defined by that ancient term. This broadened into an investigation of ‘the idea of North’, as colleague Peter Davidson has described it. In 2012, Brennan created a digital guided tour for the Durham Miners Gala, to be followed from one’s phone or mobile device. In ‘Walk On’, Brennan presents several works including his longest completed walking work, ‘Vedute Manoeuvre’, and ‘iAmbic Pedometer’, a durational iPhone video that records his walking through Sunderland with semi-coherent mumblings that refer to both Wordsworth’s compositional strategy and to the sonic poetry of Kurt Schwitters. Brennan’s current project – one might almost call it a campaign – entitled ‘Roman Runner’ involves the artist envisaging running the entire circumference of the Roman Empire. To date, he has traversed Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall as ultra-marathon manoeuvres. He also presents a compendium of his publications and guide books. Publishing, in tandem with walking, have been critical components of Brennan’s practice throughout his career. The two are inextricably bound together in his oeuvre.
Tim Brennan iAmbic Pedometer: Ur Manoeuvre, January 2013 Performance and video using an Apple iPhone 3G Duration: 1:37:52.
Tim Brennan Vedute Manoeuvre, 2011 Information as material, ‘The Knowledge’ exhibition. 54th Venice Biennale, Gervasuti Foundation, 2011. (Photo Emma Stark.)
Brendan Stuart Burns’s paintings, drawings and photographs are a direct and physical response to both his walks and his more contemplative moments experienced along particular stretches of the Pembrokeshire coast which he has come to know intimately. Time spent walking, often over the same stretches of the same beaches in all weathers and states of the tide, provides him with the experiences necessary to touch and connect physically and emotionally with the land, its history and deep sense of time, all elements that are ever present in his paintings. His works present simultaneously a ‘direct’ and ‘sensed’ experience of the landscape, its geology and geomorphology, in addition to the complex psychological effects such places have on the individual. Horizons shift and scale becomes relative as both close-up details and wider perspectives are referenced, often within the same pieces of work, and recreated later in the studio from copious notes and sketch books. Fundamental to Burns’s method is his layered use of oil and wax, building and constructing an equivalent to the experience of surface, form and space. Each work accordingly sits on the edge between abstraction and representation, reflecting the uneasy balance between the physical and the psychological, intention and accident, the intuitive and the considered. They recreate the entirety of Burns’s experience for us (the transformation of daily and annual cycles; changing climatic and tidal conditions), rather than merely documenting a discrete moment within the traditional confines of naturalism.
BRENDAN STUART BURNS
Brendan Stuart Burns Ache, 2011 Oil and wax on board. 30 cm x 36 cm. Courtesy of the Artist.
Brendan Stuart Burns From the Artist’s Journal. St David’s to Solva, 4.5 mile walk Courtesy of the Artist.
Sophie Calle’s urban expeditions might be thought to recall Vito Acconci’s seminal performance work ‘Following’, made a decade earlier in which he tailed strangers chosen at random without their knowledge, up until they left public space for their homes or offices. In Calle’s work however, the relationship between the artist and their public is different. This is not merely because the expected gender roles, where men act as predators and women are vulnerable, are inverted. The artist’s motivations are unknowable, her ultimate goals opaque, and her behaviour seemingly contradictory. If we might imagine Acconci’s role implies that he is dangerous – is a stalker or assailant – Calle’s activities imply she is a kind of private detective or spy in pursuit of knowing more about a person than they do themselves. The presentation of her works as a kind of diary is intentionally alarming. We are meant to feel both a distance from her or repugnance at her behaviour and, despite this, a simultaneous sympathy for or intimacy with her. Unlike a normal detective story, Calle’s work leaves us with both ‘who’ and ‘why’ left unresolved.
At the end of January 1980, on the streets of Paris, I followed a man whom I lost sight of a few minutes later in the crowd. That very evening, quite by chance, he was introduced to me at an opening. During the course of our conversation, he told me he was planning an imminent trip to Venice. I decided to follow him.
Sophie Calle Suite Vénitienne, 1980 81 elements: 55 black and white prints, 23 texts, 3 maps. 17.1 x 23.6 cm (x 55 photos), 30.2 x 21.7 cm (x 23 texts) Courtesy of Tate, London. © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2013. Photo courtesy of Galerie Perrotin, Hong Kong & Paris.
For over twenty years Cardiff and Miller have created guided audio works which are listened to whilst walking a route chosen by the artists. These works are entirely site-specific, ordinarily. Accordingly, ‘Walk On’ includes documentation that reflects Janet Cardiff’s diverse interests and status in the field. Cardiff’s work depends on discrepancies between what we think we know, what we see and what we are told. Characteristically, her narrative combines fictions with descriptions of the actual landscape so that the status of both fact and fiction are thrown into doubt. Knowledge is, temporarily, reordered. Cardiff’s walks ask us to ponder “Who is speaking to you? Where does reality end and what’s imagined begin?” For her best known work made in the UK, ‘The Missing Voice (Case Study B)’, she created an audio tour from the Whitechapel Library through East London, that reflects on the historical and present-day occupants of that corner of the city.
Janet Cardiff Forest Walk, 1991 Audio walk, 12 min. Banff Centre for the Arts, Canadian Artist in Residence Program.
Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller Jena Walk (Memory Field), 2006 Audio walk. Commissioned by the Culture Department of the City of Jena, Germany.
Janet Cardiff Münster Walk, 1997 Audio walk with mixed media props, 17 min. Curated by Kasper König (with assistant curator Ulrike Groos) for Skulptur.
Rachael Clewlow meticulously documents the ways in which she inhabits the city in which she lives: the routes she takes through it, the times and dates of her travels, and the methods by which (to paraphrase Warhol) she moves from A to B and back again. Several of the artists in ‘Walk On’ use GPS technologies to monitor their own movements through space. Clewlow, by contrast, prefers what the writer Robert Macfarlane has punningly called “the old ways”: she keeps a series of “statistical diaries” in which routes, traditional pathways or not, are “logged, through dedicated, almost ritualistic daily recording”. These diaries are exquisite objects in their own right. They are also the source material for Clewlow’s pictorial inventions. Like other artists here, Clewlow creates her own systems of translation by which the patterns of her own mobility become abstract patterns of form and colour. She describes her process as “the organisation and presentation of related data, accumulated over years” into abstract imagery which “recalls the visual language of maps and their colour coding systems, though their graphic style belies the rigorous and precise handmade approach to making them”. Indeed, Clewlow plays with the idea that her works should be functional, deliberately making them lie on the borders of legibility. Her conceptual and material dexterity ensure that her works instigate journeys in our imaginations.
Rachael Clewlow Explorer, 2011 Framed screenprint on Somerset 300gsm, ed. 20. 78 x 76 cm. Courtesy of the Artist.
Rachael Clewlow Notebooks, 2011/2012 Courtesy of the Artist.
Part of Mike Collier’s practice involves curating walks for groups of people, often with the natural historian Keith Bowey; walks that are also collaborations – slow–moving, meandering explorations of urban ‘edgelands’, those marginal and often unsung places where rural and urban coincide. The shared information recorded when ‘botanizing on the streets’ with participants is layered intuitively into the fabric of his abstract paintings and drawings constructed back in the studio. Text is important in the architecture of Collier’s work; the familiar unfamiliarity of vernacular names, dialects of birds and plants once known but fleetingly remembered, hinting back to the specificity of places and their ecological frameworks. Recently, Collier has embarked on a collaboration with the Wordsworth Trust, working closely with the manuscripts of William and Dorothy Wordsworth (both inveterate walkers, whose walking is often vividly portrayed in these manuscripts). In the prints here (Daffodils 1 & 2 and Good Friday 1 & 2), he works simply, directly and intuitively over the image/text from the journals of Dorothy Wordsworth, responding not only to the words on the page, but to the place the words describe. He has walked these landscapes she describes many times over and understands them well. MS JJ is a key ‘text’ in the history of Romanticism. The manuscript looks ahead to William Wordsworth’s “Two Part Prelude”, a poem with many references to Wordsworth’s extensive habit of walking and its importance in helping him to make sense of his life and art – indeed, it could be argued that this is where the West’s culture of walking began.
Mike Collier Street Flowers: Urban Survivors of the Privileged Land, 2011 Digital print. 120 x 230 cm. Courtesy of the Artist. Produced in collaboration with Tom Madge.
Mike Collier Street Flowers: Urban Survivors of the Privileged Land, 2011 Billboard, St Mary’s Way, Sunderland, (Nov 2011). From ‘CIVIC’, the first international exhibition of billboard art.
Mike Collier Was it for this?, 2012 (From William Wordsworthâ€™s Prelude manuscript, MSJJ.) Unison pastel onto digital print. 35 x 20 cm. Courtesy of the Artist.
Mike Collier Daffodils 1 & 2; Good Friday 1 & 2, 2012 (From Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal entries, 15th and 16th April 1802.) Digital print. 35 x 80 cm. Courtesy of the Wordsworth Trust.
Sarah Cullen’s recent works have resulted from collaborative activities with geographers and other artists. In the past, she has created alternative methods of mapping space using low-tech machines and devices of her own invention. Cullen has, for example, created a ‘drawing box’ consisting of a pencil pendulum that is able to record her movement in space in equivalent strokes of graphite on paper when carried around on a walk. The resulting drawings are almost anti-maps, in the sense that they cannot offer objectivity or legibility. Instead, her artworks bear indexical traces of her presence and motion. What we lose in immediacy, we gain something in a sense of the weight and measure of movement – of the particular gait and pace of an individual’s walking style. Each of us moves through space with a highly particular and identifiable walk: it is a marker of the way we have learnt to occupy the world. Cullen asks us to re-imagine how we can document the ways in which we have ‘become ourselves’, in motion rather than at rest.
