walk walk walk: an archaeology of the familiar and the forgotten

walk walk walk keeps popping up, most recently via Clare Qualmann (@ClareQualmann), involved in the Performing landscapes and identity colloquium and a member of Footwork (her latest post).

Clare worked as a materials librarian and is now a lecturer/tutor in performing arts and design:

  • walk: “as a necessity, routine walks, getting places without spending any money, walking as a freedom, as a subversive practice, and as a visual art practice”
  • art: “my work stems from an obsession with the ordinary and the unnoticed, looking for beauty in the everyday mundane…domesticity…repetitions and routine”

Stress on re-examining familiar places –  a kind of anti-derive. Particularly interested in her text works, collecting and collating words, Letters from the bank, Perambulator (and Huntly Perambulator 2014, cf being encumbered with a dog) and Darned Memory, a self guided walk on Millbank. Current project: East End Jam, which has thrown up a lot on bye laws that forbid the picking of fruit/berries. See also Where to? Falmouth, looking at the future of the Walking Artists Network, and Ways to wander (Amazon).

Collaborations include Spinning Stories and Honesty Box (hej Denmark!).

From 2005-10 Clare worked with Gail Burton and Serena Korda on walkwalkwalk, which started as a route/map and self guided walk through Bethnal Green, running regular solstice7night walks – bring something back, relook by rewalking. Walking as a way of gathering information, a research method, but also as art – other outputs (flyposters, large format texts on a screen) are products from the walk. Theories of the everyday – step aside from routine (dog) walks and re-examine the repetition, turning points and traditions.

Searching brought me to Lost Steps (see episode 14), a series of weekly radio programmes exploring lost London presented by Malcolm Hopkins (Housman’s Bookshop) and produced by Nick Hamilton (who made the Foot and Mouth series), a series of podcasts for idle listening IDC.

Here they described the project as “a participatory live art event, with a walk at its core. The project begins with an exploration of urban routine. Starting from the routes we take to and from work and home, part time jobs and friends houses, we established a methodology for the systematic exploration of the areas in and around Bethnal Green, Spitalfields and Whitechapel. Stepping outside, or aside from the absorption of the day to day in order to examine the places that we pass through and the narrative of pathways afresh.” Lots of synergies with dog walking here. Issues of the male domination of psychogeography were also discussed, touching on gender issues irt walking. Eliz Bennett in P&P!

Looks also at found objects and artefacts – the archaeology of the everyday. In March 2014 Clare led a walk finds visual arts lab, exploring how overlooked and extraordinary ‘finds’ can be uncovered in familiar places: “Searching for ‘finds’ creates a different kind of looking and being in the city – observation, scanning, close to the ground, gleaning. Which in turn leads to encounters, engagement, adventures, stories – a ‘turning over’ or examination, literally. Finding is anti-commerce – we are inculcated/necessitated to buy as a way to exist in public space – the found object is a testament to this purchasing and consumption, its trace – but also proposes a challenge to the imperative to buy and own or choose. Finding is free, is random, possibly dirty, always unregulated!”


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