Walking the City
Is it not truly extraordinary to realise that ever since men have walked, no-one has ever asked why they walk, how they walk, whether they walk, whether they might walk better, what they achieve by walking, whether they might not have the means to regulate, change or analyse their walk: questions that bear on all the systems of philosophy, psychology and politics with which the world is preoccupied?
Honoré de Balzac
The most normal and inconspicuous practice performed in a city is walking. But how one walks through the city is never the same – and may even differ from city to city. In any case walking transforms every street in a stage which one enters and leaves. Every city has it’s pace and it´s manner of walking, even if this may not be sensed in every street. There are no rules that instruct these particularities – each pedestrian is simply affected by the rhythm of the steps of the others. Rhythms, states the economic theorist Karl Bücher already in the early 20th century, is the strongest means to foster processes of learning and to create coherence within a group of people. So the gait is shaped by mimetical imitation and gradually becomes a part of the unconscious, mute body knowledge which rules our every day life actions.
Walking in the City invites the inhabitants of the city to listen to an audio play, which adresses the unconsciousness of walking the city. A kind of inner movie tells a new story of the street. At the same time, the listeners constitute a strange collective. They are not walking together as a group but are dispersed: Independent yet synchronized, listening yet acting, invisible yet producing an uncanny situation, already when they all stop at the same time, pause for a moment and then start walking again. The most normal and inconspicuous practice becomes anormal and suspicious. Thus the audience can change the street scene without exposing themselves as participants of an artistic intervention into the everyday life just by walking a little bit faster than all the others. Following their mimetic urge, other pedestrians will get influenced unconsciously by the proliferation of a new normality, sensing that an uncanny duplication of reality is taking over. Then, during the course of the performance, more visible actions are proposed to happen, reflecting the long tradition of occupying the streets for political reasons.
in the frame of
Second Cities / Performing Cities