Sarah Cullen The City as Written by the City Out and about Florence with Muma, May 21 2005 Courtesy of the Artist.
Sarah Cullen The City as Written by the City Nov 2 2007, Walk to see Trudi and her new pin, Banff Centre – Banff Hospital Courtesy of the Artist.
Bradley Davies’s work is a kind of re-enactment of Vito Acconci’s seminal performance work ‘Following’ of 1969, photographic documentation of which is held in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acconci created a set of instructions which he had to follow to create a work. ‘Following’ saw the artist follow a random individual through the streets of New York until he could no longer do so, at which point he chose another individual at the location he found himself, throughout the day. However, Acconci’s photographs were created retrospectively: they were ‘staged’ rather than documentary images. Davies’s work is, therefore, a reconstruction of a work which only ever really existed in the artist’s head, and which can only be known through images shaped and edited for our consumption subsequently. Davies’s work is also created for an age in which CCTV cameras are now endemic in urban space: walking in the city is impossible to undertake without being observed almost constantly. Britain, in particular, has more CCTV cameras per head of population than any other nation. Accordingly, any attempt to create ‘Following’ today would be quite different: the artist would be seen hundreds of times by security cameras – and his potentially threatening behaviour recorded as evidence throughout the duration of the work. Davies’s work acknowledges this – our point of view being precisely that of a CCTV camera. With thanks to Linda Barrett (South Lanarkshire Leisure), Gordon Matheson (Glasgow City Council), participants Calum Matheson, Rosie Roberts, Alexandra Ruby-Leach, Sofia Stavropolou, Alexander Millar, Cameron MacRostie, and Maxwell Heath. Filming by Nick Thomas.
Bradley Davies Echoing Movements, 2012 Standard-definition video. Courtesy of the Artist.
Chris Drury is perhaps best known for threedimensional works that include installations and sculpture made from natural materials, whether outdoors or in the gallery. Drury is a key figure in what has been called ‘land art’, though his work goes far beyond this term: it has involved collaborations with scientists and experts from a range of disciplines. Drury asserts that ordinarily his work is ‘political’ in that it is able to “draw attention to the way we abuse our environments”. However, another equally important preoccupation is his exploration of what inner or outer nature mean, and the inextricable connections between the two. ‘High Desert Winds’ shows an inkjet map of a walk in the Leh area of Ladak printed over a pattern from a cross section of the human heart made from rust iron filings. The patterns resemble the shape of winds from satellite weather maps. In his woven maps, Drury often weaves two very different or opposite places together uniting them into one. The earth pigments used in the works are always brought back from the actual place and used as dry pigment on wet ground. The most important aspect of walking for Drury is ‘the sense of place’ and the work is always what responds best to the place at that specific moment in time.
Chris Drury Ladakh III & IV, 2003 Woven maps of Ladakh, pushed into a bowl and set within an area of watercolour on paper. 60 x 60 cm. Courtesy of the Artist.
Chris Drury High Desert Wind, 2003 A map of the Leh area of Ladakh, digitally printed over a diagram of the cross-section through the apex of the heart, made from rusted iron filings on wet paper (map, rust iron filings, paper). 104 x 138 cm. Courtesy of the Artist.
Alex Finlay’s ‘The Road North’ loosely echoes the seventeenth century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho’s work The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Basho’s work is one of the canonical works of Japanese literature, written as a prose and verse travel diary, in haiku form. It was written on a journey through Japan’s remote northeastern region of Tohoku. Finlay’s work takes Basho’s work as a starting point which he freely adapts, echoing Basho’s thought that “every day is a journey, and the journey itself home”. ‘The Road North’ documents Finlay’s walking journey around Scotland. Each stopping point is marked by the consumption of a miniature bottle of whisky and a short haiku-style poem. The work offers up unexpected comparisons between Scotland and Japan: most obviously, between the urbanised, hard-headed south and a romantic, isolated north. Finlay combines wry wit and wonder in his multifaceted practice where walking and publishing play equally important roles.
Alec Finlay Oku no hosomichi | The Road North, 2010-11 Pencil drawing, 960 x 650 mm (framed). Courtesy of the Artist.
Alec FInlay The Road North: the 53 stations, 2010-11 Whisky miniatures, poems-labels, rubber stamps, handwriting, Courtesy of Alec Finlay & Ken Cockburn.
“no walk, no work”
Hamish Fulton 31 Walks, 1971–2010 Print. 52 x 69 cm.
Hamish Fulton Specially written text for Walk On catalogue.
Hamish Fulton London, 2 February, 1967 Framed print. 52 x 72 cm.
Hamish Fulton Tibetan National Flag, 2009 64 x 52 cm.
All works courtesy of the Artist and Maureen Payley, London.
WALKing is a seven letter word. The first seven steps. SOLSTICE FULL MOON. A SEVEN DAY WALK IN THE CAIRNGORM MOUNTAINS OF SCOTLAND, JUNE 1986. Simplicity. Walking transforms, walking is magic. Walking is good medicine. Walkabout. Today 2013, walking is more important than internet use. Wiki-walks. Opinion, is a seven letter word. Walking is ancient and contemporary. Consistently, walking in relation t o everything. WINTER SOLSTICE FULL MOON. A CONTINUOUS WALK WITHOUT SLEEP ON THE PILGRIMS WAY FROM WINCHESTER TO CANTERBURY. ENGLAND 21 22 23 DECEMBER 1991. (Pilgrimage routes - a loss of ego.) I am what I call a ‘walking artist’. Neither of these two words describes a conventional art medium (I’m not a sculptor or landscape photographer.) I’m not a conceptual artist. I transform ideas into experience d realities. I am an artist who walks, not a walker who makes art. Walking art is the bringing together of two entirely separate activities. WALKING IS AN ARTFORM IN ITS OWN RIGHT. WALKING IS THE CONSTANT, THE ART MEDIUM IS THE VARIABLE. With Richard Long, I made my first ‘artwalk’ (a seven letter word) as a student at St Martins in London on 2 nd February 1967. But it would take me a further six years to gradually establish through trial and error a working practice. (Walks are constructed with self-imposed rules.) 16 October 1973 after completing one coast to coast walk of just over a thousand miles from northeast Scotland to southwest England, age 27 I made the commitment: TO MAKE 100% ART RESULTING FROM THE EXPERIENCE OF INDIVIDUAL WALKS. Creativity. I believe in diversity (debate and discussion, w e agree to disagree.) A diversity of walk categories, a diversity of artmaking, a diversity of artists. Most importantly, a diversity of lifeforms, GRASSES INSECTS. Commodities? The Rights of Nature. (The Oceans.) Let the art speak for itself? Not so far. 1970’s art historians assumed my walking art into their chosen subjects, namely – landscape painting from the past and, outdoor sculpture in the pr esent. No research into walking. L.A. Confidentiel: I was never influenced by the Romantics and I want no association with LandArt (a seven letter word.) The collision between U.S. Landart and U.S. ‘leave-no-trace’? For the record, the starting date of my attitude was 1959 when I read about the life of Wooden Leg, a Northern Cheyenne who fought Custer. (25 June 1876.) History? Whose history? Justice? J ustice for who? The rights of indigenous peoples. Ten years later, 13 September 1969 I walked – with Nancy Wilson, carrying that same book round the Little Bighorn battlefield. (Celebrity? There are no photographs of Crazy Horse.) By about 1977, I needed to ‘escape’ from landscape art (gardening and the English class system) I attended lectures by world-class mountaineers such as Doug Scott and emers ed myself in expedition literature. I became an ‘armchair mountaineer’. GRAVITY. I am not a mountaineer or climber. I’m not scientific, not an engineer. As a walker, I find mountaineering inspirational. To quote the contemporary U.S. alpinist Steve House, ‘My ice axe may be your paintbrush’. I make walks in cities. INDOORS, is a seven letter word. I believe in solitary walks OUTSIDE combined with ‘wild’ camping. Tent life, close to the ground, closer to nature. Grasses, insects. I can keep walking all day but I’m not a fast walker. Slowalk, is a seven letter word. At Tate Modern (30 April 2011) I made an indoor public communal walk titled, Slowalk in support of Ai Weiwei. Protected by The Rule of Law? H.A.T. High altitude trekking. During the 49 th day of the expedition we stood still on the summit of mount Everest, Chomolungma. Bardo. This experience was made possible for me only because I was guided by Sherpas. By Ang Dorje Sherpa of Pangboche. High and low, near and far. Far away and long ago. A good question is, how far could you walk?. To date, my longest walk covered a distance of 2838 kilometres (carrying all my own luggage), coast to coast from Spain to the Netherlands. WALKING INTO THE D ISTANCE BEYOND IMAGINATION. It is important to state that this not very long walk was ‘easy’. A very much harder, ‘gnarly’ walk might be a mere fraction of this length. From mountaineers I learnt the importance of route and style. After several years of failed attempts, I finally succeeded in: COUNTING 49 BAREFOOT PACES ON PLANET EARTH DURING EACH NIGHT OF THE TWELVE FULL MOONS FOR 2010. My hidden carbon footprint. Just one consequence of persistently ignoring nature is, global warming. Who cares about dates? Numbers is a seven letter word. Ursa Major. Quipu. Clock time, lifespan, death. Spring, summer, autumn, winter, Earth. The migration of whales, the migration of butterflies. (Lunar calendar.) No thing, is a seven letter word. Every thing is made of something. A mountain is not made of stone, it is stone. AN OBJECT CANNOT COMPETE WITH AN EXPERIENCE. Since 1973 every piece of art I have materialized (things) contains a walk text. I do not provide the relief of wordless art. (I don’t also make abstract art.) THERE ARE NO WORDS IN NATURE. The physical weight of (spoken) words. Talk the walk, THE WALK IS THE ART. SMALL ART BIG EXPERIENCE. Walking transforms, walking is magic. Tibetan Kora. Tibetan nuns. The last seven steps. Up to this time of writing, 99 Tibetans have self-immolated. History? Whose history?
