“Walking forward, looking back is a practice-based project utilizing a journey through the landscape. Artist Carol Maurer walks from her ancestral home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland through Delaware to Chester County PA, collecting stories, photos, memories and objects along the route. Rediscovering histories – both true and false. The journey began as a way to experientially confront her responsibility as a descendant of enslavers and slowly weaves into a meditation on the time, tempos, conversations and understandings walking can make space for.” (credit)
“Sebastián Díaz Morales (1975-), Pasajes IV, Digital video / HD format / 22’40 min on 5:30 hs loop / 2013, 32’’ monitor; Character: Maya Watanabe
This idea follows the same narrative, concept and structure as of former Pasajes video series.
In the so far three Pasajes video works a similar formula repeats on different backdrops: a character unites places through gateways, doors, stairs and roads which would be naturally disconnected from each other. This is the geography of a story expressed in an alteration to the normal, which so far aroused from a montage of urban spaces.
In this proposed formulation of Pasajes the video explores the landscape of Patagonia.
Crisscrossing this territory in the search of the differences on the landscape, a character as a guide, unites different territories disconnected in its geography, as essential pieces of a puzzle to understand this region’s present.” (credit)
“The ghillie suit is traditionally used by military snipers and hunters to camouflage the human body, allowing the wearer to blend into various natural landscapes. Sight Unseen: An Un-camouflaging at Guildwood was part of a series that repositioned the ghillie suit in the open air of suburban space and areas slated for development.
For Restless Precinct, I created a series of “un-camouflagings” in Guildwood Park in partnership with the Community Arts Guild Youth Theatre Troupe, an offshoot of Jumblies Theatre. The project evolved over six weeks, exploring concepts of visibility and belonging through our relationship and engagements with nature and each other. Participants learned how to create their ghillie suits, and together we developed movements in response to the site. Guildwood Park (now Guild Park and Gardens) contains over seventy architectural fragments and edifices. The research revealed that the park was once the location of Bytown II, a military training base for radio operators in the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service during World War II. A custom camouflage headpiece was created for a sculpture entitled Musidora (artist unknown) and installed for the duration of the exhibition. This work was a gesture toward acknowledging the invisibility of bodies, histories and contributions at Guildwood Park, including a site specific work created by Ana Mendieta. The culminating performance took place as part of Restless Precinct’s opening events.”
Guildwood is a sculptural sanctuary park in Toronto and has beautiful gardens.
“On November 15, 2015, more than thirty people, including artists, adventure racers, casual joggers, track champions, walkers and other members of the general public, ran from Old Mill subway station in Toronto to Sherbourne subway station, following four major urban watersheds. The route followed the Humber River from Bloor Street to the Black Creek, crossed the North York hydro corridor north of Finch Avenue, joined the West Don River and followed the main artery of the Don River to the finish at Bloor Street, passing under Highway 401 twice. Covering fifty-five km in total, the route took more than 9 hours and almost entirely followed riverbanks and ravine trails. Two people finished the entire distance.”
Credit: Morrell, Amish and Diane Borsato. Outdoor School: Contemporary Environmental Art. Douglas and McINtyre, 2021. Page 62.
“Toronto’s ravine system provides city-dwellers with an urban oasis that’s not often explored. But on Sunday, a small group of Torontonians will run a day-long marathon through these expansive green spaces.
Organizer Amish Morrell, who’s the editor of C Magazine, says these runs aren’t competitive. “It’s not a race at all, it’s really an adventure.”
Morrell notes that his friend and performance artist Henri FabergĂŠ started doing conceptual running routes a few years ago. Together, along with artist Jon McCurley, they ran from Kipling to Kennedy (35 kilometres above ground).
About a year ago, Morrell mapped out a marathon route through Toronto ravines – areas that he regularly explores and runs through. He even cross-country skies the ravines in the wintertime. “A lot of this kind of evolved out of finding different ways of moving through the city,” he says.
For Sunday, he’s planned a 55 kilometre trek between the Black Creek, Finch Hydro Corridor and Don River sections of the ravine. “I would say 90 per cent of it is trail in the ravines and about 50 per cent of that is totally kind of secret, clandestine paths,” though Morrell stresses that the event may not be for everyone.
“It’s a pretty DIY, kind of punk event,” he says. Anyone who decides to join needs to be well-prepared with proper equipment and supplies – a detailed list can be found on the Epic Ravine Marathon Facebook page.
And, don’t expect a timed race. “Our motivations are more about exploration, curiosity, discovering places and learning things about them,” says Morrell. He knows the distance may be daunting and expects many of those who join his small group will tag along for the first 10 to 15 kilometres.
Morrell says that while most of the route is accessible via the TTC, being the in the ravines provides an alternate way to view Toronto. “It totally shifts and transforms your experience of the city.”
“I am connected to the Murray and the Darling River systems through my Barkindji family, and since 2000 I have been documenting the backwaters and inland lake systems in the Riverland of South Australia. I have found many ‘signs’ in the landscape, Aboriginal artefacts and trees that bear witness to Aboriginal occupation and reflect the connection people have had with this place over many tens of thousands of years.
Everywhere I walk I see evidence of Aboriginal occupation prior to European settlement. I find remnants of flints and grindstones that were used to manufacture stone tools and to grind native seeds and grains. Bark was removed from the outer layers of eucalypt trees to create canoes and coolamons – vessels used to carry food and small babies. The scars left in the trees act like street signs, indicating areas of abundance and safe shelter. I get the strong sense that the ancestors had only just gone, leaving subtle calling cards to let me know how important these sites are for them.
