The Art of Walking
In the Intelligent Life magazine there is this series the big question where they invite various authors to share thoughts on numerous issues. In one of the latest issues they were considering what the best way to travel is and Colin Thubron answered WALKING: ‘The choice to travel on foot is a transforming one. The unharried pace brings a sense of things restored to their natural proportions. Time slows down and geography stretches out. The detail of the land – its small topographical changes, its chance noises and scents – become more potent and absorbing.’ Thubron also mentions that a curious relationship between walking and thinking has been remarked – the rhythm of the body seems to free the mind. Well, I guess we all experienced walking in a rhythmic pace, whether in a park or across the city centre, that made us feel kind of lighter. But walking can be so much more than this!
‘The Art of Walking’ edited by David Evans and published by Black Dog Publishing looks into contemporary artworks dealing with walking. It’s interesting to see how such a simple activity can be transformed into work of art and create so many as ephemeral as meaningful artistic actions. To feature them in a book is definitely a challenge but it’s a great idea to explore this original topic, which has been marginalised for some time, from many angles in one volume.
All chapters are walks – each focuses on another approach, subject, set of artists showing different aspects of art and walking - walking in a city, walking in relation to institutions that constitute the art world, walking inspired by everyday activities like walking a dog, walking as marching etc. Some works are known from other publications but there are also many surprising ones, in the same time a mix of older and more contemporary pieces – amongst others by Bruce Nauman, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Mona Hatoum, Simon Faithfull, Janet Cardiff, Francis Alÿs or Oleg Kulik. Documentations of works include images (very good selection and editing!), short descriptions, in some cases sketches or the artists’ statements.
The idea behind this publication was also to blur the usual distinction between an exhibition and its catalogue – ‘written commentary and documentation are both included, but the emphasis is on picture editing that acknowledges the proximity of the pages of a book and the walls of the museum.’ Nicely executed and, according to the authors’ wish, also stimulating! Another great element is a handy format and original layout (I love rounded corners and the feel of the paper selected for this publication which is btw recyclable!*). The very last pages are several blank ones for NOTES to take after inspired by the book you will invent some walking activities yourself. As said in the introduction – ‘The Art of Walking aims to encourage readers to get up and got into the field’, so what are you waiting for?
‘The Art of Walking’, edited by David Evans, Black Dog Publishing
* Black Dog Publishing is an environmentally responsible company and prints on sustainably sourced paper!