COAST TO COAST COAST TO R I V E R R I V E R TO COAST R I V E R TO R I V E R
A WALKED LINE UNLIKE A DRAWN LINE CAN NEVER BE ERASED
WALKING INTO THE DISTANCE BEYOND IMAGINATION
31 WALKS 1971-2010
Tracy Hanna works with video projection and three-dimensional media to explore perception and our physical relationship to sculpture. ‘HillWalker’ is perhaps uncharacteristic of her work in that it offers both overt comedy and bathos. We encounter a lone, heroic figure, seen at a miniature scale. Footage of a walker, climber or mountaineer struggling up a snow-covered hillside is projected onto a bag of plaster that has been formed into a cone shape that looks like the ur-form of a mountain. The form is not unrealistic enough to be cartoon-like or alarming. But nor is it realistic enough to be any mountain in particular. It merely evokes the category of ‘mountain’ with the minimum means required. The hill-walker’s progress from bottom to top takes only a minute, after which it is repeated – again and again. The brevity of the process renders the arduous efforts expended on the task seem ludicrous. It is as though men’s motivation to walk, climb, explore and conquer was merely a pathology, or an adjunct to a willto-power. The walker seems more like Sisyphus than the single-minded hero that a mountaineer must be to stay alive.
Tracy Hanna Hill Walker, 2009 Video projection, Duration: 58 seconds, 25kg plaster, 110 x 64 x 45 cm. Courtesy of the Artist.
Dan Holdsworth’s extraordinary image is a negative depicting the landscape of southern Iceland: a place where volcanic ash and glaciers co-exist – where the earth’s tectonic plates create upsurges of enormous heat energy into a climate of extreme cold. Holdsworth’s large-format images were taken on walks into the glacier: no vehicle can penetrate such forbidding landscapes. Even so, our pathway into the space is terrifyingly short. By the middle distance, we would seemingly become enveloped into a total, sublime darkness from which it seems like there could be no point of return. Initially, we might imagine that the image is simply monochromatic and that only the tone rather than the colour spectrum have been inverted. Holdsworth underscores how alien this landscape is by abstracting it – rendering it even more incomprehensible, impenetrable and immense. The sublime, of course, is that which cannot be fully grasped by the imagination. We actually see it permeated with basalt-black dust. When inverted and turned white, the glacier is seemingly illuminated from within when rendered in negative. The place seems like a ghost landscape for a good reason. This landscape is, tragically, a transient one, despite its majestic scale. Due to the effects of global warming, it is melting away under our feet. In the space of a generation, there will be no landscape to walk on.
Dan Holdsworth Blackout 10, 2010 Lightbox, 191 x 240 x 30 cm. Courtesy of the Artist and Brancolini Grimaldi Gallery, London. Originally commissioned by CIRCA Projects.
James Hugonin is renowned for extraordinarily subtle and complex paintings that create powerful interactions of colour and rhythm, being based on an underlying grid. Hugonin’s rigorously abstract works are amongst the more unexpected inclusions in ‘Walk On’. To see Hugonin’s work in this context is to imagine the situation in which his work begins to take shape. His practice is grounded in the habit of daily walks on the northern edge of the Northumberland National Park, where the crisp, infinitely varied, sonorous colours of the natural world are all-pervasive. Back in the studio, the experience of seeing the world as a kind of glorious field of colour is, we might say, transmuted into his idiosyncratic way of working. His work has been described as being “filled with a kind of contained light that relates keenly to the place in which they are made”: namely the bracken and heather moorland near the border between England and Scotland. Hugonin’s work is quite unlike Victor Pasmore’s abstractions from nature, though. His project might better be described as almost akin to remaking Cézanne after minimalism: a search for an intense, almost musical order and rhythm. Also, unlike Gerhard Richter’s grid paintings, Hugonin’s work is better seen as being of the world, rather than nihilistically against it – it is an attempt to reorder our sensory perceptions to register the world anew, in contrast to the German artist’s exercises in chance and chaos, repetition and randomness, order and beauty.
James Hugonin Binary Rhythm (Dark Red/Indigo), 2012 42 colour screen print, two parts. Edition of 45. 81.6 x 72.2 cm image size, 107.5 x 92.5 cm each paper size. Courtesy of the Artist/Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh.
ON WAYS OF WALKING AND MAKING ART: A PERSONAL REFLECTION
PREFACE As an artist myself, I am aware of the dangers of categorising artists and their work, when in reality the business of making art is often messy and almost never discrete. However, whilst an artist’s practice is created from, and responds to, a whole range of different personal, environmental, social and political contexts, I do think it is possible to discuss an artist’s work within the framework of something which they do – something practical, based in the everyday … something such as walking. And so in this essay I hope to explore a range of widely different practices that, in one way or another, involve or gain inspiration from the simple act of taking a walk. For the sake of clarity, I have broken down my essay into a series of headings (Walking and Identity, Agency and Political Action; Walking and Painting; Walking, Maps/Mapping and Poetry; and Culture and Nature) and discussed certain artists’ work within each section. However, in truth, it is almost impossible to categorise the artists represented in ‘Walk On’, and most could be included in any one of the sections I write about. That having been said, I do feel there may be something fundamental that links all (or at least most) of the artists here. And that is that they all take what I call an embodied or phenomenological approach to the making of their work in either: —— the way that they respond directly to things as we find them; —— the way that they ‘represent’ movement through space (by walking), activating senses we sometimes takes for granted (smell, touch, taste, temperature); —— the way that they engage with an embodied experience of space and depth (what Merleau-Ponty called the “flesh of the world”); —— the way that their work engages with others (a fundamental and much overlooked element of phenomenology – if we experience the world through our bodies, then we must engage with others, touch/ brush up against them and be aware of their sense of self and of our responsibility to others); and finally in —— the way that their practice could be seen as philosophy in action; put simply, that making art is a practical application of phenomenology.
I WALKING AND IDENTITY: AGENCY AND POLITICAL ACTION
independence and self-determination. It embodied the free and radical mind.
Of course, the link between walking and art goes back further than the forty years suggested by the exhibition’s title, but we have chosen to begin with Richard Long for good reasons. In the notes to an exhibition I saw at the Arnolfini in 1982, Long identified why he, as a student at St Martin’s School of Art in the 1960s, began to make art about walking – art that was walking/walking that was art:
Artist Tim Brennan has developed a walking practice based around a series of what he calls ‘manoeuvres’ over a period of some twenty years. The latest of these is ‘iAmbic Pedometer: Ur Manoeuvre’ (2013), and in this work, he resurrects the idea of the radical Wordsworth, with more than a ‘nod’ to Schwitters’ sound poem, Ursonate (both residents of the central Lake District around Grasmere and Ambleside):
In the mid-sixties the language and ambition of art was due for renewal. I had felt art had barely recognised the natural landscapes which covered this planet, or had used the experiences those places could offer … I like the idea of using the land without possessing it ... I have become interested in using a walk to express original ideas about the land, art and walking itself.1
‘iAmbic Pedometer: Ur Manoeuvre’ is unedited hand-held video footage of a walk Brennan made in Sunderland, its duration ... being dictated by the battery life in his iPhone. Wordsworth never visited Wearside as far as we know, but Sunderland is Brennan’s home: he was born there and now works and lives there again. Like Wordsworth, his creative practice continually returns to a central hub. ... [In the video,] we see him leaving home ... to ‘manoeuvre’ his way through his urban surroundings, moving more slowly this time as he walks and talks, mumbling incessantly to himself as he goes. In the very process of walking, the familiarity of place becomes unfamiliar, a stage for creative performance. Only occasionally do his murmurs become more cogent, passages of comparative lucidity that give us some clue to their sources and destinations of meaning. Or perhaps he is more an urban shamanic poet, speaking in tongues on the edge of (in)coherence, whilst struggling with the technology and the kit.3
Many artists in ‘Walk On’ recognise and value the natural world, making art that is not about possession or power, glamour or material things, but about real things in our environment, presented straightforwardly. And Long’s insistence that art is in need of renewal is still relevant today. There are, for instance, some historical ‘myths’ around walking and art-walking that I would like to dispel straightaway, especially the link often made between art-walking and the idea of the ‘pastoral’. Walking-artists are not walking away from the real world; many are, rather, challenging the notion of the pastoral as an ideology “that served to endorse a comfortable status quo for the landowning classes” … a view of the pastoral as “essentially escapist in seeking refuge in the country and often also in the past”.2 The reality is that the relationship between art, walking and the world is a complex one. The idea, the culture, of walking is (and has been) politically and socially value-laden. At various times it has been socially exclusive and yet (for instance) for Wordsworth and the Romantics, walking and mobility became a weapon of resistance, a symbol of
Long, R in Wallis, C. (ed.). Heaven and Earth. London: Tate Publishing, 2009
Terry Gifford, Pastoral, London: Routledge, 1999.
