Walking is about being outside, in public space, and public space is also being abandoned and eroded in older cities, eclipsed by technologies and services that don’t require leaving home, and shadowed by fear in many places (and strange places are always more frightening than known ones, so the less one wanders the city the more alarming it seems, while the fewer the wanderers the more lonely and dangerous it really becomes).
Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust, Granta Publications, 2001
I work as a visual artist and my artistic practice includes paintings, installations and walks. My initial interest for walking stems from a longing for interaction between my visual work, the human body and the environment. A walk can provide new insights, generate stories and give way for a more sensitive relationship between people and their environment.The British writer Robert Macfarlane writes that ‘walking is a way of seeing the landscape and touching is a way of looking’.
In my artistic practice, walking is a medium to immediately experience physical sensations. Accompanied by ‘viewing tools’ which direct the senses by slightly shifting focus and attention, I continuously develop ways of moving differently through, around and about given spaces. By walking in an alternative mode, alone or together, automatisms can be questioned. Thoughts unfold, the body feels.
As an artist, I adopt a non-linear, associative approach – questioning semiotic systems, such as the way in which digits are used in our daily lives or how awards are given as an expression of appreciation. A common thread in my visual work is the phenomenon of the presence of absence; the presence of something that is not physically present, e.g. a man who, after years of wearing a moustache, shaves it off, the strangely empty spot on his face reminding one of what was once there. The space in which we find ourselves and which surrounds us entails a similar invisible presence:
Our gaze travels through space and gives us the illusion of relief and distance. That is how we construct space, with an up and a down, a left and a right, an in front and a behind, a near and a far. When nothing arrests our gaze, it carries a very long way. But if it meets with nothing, it sees nothing, it sees only what it meets. Space is what arrests our gaze, what our sight stumbles over: the obstacle, bricks, an angle, a vanishing point. Space is when it makes an angle, when it stops, when we have to turn for it to start off again.
Georges Perec, Species of Spaces and Other Pieces (Fr.: Espèces d’espaces), edited and translated by John Sturrock: Penguin Books Ltd, 1998