Using a medium format film camera slows my pace. Spending as much time as I can in the environment, and speaking with cultural custodians to get a true sense of place are significant steps in my process”
(credit: Catalog, “From Here to There: Australian Art and Walking”)
“For “Mile Long Drawing” (1968), the artist chalked two parallel lines 12 feet apart for the length of a mile in the Mojave Desert in California. This was one of his first land art pieces which saw him transport his minimalist ideas from the gallery to the outdoors. Obviously, the markings didn’t last long as they were drawn with chalk, and so the temporary nature of the work draws attention to the passing of time and the idea is that change is constant.” [credit]
Patriciat Johanson (1940-)
“…functions almost like a piece of the landscape—continually reflecting the changes going on around it. 1600-feet long and painted red, yellow, and blue… at times the entire spectrum was visible due to optical mixing along the borders, and the painted colors were constantly in flux due to changes in the color of natural light. At sunset, for example, when red light was falling on the sculpture the blue stripe turned to violet, the yellow stripe to orange. Because the space-projection literally went beyond the field of vision, movement and aerial views also became particularly important.” – © Patricia Johanson, “A Selected Retrospective, 1969-1973”, Bennington College, Vermont, 1973 [credit]
“Inspired by the enormous canvases of the Abstract Expressionists, Johanson created huge sculptures such as Stephen Long (1968) which went beyond the field of vision and interacted with the environment. ” [credit]
“Six photographs of unremarkable industrial landscapes in Passaic, New Jersey depict evidence of man-made history, yet the title of “monument” seems ironic. Stripped of any apparent artistic agenda, the images appear photojournalistic—without an accompanying news article to inform our perception. Smithson was perpetually intrigued by suburbia; in its sameness he saw a version of eternity defined by formal repetition rather than temporal longevity. By framing the mundane sites as “monuments,” Smithson challenges the conceptions of aesthetic merit and historical significance. Monuments of Passaic exists as three manifestations: a published article in Artforum, a photowork, and a photographic series.” [credit]
He drew further attention to site-specificity and the passage of time via his walk along the river and industrial sites.
Video (19:24 minutes)
Turkey feathers, monofilament, steel
Original sound track by Michael J. Schumacher
132 × 168 × 12 inches
Artist Alan Michelson (1953-, Mohawk) has created various works that involve filming from a steady-moving boat, documenting environmental degradation, including Mespat (2001). His use of a boat to create the work might not immediately feel linked to walking as artistic practice, but keeping an inclusive mindset about various modes of mobility, this work very much embodies the contemplative qualities of many other environmentally focused walking works as Michelson slowly brings the viewer through the blighted landscape. The work documents nearly twenty minutes of industrial ruin along the banks of Newtown Creek, an estuary dividing Brooklyn and Queens in New York. This footage is projected on a carefully constructed screen of white turkey feathers, a visual gesture reminding the viewer of the erasure of Indigenous bodies and ways of knowing, in a space where the native Lenape people were eventually displaced in 1642.
(Morris, Kate. Shifting Grounds: Landscape in Contemporary Native American Art. University of Washington Press, 2019. Page 89.)
“I have always loved walking by the sea and was increasingly disturbed by the amount of plastic I was finding washed up on the beach. But in 2006, the United Nations Environment Programme reported that humankind’s exploitation of the oceans was ‘rapidly passing the point of no return’ and I was really shocked to discover that they estimated that on average there were around 46,000 pieces of plastic litter floating on every square mile of ocean, leading to the death of over one million seabirds and over 100,000 marine mammals every year due to entanglement with or swallowing of litter.
We now know that over 12 million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans every year, travelling on ocean currents to every part of the globe. These plastics endure in the marine environment indefinitely: items from the birth of plastics are washing up on our shores, virtually unscathed. Scientists estimate that plastic can take 1000 years or more to degrade in seawater and even then will continue to pollute our environment with thousands of microscopic fibres: samples taken from a Northumbrian beach were found to have over 10,000 fibres in just one litre of sand… But disposal of plastics in our oceans isn’t just harming wildlife now. We are also providing a toxic legacy that may last an eternity. Moreover, plastics can be found throughout the food chain, even ending up in the food on our plates.
plastics, like diamonds, are forever…
I was so shocked by what I had learned, I felt I had to do something and resolved to ‘save’ one square mile of ocean by collecting 46000 pieces of litter whilst walking on the beaches near my home. Every time I visited the beach I picked up all the litter I could carry. My challenge took exactly a year to achieve (September 2006 – September 2007) and in total I walked over 200kms and carried away nearly a third of a tonne of rubbish.
But sadly my challenge will never really be complete. Scientists estimate that the amount of plastic in the sea is increasing at a rapid rate, doubling every 2 or 3 years. I’m still collecting (I can’t stop!). But this could be a lifetime’s work and I still might not save a single square mile of sea…
My efforts may only be a literal splash in the ocean compared to the immensity of the problems are seas are facing. But what if everyone tried to do something about it? Luckily there is a lot more we can do – have a look here at the things we can all do…
Whilst walking, I took photographs and created a book of what I saw, contrasting the seemingly unspoilt beauty of the landscape with the man-made debris which inhabits it.
See my photographs in sequence from the beginning of my challenge.
To see specific locations, click the following links:
Aldeburgh – Bawdsey – Covehythe – Dunwich – Felixstowe – Orford Ness – Shingle Street – Sizewell – Southwold – Thorpeness – Walberswick
I have saved and photographed nearly everything from my walks.
See some of my collections.
The plastics I have collected have become my materials: I create huge installations with what I have found, ‘recycling’ it as art with potent message, playful but deadly serious.
See photographs from some of my exhibitions.“