Brennan’s work contextualises and interrogates notions of Romanticism and the picturesque. In his work, the relationship between culture and nature, countryside and city, remains a complex one, and, indeed, in recent years the ‘countryside’ has become an increasingly contested area politically and socially, still seen by many as representing a hierarchical, privileged and exclusive culture. The perception of Britain as a country not of freedom and endlessly extending footpaths but one of exclusivity and xenophobia is a Britain
Carol McKay, in Carol McKay and John Strachan (eds), Their Colours and Their Forms: Artists’ Responses to Wordsworth, Sunderland: Art Editions North and the Wordsworth Trust, 2013.
that Ingrid Pollard’s work critiques. “Britain”, she says about her project ‘Pastoral Interlude’, “has traditionally been represented by an idealised rural landscape, the rolling green hills, the farm in the valley, and the sun setting over the wheat fields. The binary opposite lies within the city and its traffic, smoking chimneys, teeming hordes, that are constantly encroaching on the countryside”. Pollard explains that her work disrupts such simple commonsense notions, questioning the construction of the Romantic countryside idyll and challenging assumptions of identity and ownership. ‘Wordsworth’s Heritage’ (1992), shown in this exhibition, was originally commissioned by the BBC as part of a billboard project shown on twenty five urban sites around the UK. Mimicking the mass tourist postcards found all over the Lake District, Pollard introduces contemporary black walkers into the setting of the countryside near Grasmere, and features Wordsworth’s profile in the centre of the ‘constructed’ image. “Wordsworth and his poetry”, says Pollard, “are icons closely linked with the ‘Lake District’”. The placing of black walkers transforms the Romantic landscape and questions of identity, belonging and heritage are brought to the fore in a thoughtful, powerful work that wryly and sensitively questions issues of identity. Walking, Pollard seems to be saying, may appear to be one of the most egalitarian ways in which we can experience the world in all its richness and complexity and, as such, we may think of it as an experience that, intuitively, is common to most and shared by many. But this is an illusion. The walking experience is contextual and relative; issues of race and class are still barriers to engagement with the land. Some artists in ‘Walk On’ have tackled this notion of exclusivity head on; Simon Pope, for example (as well as Brennan, Fulton and others in this show), often undertakes group walks, deliberately subverting the Romantic notion of the solitary walker. Pope has remarked, “My recent work has focused on walking as a model for processes of dialogue and negotiation”. His practice is socially engaged, operating, it would seem, in direct opposition to the idea of the solitary walker.
Tim Brennan iAmbic Pedometer, Ur Manoeuvre, January 2013 Performance and video using an Apple iPhone 3. Duration 1:37:52 (see page 36)
He sees walking as having the potential to bring people together – to share experiences and to learn from a mutual exchange of ideas – and, through his walking and talking with others, he questions culturally constructed views and values of landscape. Walking is also a medium through which we can ‘expressively’ take direct action. Some of the artists in this show have taken a more direct view of walking as performativity agency – walking as action. In the UK, such ‘action’ has manifested itself variously and importantly across the twentieth century including the Jarrow March in 1936 (a walk that was undertaken sixty years later by Brennan) and the mass trespass of Kinder Scout in 1932. In both cases, the ‘walk’ was a means of direct action in the political, social and geographical landscape. Brennan’s walk took place in August 1996 when he spent twenty five days walking the 298-mile route of the Jarrow Crusade that had taken place sixty years previously. As Andrea Phillips comments in her essay on Brennan for the book Codex: Crusade:
not reaching the top echoes the absurdity of the romantic notion of the solitary walker striding off up the hill – a walker who sees only the summit as ‘his’ goal – and not the walk itself. In a sense, the solitary walker moving single-mindedly and relentlessly towards a point but missing the flora, fauna and culture along the way is a disembodied walker, who really misses the point.
the original march holds a very particular position in popular, leftwing histories of the twentieth century. In the face of chronic poverty, 200 men marched from Jarrow to London, utilising direct action to highlight the necessity of national government to find a solution to unemployment in the North-East.4 Dan Holdsworth’s light box and photographs refer in scale and subject matter to both the notion of the romantic sublime, and to the need for us to take action in the face of potential environmental disaster. Holdsworth’s journeys to the landscape of southern Iceland involved him in a good deal of walking – and walking with a good deal of equipment. The images we are showing in ‘Walk On’ are photographic negative depictions of this landscape of volcanic ash and glacier, and Holdsworth’s ‘negatives’ not only abstract and subvert the sublime, they also question the impact that global warming is having on this ‘beautiful’ landscape. These ghostly images seem to preface an uncertain future – a landscape which is melting away. Tracy Hanna’s video image of a walker endlessly climbing a hill but
Tim Brennan, Codex: Crusade, Sunderland: Art Editions North, 2004.
Dan Holdsworth Blackout 10, 2010 (see page 68)
II WALKING AND PAINTING What relevance does walking have for a painter? It might be argued that, whilst the painters included in ‘Walk On’ could not be described as ‘walking artists’, they are artists who walk and whose embodied practice I would describe as phenomenological. Their work is not about walking but, nevertheless, I believe that walking has played a role in defining the form that it takes. Indeed, I would argue that walking has generally had an influence on the development of some aspects of modern and contemporary painting, stretching back to Cézanne, and beyond (for instance, to Turner’s Welsh itinerary, watercolours and notes of 1795 and the young Cotman’s journey and watercolours of Yorkshire in 1803). Cézanne himself walked extensively through the landscape surrounding Mont Sainte-Victoire – an activity that, I maintain, had a direct influence on the formal development of his work. James Hugonin’s studio lies under the north-eastern foothills of the Cheviot hills. When I first visited Hugonin there in 1988, he suggested going for a walk in the hills behind his studio. It was then I discovered that Hugonin walked or ran in these hills almost every day – something he continues to do to this day. This became the first of a number of studio visits and walks I took with Hugonin and I thought I could see how the act of walking had impacted, and had a profound affect, on his paintings. It would be too easy, I think, to say that the form of the beautiful paintings he makes relates directly to the way that light flickers and shifts across the Northumberland hills – although it is hard not to read one aspect of these pictures in this way. His Binary Rhythm (Dark Red/Indigo) screen prints ‘breathe’, creating dynamic and oscillating spaces – spaces that we are a part of both figuratively and intellectually as we engage with the rhythmic forms that draw us into his work. As the writer Richard Davey explained in a recent essay about Hugonin’s work:
but they are painted in studios bathed in a very particular light … they reflect and imitate our experience of natural colour, not as something neatly divided and classified, but as something that is part of, and emerges from the landscape: colour as dappled light: sparkling or dull, rippling and flowing in a state of constant flux; a substance as fugitive and ephemeral as quicksilver or a rainbow.5 Another painter for whom I believe walking and phenomenology are important is Brendan Stuart Burns. The paintings in the exhibition could not have been created without the artist having walked extensively through the landscape – in this case the landscape of Pembrokeshire. They were made whilst Burns was artist in residence at Oriel y Parc, Landscape Gallery, St. David’s, when he also wrote extensively about the walks he made in his journals. From these autobiographical notes, it is easy to see how these walks ‘become’ the paintings which allude to “the ceaseless movement of coastal winds, the brilliant light and flicker of inshore wave and water” and “the shapes, structures and textures of sea-worn littoral rock, the reflected and refracted colour of mollusc shell, lichen and vegetation at the marine edge”.6 The excerpts below from Burns’s journal echo the way Cézanne walked and painted his landscape at Mont SainteVictoire: (25 Aug 2009) St David’s to Solva, 4.5 miles. It’s been at least 10 years since I walked in this opposite direction, usually walk Solva – St. David’s … Extremely hot this afternoon, took nearly 5 hours to walk the 4.5 miles … with the heavy rains of previous nights, many edges were new and un-trodden, and vulnerable. Colour particularly rich … (29 Aug 2009) These cliff walks and beaches, St. Nons, Caefai, St. Justinians, Porthclais have all become so familiar, so personal, only now beginning to engage in an honest and meaningful relationship. The small paintings in particular have only yesterday become more confident and immediate – with new and honest influences from the immediate locations and experiences.7
These works may not seem to reflect the Northumbrian landscape,
Richard Davey, James Hugonin, Edinburgh: Ingleby Gallery, 2010.
Mel Gooding, Tony Curtis, Sally Moss and Ann Price-Owen, Glimpse: Brendan Stuart Burns, St. Davids, Pembrokeshire: Retreats Group, 2012.
Gooding et al, Glimpse: Brendan Stuart Burns, 2012.
III WALKING, MAPS/MAPPING AND POETRY I have always enjoyed reading maps – partly out of necessity, to find out where I am and where I am going, but also for the poetry of the place names which fire the imagination. A map is: neither inventory nor itinerary, but a litany of landmarks, calling out natural features which have been associated with human history, human whim, human folly, human interest. The names on the map and on our breath recall a past people intimate with the land: where there are fields, every field has its name. The objective map is a social inscription of the apparently personal. To walk in a named place is generally to walk where others have gone before.8 Around the same time that I was first introduced to James Hugonin, I picked up a copy of a book by Tim Robinson called the Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage, and shortly afterwards, on a subsequent visit to Connemara, I bought a small guidebook and map – the map produced by a company called Folding Landscapes, which, it turned out, was Tim and Máiréad Robinson. Walking and map-making are interlinked and in the first chapter of Stones of Aran, Robinson explains how he began making maps – something that started shortly after his move to the west coast of Ireland. His first map, of the Aran Islands, was well received locally and had “prospered moderately with tourists”. But, perhaps, for Robinson, the most important thing was that it now brought him into contact with “the specialists in various fields who visited Aran”. And so, as he embarked on a second version of the map, which was published in 1980, he “walked the islands in companionship with such visiting experts as well as with the custodians of local lore whom I sought out in every village”.9
Matsuo Basho, whose Oku-no-hosomichi (Narrow Road to the Deep North) is one of the masterpieces of travel literature. Following Basho and his traveling companion Sora, their journey took in 53 ‘stations’, from Pilrig to Pollokshields via Berneray, Glen Lyon, Achnabreck and Kirkmaiden. They left Edinburgh on 16 May 2010, the same date that Basho and Sora departed Edo in 1689, and finished their journey at Glasgow’s Hidden Gardens in May 2011.10
Alec Finlay’s work in this exhibition (produced in collaboration with Ken Cockburn), is ‘The Road North’, a word-map of Scotland, composed by Finlay & Cockburn as they travelled through their homeland in 2010 and 2011. They were guided on this journey by the Japanese poet
David Reason, “A Hard Singing of Country”, in: S. Cutts, D. Reason, J. Williams, L. Burckhardt, G. Murray, J. Bevis & T.J. Clark (eds), The Unpainted Landscape, Edinburgh & London: Coracle Press, 1987.
Tim Robinson, Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage. London: Penguin, 1990.
Alec FInlay The Road North: the 53 stations, 2010-11 (see page 58)
IV CULTURE AND NATURE In 1998, Chris Drury wrote: The edge is the division What is known is always from the past Through knowledge, the new is a reworking of the old The sum total of knowledge is culture Culture is the veil through which we describe nature The process of nature continues despite our analysis Our analysis is part of the process of nature The process of nature must include the actions of man Whether or not they are destructive Man’s description of nature as something separate – out of town – where the edge is the division between ‘nature’ and ‘culture’, is an illusion. ‘Nature’ and ‘Culture’ are the same thing. There is no division.11 Drury sees no distinction between culture and nature – the false line drawn between the city and the country – and many artists in ‘Walk On’ make use of new technologies in their work, exploring the relationship of technology to the body and our embodied relationship to the world. GPS is, after all, merely a new form of mapping; a tool, just like the early signposts, way markers and cairns people would leave to help them locate their place within the landscape. For instance, in Home, an exquisite small book of nineteen cairns photographed by Mark Wilson and Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir on a walking expedition in the north of Iceland in 1998, the artists explain that the weather conditions were: consistently misty. Visibility 10 meters except in the fjords. The largest scale map of the area in existence is 1:1000.000. In such conditions the reliance on a compass is imperative. Inevitably, at times, we would need to rely on something else.
Chris Drury, in K. Syrad, Chris Drury, Silent Spaces, London: Thames & Hudson, 1998.
This something else was their embodied, intuitive relationship to the environment of which they had become a part – a marriage of technology and animal instinct. The work of Brian Thompson embraces a combination of both old and new technologies (culture and nature) in making and walking. His work is phenomenological both in the way that he engages with the materiality of a place and in the way that this experience is materially re-presented as sculpture. He uses traditional materials (local wood, porcelain, glass and bronze) and carefully crafted techniques, but deliberately records some of his walks with modern satellite navigation: tracking his movement through space, the lines inscribed by the technology become the first notation, the outline drawing, for the sculptures he subsequently fabricates using (in the case of his glass sculptures) technically sophisticated water-jet cutters … they are coded memories or traces of well-trodden routes.12 And in his two-dimensional work, lines traced are “layered over abstracted, pixilated maps, evoking a contemporary digital cartography”.13 Tim Knowles creates art works that trace walks dictated solely by the direction of the wind – wind-walks. Relying on natural forces, Knowles’ work deals with the boundaries between culture and nature. His ‘tools’ include a mechanical device which registers the movements and changes in wind direction; changes to be followed by the user who wears this apparatus strapped onto their head. In ‘Seven Walks from Seven Dials’ the meandering route of the wind-walker (guided solely by the wind) collides with buildings, walls, railings, ventilation shafts, parked vehicles – culture and nature literally in collision. The resultant ‘drawings’ don’t differentiate between body, stone, concrete, road, tree or car and appear from out of this meander as unpredictable traces – lines sometimes organic and free-flowing and
Carol McKay and John Strachan (eds), Their Colours and Their Forms: Artists’ Responses to Wordsworth, 2013.
Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Janet Cardiff: A Survey of Works Including Collaborations with George Bures Miller, New York: P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, 2002.
in orange, reminiscent of Rimbaud’s synaesthetic poetry; plan b’s ‘All our GPS tracks, 2011-2012’ are etched into acrylic sheets creating an intricate web of lines that immortalises their everyday lives in Berlin, whilst Jeremy Wood’s ‘White Horse Hill’ is a beautiful sculptural rendition of a GPS walk in Uffington, Oxfordshire, as seen from the heavens. Elsewhere, walkwalkwalk drift through the streets of Bethnal Green collecting stories and objects, creating a narrative of place.
at other times, as the walker hits a wall, for instance, mechanistic and angular. However, Knowles’ work also acts a critique of the restrictions we take for granted in our everyday manoeuvring around the urban landscape – the hidden ways in which our lives are controlled. Today, walking and mapping have taken many other forms, as witnessed in a number of works by a younger generation of artists. Rachael Clewlow’s ‘Explorer’ is a colour coded and abstract annotation of her daily routine: Monday is shown in red, Tuesday
Jeremy Wood White Horse Hill, 2002 (see page 120)
Yet, whereas the Baudelarian Flâneur or the Situationist Drifter may have been happy to lose themselves in the city, following their whim or instincts, the contemporary Flâneur, often accompanied by a GPS device, is a reminder of the state of our world today. The delicate, beautiful ‘walk lines’ that we see in these works are also the traces of our contemporary social existence, of our daily movements traceable by others, under constant surveillance. ‘Search’ (1993), by Pat Naldi and Wendy Kirkup. consists of silent video footage documenting a synchronised walk undertaken by the artists in Newcastle-upon-Tyne city centre in 1993, recorded on the then-brand-new sixteen-camera surveillance system run by Northumbria Police (Newcastle-upon-Tyne was the first city centre in the UK to install a Closed Circuit Television network). The artists walked separately across the city secretly observed by the surveillance cameras. The raw footage was given by the police to the artists who edited it into twenty ten-second sequences which were then transmitted completely unannounced during the commercial breaks on Tyne Tees Television between 21 June and 4 July 1993. Whilst ‘Search’ was a carefully controlled and choreographed walk, along a ‘route’ determined by the location of the surveillance cameras, it revealed a secret and hidden ‘history’ of the way that we are monitored and corralled in our interaction with the urban environment. This is the other side of the solitary romantic walker, unable to lose him or herself in the contemporary urban environment, observed and monitored, literally at every turn.
The title of our exhibition is Walk On: From Richard Long to Janet Cardiff, 40 Years of Art Walking. I began my essay with a discussion of Richard Long’s work and appropriately enough wish to finish by mentioning the work of Janet Cardiff. In her audio walks, Cardiff also uses new technologies (Walkman, MP3 Player, audio-visual equipment) and makes little or no distinction between the urban and rural; indeed both ‘sites of meaning’ often overlap in her work. The artist encourages us to experience/perceive the world by using a range of senses, not just the visual (something which our culture from the Enlightenment onwards has tended to preface). Writing of ‘Munster Walk’ (1997), Cardiff says: I am interested in how audio affects our perception of the physical world. We understand three-dimensional space by using our vision, but also by the character of the sounds we hear. If these sounds are manipulated and changed, then our perception of reality can be drastically affected. If you are physically walking though an urban space, you can suddenly be transported, through binaural sound, to the feeling of walking in a forest.14 It has not been possible in the space available to me here to discuss the work of all the artists in ‘Walk On’, and my choice of whom to write about does not indicate a particular hierarchy or preference within the show or the work selected. I would like to leave the final word to Hamish Fulton whose essay in this publication I urge you to read and re-read. Fulton continues to be a source of inspiration for me thirty years after first seeing his work in a show in which I was peripherally involved called ‘Coastline’ shown at Newlyn Art Gallery: I believe in diversity (debate and discussion, we agree to disagree). A diversity of walk categories, a diversity of art-making, a diversity of artists. This is what I hope we have achieved in ‘Walk On’.
References Brennan, T. 2004. Codex: Crusade. Sunderland: Art Editions North. Christov-Bakargiev, C. 2002. Janet Cardiff: A Survey of Works Including Collaborations with George Bures Miller. New York: P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center. Davey, R. 2010. James Hugonin. Edinburgh: Ingleby Gallery. Drury, C. in K. Syrad. 1998. Chris Drury, Silent Spaces. London: Thames & Hudson. Gifford, T. 1999. Pastoral. London: Routledge. Gooding, M., T. Curtis, S. Moss & A. Price-Owen. 2012. Glimpse: Brendan Stuart Burns. St. Davids, Pembrokeshire: Retreats Group. Long, R in Wallis, C. (ed.). 2009. Heaven and Earth. London: Tate Publishing McKay, C. & J. Strachan. 2013. Their Colours and Their Forms: Artists’ Responses to Wordsworth. Sunderland: Art Editions North and the Wordsworth Trust. Reason, D. 1987. “A Hard Singing of Country”, in: S. Cutts, D. Reason, J. Williams, L. Burckhardt, G. Murray, J. Bevis & T.J. Clark (eds) The Unpainted Landscape. Edinburgh & London: Coracle Press. The Road North, http://www.theroadnorth.co.uk/ Robinson, T. 1990. Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage. London: Penguin
Biographical note Mike Collier is a lecturer, writer, curator and artist. He studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths’ College, University of London before being appointed Gallery Manager at the ICA in London. He subsequently became a freelance curator and arts organiser, working extensively in the UK and abroad and initiated many major exhibitions whilst working at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Throughout his career, Mike has maintained his artistic practice. Much of his work is based around walking - through the city, the countryside and urban ‘edgelands’. He integrates image and text, often drawing upon the poetic qualities of colloquial names for places, plants and birds. In 2010 he co-founded W.A.L.K. (Walking, Art, Landskip and Knowledge), a research centre at the University of Sunderland, with Brian Thompson and Tim Brennan.
Installation shot: Walk On, PM Gallery & House, March 2013 Featuring works by (right to left): Left page: Marina Abramovic, The Lovers Right page: Julian Opie, Richard Wentworth. On floor: Richard Long. In background: Rachael Clewlow, walkwalkwalk, Brian Thompson.
Tim Knowles creates photographs, films and abstract drawings by undertaking walks. Knowles’s working methods are deliberately improbable, idiosyncratic and inventive. He makes use of chance in innumerable ways, ensuring that the outcome of each walk is unknown in advance. As the critic Jessica Lack has written in The Guardian, 11 June 2009, his works are “generated by apparatus, mechanisms, systems and processes beyond the artist’s control”. They are “akin to scientific experimentation, where a situation is engineered in which the outcome is unpredictable. There is a poetry, English eccentricity and wit to the work”. For ‘Walk On’ Tim Knowles presents an excerpt of a larger work, showing one of a series of seven walks made from Seven Dials, London. Each of these walks is guided solely by the wind as Knowles steadfastly follows a windvane mounted on a helmet worn on his head. He has no ability to affect the windvane and simply acts as a servant to the system he has devised. The wind takes him on a meandering route, at times blown directly down a street, at others caught in eddies repeatedly circling on street corners or joining the city’s other debris down some cul de sac. His meandering path collides with the rigid structure of the city; his route tracing out buildings, railings, ventilation shafts, parked vehicles and other boundaries. Knowles devises a new method of exploring the city and reveals how the wind moves through and is shaped by its structure.
Tim Knowles From Windwalk â€“ Seven Walks from Seven Dials, 2009 Multimedia installation: Helmet, sail, wall drawing and monitor. Courtesy of the Artist.
Richard Long has, since the beginning of his career, worked outside the gallery to create works by walking, where he leaves marks and traces on the landscape. His work has encompassed making epic walks lasting many days to remote parts of the world, as well as making use of the materials from the River Avon. His work is made through the relationship he develops with a place and his physical involvement with it. On the course of a walk this can entail rearranging natural elements, or walking in lines or circles so that his presence has been made manifest. As he has remarked, “These works are of the place, they are a rearrangement of it and in time will be reabsorbed by it. I hope to make work for the land, not against it”. Accordingly, many of his walks are made visible through marks on the world which form basic shapes – lines and circles – rather than through constructions or new artefacts. Although Long has often been associated with the earliest days of ‘land art’, his interventions in landscapes are ordinarily temporary or humble and almost always simple.
Richard Long A Line in the Himalayas, 1975 (printed 2004) Digital print on paper mounted onto aluminium, 860 x 1284 mm. Photo © Tate, London 2013. Presented by the artist (Building the Tate Collection) 2005. © Richard Long, DACS. All rights reserved, 2013.
Richard Long A Square Of Ground, 1966. Plaster on plywood base 95 x 320 x 270 mm Photo © Tate, London 2013. Purchased with funds provided by the Knapping Fund 1991. © Richard Long, DACS. All rights reserved, 2013.
Richard Long England, 1968 Photograph, black and white, on paper, 314 x 476 mm. Photo ÂŠ Tate, London 2013. ÂŠ Richard Long, DACS. All rights reserved, 2013.
Richard Long Fourteen Stones, 1977 Stone installation, 366 x 366 cm. Courtesy of the Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London. © Richard Long, DACS. All rights reserved, 2013
At first glance, Melanie Manchot’s work shows us what might be a demonstration, a procession or a parade in the centre of Hamburg. The differences between the three, though seldom observed, are crucial. The historian David Cannadine has observed that when the French “put their social structures on public display they have parades (which are intrinsically egalitarian), whereas the British have processions (which are innately hierarchical)”. Demonstrations can be either hierarchical or not but, unlike the other two categories, are impossible to fully impose order on. In ‘Walk (Square)’, a thousand children flock into Hamburg’s central square – with “art as the ‘pied piper’”, as she puts it. Once inside the square, the children undertake what Manchot calls a “simple walking choreography” based on the Bruce Nauman work ‘Walking in an Exaggerated Manner Around the Perimeter of a Square’, seen elsewhere in this show. Manchot’s recreation of the earlier work in new form asks us to imagine how occupying public space has changed its meaning between ‘then’ and ‘now’. At the time of Nauman’s work, the purpose of protest was not in doubt, even if its efficacy was not universally accepted. Walking is, here, the means of occupying public space by traversing it. As Manchot puts it, “the act of walking constitutes a ‘form of speech’”. To walk – together – is in certain contexts a political act in the purest sense of the term. It is to ensure that one cannot be simply ‘walked over’ by those in positions of authority. To walk is to create “a moment of collectivity”, in the artist’s words.
Melanie Manchot Walk (Square), 2011 High-definition video, Stereo Sound. Dimension variable. Courtesy of the Artist and Galerie m Bochum, Germany.
‘Search’, by Pat Naldi and Wendy Kirkup, consists of silent video footage documenting a synchronised walk undertaken by the artists in the city centre of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1993. It was the first commissioned project undertaken by Locus+ and was part of the 2nd Tyne International exhibition of Contemporary Art. ‘Search’ was recorded on the thenbrand-new 16-camera surveillance system run by Northumbria Police, and the resultant footage was given to the artists who edited it into twenty 10-second sequences that were then transmitted unannounced during the commercial breaks on Tyne Tees Television between 21 June and 4 July 1993. Naldi and Kirkup no longer work collaboratively but maintain active art practices using video, new technologies and performance. Naldi explains that her current research is multidisciplinary, encompassing moving and still image, conference presentations and published writing that examines the impact of new technologies’ formulation and representation of a new global cultural space on our perceptive experience and the way we relate to place. ‘The View from Above’ (2013), for instance, is an urban and rural aerial video journey featuring footage of the view of the terrain below from two hot-air balloons. Kirkup’s current work uses both drawing and film-making practices to explore ways in which these predominantly visual mediums may also offer ways of touching, and being in touch with, the materiality of our everyday experience of the world. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh.
PAT NALDI & WENDY KIRKUP
Pat Naldi & Wendy Kirkup Search, 1993 © The Locus+ Archive / The artists. www.locusplus.org.uk
In the late 1960s, Bruce Nauman created a number of performance works for camera, using only his own body, the space of his studio and what were then the first video cameras available. His performances stretched what was acceptable in terms of the duration expected of the performer and the audience. Several involve the artist undertaking the simplest of actions like walking in the most unlikely or highly stylised ways. Nauman behaves as though he had been “programmed to perform this pedestrian ballet without end”, as Paul Garcia puts it. The work is as unlike a conventional film as possible, and Nauman’s gait is as unlike yours or mine as possible. ‘Walking’, as the most rudimentary, essential and yet characteristically personal human action – as our own signature of movement – is transformed into something banal yet balletic, comical yet sinister, preposterous yet oddly moving. To walk is, after all, simply to repeat an action ad infinitum: to place one foot ahead of the other. The sheer banality of the act, when removed from a poetic or politicized landscape, becomes the source of meaning for the work. The title describes literally what happens in it. The camera functions only as a blank recording device, stripped of effect. The setting is of no consequence, and the actions of no intrinsic heroic value. Nauman teases unexpected meanings from what can, at first glance, seem like the most bizarre or banal premise.
Bruce Nauman Walking in an Exaggerated Manner Around The Perimeter of a Square, 1967–68 Video. Courtesy of the Artist and EAI. © 2013 Bruce Nauman/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and DACS, London.
‘Summer’ might be described as a Platonic idea of what ‘a walk in the park’ looks like – though crucially, not what it feels like. ‘Summer’ gives life to an idea that millions share and can instantly identify – but which few could articulate. Stripping the image of all ‘incidental’ referents or particulars means this is a no-place: a universalized parkland that could be almost anywhere in Europe. The process allows each of us to tie our own mental images to it. Opie explores the overlap between the universalizing modern visual language of pictograms and the philosophical tradition of ‘idealism’ that stems from Plato. This latter suggests that each of us carries around an image of each mental category or idea. Ideas, in other words, determine what we perceive, and our ideas are an abstracted ‘composite’ of our experience of objects. ‘Summer’ is, then, the image of a walk in our ‘mind’s eye’. Yet it deliberately denies us the ‘feeling’ of being in the ‘great outdoors’. Indeed the traditional pleasures offered by a walk – such as identifying particular flora and fauna on one’s journey, or of scanning the landscape for unexpected incidental details – are imaginatively blocked, and they feel to be positively mocked. Nothing here is, or ever could be, real – nor could be felt to be. The possibility of evoking wind, weather, and movement, is foreclosed, so that we are transported only into the ‘forest of signs’ inside our own heads, rather than into a wilderness offering consolation or respite.
Julian Opie Summer. 2012 Continuous computer animation on 55” LCD screen. Ed. 4/4. Soundtrack by Paul Englishby, sung by Aniela Opie. © Julian Opie, courtesy of the Artist.
plan b is the name that Sophia New and Daniel Belasco Rogers take when working collaboratively as artists. They are amongst the leading figures to engage with GPS technologies since their widespread availability over the last decade or more. Their practice is based on both walking and on data collection including, most notably, their GPS traces. Rogers has tracked every single one of his journeys for a whole decade. New has done the same since 2007. On several occasions they have exhibited an entire year’s worth of traces in one space, effectively making every action they take become public knowledge. Such actions present ethical problems for us, as much as for the artists. The viewer becomes privy to the artist’s habits and, hence, inner life. If information about apparently innocuous activity such as walking through one’s own city can be timed, monitored and recorded by an artist, such information can easily be known by technology providers and sold to others. Those who might want to observe, redirect, restrict or control our behaviour have new ways of doing so. Most recently, plan b have engraved a whole year’s worth of GPS data onto a transparent acrylic sheet. The journeys that they routinely or repeatedly undertake are ‘dug’ out of the material in an almost archaeological manner. Their habits and ways of inhabiting the city are simultaneously made both monumental and as ghost-like traces.
plan b All GPS traces in Berlin in 2011-2012 Laser engraved acrylic. Two parts 59.4 x 42 x 1 cm each. Courtesy of the Artists.
Ingrid Pollard has examined the politics of place and, specifically, the organisation and ownership of the English landscape, for nearly four decades. Pollard’s most recent work has been created during a year-long residency at VARC (Visual Arts in Rural Communities) in Northumberland. In her work to date, Pollard’s deployment of the traditional genres of painting and photography has allowed her to explore the long history of representations – in every sense of that term. Representations are accepted social ideas or, at their most insidious, ‘received wisdom’ – that which is simply believed to be beyond argument, let alone reproach. Pollard’s interventions into physical landscapes invite us to see them as inevitably contested cultural spaces rather than as ‘natural’ in their make-up or in the meanings attached to them. Walking, for Pollard, is the means to make a new narrative by which we can re-read ourselves as a community. There is no community in which spatial and social difference are not linked: to walk is, potentially, to move between one way of thinking and another.
Ingrid Pollard Wordsworth Heritage, 2007 Pigment inkjet print, 297 x 420 mm. Courtesy of the Artist.
Dr Julian Ageyman & Ingrid Pollard, billboard, London 1994
Simon Pope’s work has been central to the way in which walking as a method of art production has been rethought in recent years. Pope has remarked that “My recent work has focused on walking as a model for processes of dialogue and negotiation”. He views walking as analogous to the processes of what might be called ‘togetherness’, and describes his work as fundamentally “dialogic”. To create ‘A Common Third’, Pope undertook walks with invited guests to places that neither he nor his collaborator knew beforehand. Accordingly, both were required to take decisions spontaneously and to negotiate what route and course of action to take. Pope’s work presents audio recordings made later by the participants about the process – about the mental pathways taken as much as the literal ones. The romantic tradition of walking often refers to solitariness and less often to walking as a form of sociability. Pope examines how relationships, including power relationships, determine or structure our experience and expectations of landscape. His works are experiments in discovering how we approach walking, and what we expect from it. In ‘A Common Third’, he draws our attention to the ways in which law, cultural practice and tradition impact on us – challenging the ahistorical, asocial idea of walking offering a realm of infinite liberty that supposedly sits in contrasts to urban experience.
Simon Pope A Common Third (With Hayden Lorimer), 2010 Audio recording speakers & stands. Courtesy of the Artist.
Rachel Reupke’s video ‘Infrastructure’ sees a lone heroine, and a pair of heroic runaways, struggle on foot through what initially appears as a militarized landscape. The figures seem to desperately flee from the scene towards an airport, past a railway, next to a serpentine motorway that nestles inside a forested Alpine landscape, and a ferry port. Reupke’s early work is structured as a journey in four parts, or four miniature journeys. The work is set in an Alpine landscape, in which the four sections reflect the four modern means of escape. Each landscape seems to insist on our need for speed and efficiency. But these modern means of travel avoid the need to experience the world directly. The miniature human figures are contrasted to both the sublime landscape – a walker’s paradise – and to the sublime technological achievements of keeping humanity in perpetual motion by road, rail, sea and air. In contrast to the commanding views experienced by, say, Caspar David Friedrich’s lone heroes, the figures here are pedestrians who seem fragile or lost. Their stories are all but lost amongst an endless flow of traffic. We might speculatively imagine that, given their evident desperation, these figures are wilful escapees from the modern world and its obsession with vehicles. Have they been prisoners of technology and unilaterally elected to flee in order to return to feeling the weight of earth underfoot? Reupke leaves it to us to decide which has more romance: the lure of sleek vehicles skimming over seas and skies, or locomotion conducted solely through the power of our own muscles.
Rachel Reupke Infrastructure, 2002 Standard-definition video. Duration: 14 minutes. Courtesy LUX, London.
Tim Robinson is the alter ego of artist Timothy Drever whose abstract paintings and environmental installations were seen in a number of exhibitions in London before he moved to the west of Ireland in 1972. Robinson originally studied mathematics at Cambridge and worked as a teacher and artist in Istanbul, Vienna and London. He and his wife, Máiréad, now live in Roundstone in Connemara, where, in 1984, they established Folding Landscapes, a specialist publishing house and information resource centre dealing with three areas of particular interest around Galway Bay: the Aran Islands, the Burren and Connemara. The maps and accompanying books are beautifully drawn and meticulously researched, explaining, often for the first time, the derivation and meaning of hundreds of place names and representing a wide range of information about the region’s culture and landscapes. Robinson has gained much of this information literally on the ground, walking with naturalists, historians, archaeologists and other specialist through the landscape. His maps and books provide an invaluable guide for visitors to the region as well as nourishing community spirit by identifying the irreplaceable uniqueness of the local environment and history. Tim and Máiréad also run Unfolding Ideas, an annual Colloquium Series for scholars, educators and artists to engage in public talks, small group discussion and workshops in Roundstone, Connemara.
Tim Robinson Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage, 1990. Pages from the chapter ‘Timescape with Signpost’, from Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage (London: Penguin).
Tim Robinson Oilerin Arann, a map of the Aran Islands, Co. Galway, Eire, 1996 Folding Landscapes. Compiled and drawn by Tim Robinson and published by Folding Landscapes.
Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir & Mark Wilson conduct their collaborative practice from bases in the north of England, Iceland and Gothenburg, Sweden. They explain that “their practice sets out to challenge and deconstruct notions of wilderness”. Underpinning much of what they do and make “are issues of psychological and physical displacement or realignment in relation to land and environment and the effect these have on cultural perspectives”. They describe wilderness as “a human concept defining amongst other things a world ‘beyond’ our control or even ‘understanding’. It is the bracketing of a physical space in the larger context of a belief in human supremacy”. And they explain that “our lack of engagement with environment is demonstrated by our dependence on being insulated from it”. In Home, they challenged this statement directly, placing themselves at the ‘mercy’ of the elements whilst undertaking a ten-day walking expedition through the remote landscapes of the north of Iceland. In consistently misty conditions they had to rely on a mix of basic technology (a 1:100,000 scale map) and, increasingly, their own instincts to guide them through this rugged terrain. In such an environment, ‘home comforts’ are, indeed, relative – and clearly the most reassuring ‘things’ seen each day were the man-made cairns that continued to guide them ‘home’, and which are the focus of the exquisite photographs in Home.
BRYNDÍS SNÆBJÖRNSDÓTTIR & MARK WILSON
Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir & Mark Wilson Home, 1999 Printed in an edition of 200 for Gallerí Slúnkaríki and published by Mark Wilson.
Thompson has described his work as being “topographical in nature” – concerned with how places become known, understood, named and described. He is interested in the different ways in which we measure, describe and figure the land, and how his experience of walking through a landscape can be re-imagined through sculpture. He uses a mixture of traditional craft skills allied to new technologies. His works ask us to imagine the formation of landscapes over a long timescale and explores the two- and three-dimensional forms and shapes associated with (amongst other things) walking through a site in order to map it and to unearth its history. Thompson’s walks, recorded through GPS tracking or tracings from maps and aerial photographs, become the ‘line’ of the walks and the starting point of the sculptures and prints. These ‘lines’ are cut usually by hand and often in wood, with each layer becoming the template for the succeeding layer. Through small increments of size the sculptures evolve, tapering downward from top to base, incorporating errors and corrections; marking layer upon layer, in geological fashion, the history of their making. Sometimes these become ‘patterns’ for fabrication in materials and colours directly relevant to the location or simply have ‘come to mind’ when he makes the walks. The work seen here combines forms alluding to archaeological and geological understandings of place, and to the imagined objectivity provided by Ordnance Survey mapping. Thompson notes of his three-dimensional works that “the sculptures serve as diaries, records, memories, souvenirs or trophies – celebrations of experiences of particular places”.
Brian Thompson River Wear, 2012 Float glass. 16.4 x 17.4 x 6.5 cm. Courtesy of the Artist.
Brian Thompson Sun Gate at Machu Picchu, 2012 Gilded oak. 15.8 x 9.8 x 4 cm. Courtesy of the Artist.
Brian Thompson On the Narrow Road, Japan, 2012 Porcelain. Yudaki Falls (with MC 3.7.2011); 14.7 x 12.3 x 4.1 cm / Kurobane (with MC 2.7.2011); 23 x 10.7 x 4 cm / Visit to Mr Hase (with MC 1.7.2011); 9.8 x 14.5 x 5 cm. Courtesy of the Artist.
Brian Thompson Helvellyn by Striding Edge, 2012 Oak. 21.2 x 16 x 4.5 cm. Courtesy of the Artist.
Brian Thompson Grasmere Round, 2012 Graphite and print on wood 20 x 19 x 13.2 cm. Courtesy of the Artist.
Burton, Korda and Qualmann remark that their collaborative project ‘walkwalkwalk’ “is a participatory live art event, with a walk at its core, beginning with an exploration of urban routine”. The trio have systematically mapped their walking routes around the eastern parts of London. Remaking “the narrative of pathways afresh” is their stated aim, and the three artists consciously draw upon predecessors and precedents from near and far. The group share information about how they have each navigated the city. The city, here, is a text which they “read”. Artefacts, anecdotes, images and sounds are the individual subjects of their research. For ‘Walk On’, the artists present interventions they have made into public space: specifically, text works created as flyposters from stories harvested on their routes, which are then placed strategically along those very routes, along with ‘Walk Finds’, a collection of found objects collected on the walks.
walkwalkwalk From the project ‘walkwalkwalk: an archaeology of the familiar and the forgotten’, 2005 – 2010 Flyposters, 841 x 594 mm. Courtesy of walkwalkwalk.
walkwalkwalk WALK Finds, 2005 – 2010 Selection of found objects, dimensions variable.
Richard Wentworth’s walks allow him to make accidental discoveries of inadvertent creativity. The ongoing series ‘Making Do and Getting By’ is the product of the artist’s walks into the city where he lives, and into those he visits and in which he works. The series documents chance findings on the street, where ordinary people have hastily manipulated objects to solve a pressing practical problem. The series is, then, a record of Wentworth’s journeys into the world, undertaken with a sculptor’s eye and an anthropologist’s view of material culture. In each instance, necessity is the mother of invention. The combinations of things echo his own three-dimensional practice, which is based on transforming everyday objects through small alterations or juxtapositions. Objects’ ordinary associations and meanings are thrown into doubt and new ones proposed. Wentworth’s walking is a means to discover new ways of perceiving the world, and to discover how ‘everyday’ creativity suffuses the world. For Wentworth, one aim has been to give the gallery the same “level of arbitrary content as the street has”. The medium of photography provides Wentworth with the power to document his own chance encounters with objects that have themselves been subject to chance encounters.
Richard Wentworth Thus, 2009 Wood and glass, dimensions variable, ed. unique. Courtesy of the Artist & Lisson Gallery, London.
Richard Wentworth Caledonian Road, London, 2006 C print. 48 x 31.6 cm. © the Artist; Courtesy of the Lisson Gallery, London.
Jeremy Wood describes himself as “an artist and mapmaker”, and was one of the first artists to make use of GPS technologies creatively. These technologies have allowed him to trace his daily movements and to present a personal cartography. “Most GPS receivers record your whereabouts as a track, like a dot-to-dot or a digital breadcrumb trail. When the line is viewed on its own, you have a GPS drawing”, the artist says. ‘White Horse Hill’ is a scaled cardboard representation of forty-three kilometers of GPS tracks of methodical walks over the area round White Horse Hill in Uffington, Oxfordshire. The walking was informed by the making; a forty kilometre walk at 1:1 scale was translated into forty metres of card at 1:1000 scale. There were limitations; the walk had to achieve a certain density of tracks to capture the intricacy of the terrain, and no paths were to cross. “We cannot know where we are on the ground without first looking up at the stars. The horse from the Bronze Age was made to be seen from the heavens and with Space Age navigation the heavens are used to see where we are. We don’t know why the figure of a horse was created, for a viewpoint unachievable then. And most of us don’t know how GPS works with orbiting satellites to tell us where we are now. The Uffington White Horse was chosen as a location for its wondrous communication between the ground and the sky; a relationship it has in common with the magical properties of satellite navigation technology.” (Jeremy Wood)
Jeremy Wood White Horse Hill, 2002 1:1000 scale GPS model. Courtesy of the Artist.
Wrights & Sites are a group of artists and researchers whose collaborative work is focused on their relationships to walking, cities and landscape. The group was founded in 1997 by Stephen Hodge, Simon Persighetti, Phil Smith and Cathy Turner. They argue that “walking and exploring the everyday remains at the heart of all we do. What we make seeks to facilitate walker-artists, walker-makers and everyday pedestrians to become partners in ascribing significance to place. We employ disrupted walking strategies as tools for playful debate, collaboration, intervention and spatial meaningmaking. Our work, like walking, is intended to be porous”. Walking is accompanied by “dramaturgical strategies” – i.e. the outcomes of their works are often site-specific performances. Their ‘Mis-guide to Anywhere’ is, they claim, “a utopian project for the recasting of a bitter world by disrupted walking”. Their work “links the tangible and the imagined” and is a form of “serious play”. It is an activity in which the role of the artist “might become that of guide, or misguide, rather than the narrator or interpreter of a particular place”. Wrights & Sites make use of the intellectual toolbox associated with the canon of writing about the role of ‘the flâneur’, in order to arm us for a consumerized and militarized world. Wrights & Sites observe that in this strange era of the twenty-first century, to go walking in many parts of the world, from war zones like Afghanistan through to most British city centres, is to be under continual surveillance.
WRIGHTS & SITES
Wrights & Sites (Stephen Hodge, Simon Persghetti, Phil Smith and Cathy Turner, with design by Tony Weaver) A Mis-Guide to Anywhere, 2006 Published provocations. Courtesy of the Artists.
‘The dream of reaching the sky is also a modernist dream of cities in the air, inspired by a utopian belief in progress.’ Catherine Yass Presented in the Berwick Gymnasium is the multi-channel video installation High Wire (2008) by acclaimed British artist Catherine Yass. The work follows the French high-wire artist Didier Pasquette, who was invited by Yass to walk a wire strung between two towers on the Red Road Estate in Glasgow. Stepping out between what were once the highest social housing blocks in all of Europe, Pasquette offers us the ultimate vertiginous perspective. Situated beneath the town walls, the Gymnasium allows visitors to look out at people walking along Berwick’s ramparts – a visual rhyme to the figure Of Pasquette, walking across the screens within the gallery. ‘High Wire’ is shown with thanks to, and with generous support from, the artist and Artangel, who commissioned the work with Glasgow International Festival of Contemporary Visual Art in 2007. The exhibition is organised in collaboration with, and with thanks to, Berwick Visual Arts.
Catherine Yass High Wire, 2008 Photo by Catherine Yass. Courtesy of the Artangel Collection.
Carey Young’s series ‘Body Techniques’ recreates several works from the canon of performance art from the late 1960s and early 1970s, including pieces by Richard Long, Bruce Nauman, Dennis Oppenheim, and Valie Export. Many of these earlier-generation artists undertook their projects by walking into a public space to create a kind of experiment (or, in Nauman’s case, conducting an experiment by walking around the space of his studio). Long’s ‘Line in Ireland’ offers the viewer a point of entry into a quintessentially romantic wilderness, free of people. The art of the late 1960s often negated the idea of the art object as a luxury commodity by focusing on performance or the artist’s own body, on process rather than product, or on using natural or basic materials. Carey’s image inverts such binary terms, with some ironies. Her work, like Long’s, shows a place that seems uninhabited. Yet Young’s work also inverts the attitudes associating walking with unfettered liberty, heroic (male) creativity and boundless natural landscapes. She suggests that such concepts are escapist fictions: her uniform of a business suit implies that the world we live in is one where art, money and big business are more entangled than ever. Creativity and capital are unavoidably intertwined, rather than separable: we cannot ‘walk out’ of either. In her work, no space – conceptual or physical – escapes the process of commodification. ‘Body Techniques’ is accordingly set in Dubai: a place seemingly emblematic of twenty-first century capitalism where almost nobody travels by foot. The gargantuan tower blocks in the background, created with petro-dollars, ensure that walking, and the pleasures and chance encounters of perambulation, have been abolished.
Carey Young Body techniques (after A Line in Ireland, Richard Long, 1974), 2007 Photograph, colour, on paper mounted onto aluminium, 1219 x 1518 mm. Presented by Tate Patrons 2009. © Carey Young. Courtesy of Paula Cooper Gallery, New York.
Installation shot: Walk On, PM Gallery & House, March 2013 Featuring works by (left to right): Richard Wentworth, Julian Opie, Mike Collier. On floor: Richard Long.
26 March–5 May PM Gallery and House Walpole Park Mattock Lane London W5 5EQ +44 (0)208 567 1227 www.ealing.gov.uk/pmgalleryandhouse
8 February–31 March mac birmingham Cannon Hill Park Birmingham B12 9QH +44 (0)121 446 3232 www.macarts.co.uk
1 June–31 August Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art City Library and Arts Centre Fawcett Street Sunderland SR1 1RE +44 (0)191 561 1235 www.ngca.co.uk
12 April–9 August The Atkinson, Southport Lord Street Southport PR8 1DB +44 (0)1704 533 333 www.theatkinson.co.uk 19 September–12 December Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery Drake Circus Plymouth PL4 8AJ +44 (0)1752 304 774 www.plymouthmuseum.gov.uk
Walk On: From Richard Long to Janet Cardiff – 40 Years of Art Walking is a touring exhibition produced and toured by Art Circuit Touring Exhibitions. Curated by Cynthia Morrison-Bell, Mike Collier and Alistair Robinson with the assistance of Janet Ross.
TOUR DATES PAGE—133
Art Circuit Touring Exhibitions 28 Batoum Gardens London W67QD +44 (0)207 610 4865 firstname.lastname@example.org www.art-circuit-org.uk
ISBN 978-1-906832-08-7 01495
Published on May 30, 2013
Published on May 30, 2013
From Richard Long to Janet Cardiff - 40 years of Art Walking This publication accompanies the WALK-ON art exhibition. Walk On brings togeth...