Basically it is an account in photographs and text (there was also a film) of a six-day backpacking hike through the Snowmass Wilderness of Colorado. The expedition became for him “one of those short times that subjectively is greater than a lifetime.”
The Midnight Run is a registered social enterprise. Like traditional businesses we aim to make a profit but what sets us apart is that we aim to – reinvest or donate those profits towards creating positive social change.
The Midnight Run is a walking, night-time, arts-filled, cultural journey through a city and a typical Midnight ‘Runner’ has a healthy sense of adventure and seeks experiences beyond the mainstream. It is partially influenced by The Situationists – a political and artistic movement between 1957 & 1972 – started in France. Founders of the movement were tired of the commercialism of art and consumerism and wandered city streets in typical post-war bohemian fashion seeking REAL experiences.
Accordingly, The Midnight Run seeks to negate the frenzy and hysteria of mass media, pop culture, hype and reality T.V. for actual reality, for the simplicity and intimacy of walking and talking. Our idea is to reclaim the streets of a city, to dispel the idea of ‘danger after dark’ instead to ‘discover after dark’. It is to grow urban communities, situate meetings of strangers, for relationships to blossom, to inhabit the confines of glass, concrete, steel and structure as a child does a maze: with natural play and wonderment.
“During those early Midnight Runs, I’d run writing workshops and poetry exercise specific to locations we visited. After, I’d ask participants to share their writing and I noticed how it created new spaces for communication and conversation. Essentially, I stumbled across a simple way to deepen group dynamics and our appreciation and understanding of each other.”
“Over time I invited artists/activists of various disciplines to run workshops thereby widening the scope of this interaction. Artists/activists are often plugged into fascinating networks and know great spaces worth visiting for playful or aesthetic reasons. Searching for outdoors spaces to compliment their art forms made planning Midnight Run routes vastly more interesting… the artists work on several levels.” — Inua Ellams, Founder
But WHY JOIN A MIDNIGHT RUN?
50% of the world’s population live in urban environments. Despite growing population density we face issues of loneliness, depression and economic polarisation… because of global immigration and gentrification, many cities are rapidly losing their local, historical and communal identities in a land-grab for commercial space. These new paradigms favour younger, faster, richer members of societies, paradigms that are increasingly hostile to the youth and older members of societies.
The Midnight Run experience counters these issues by slowing urban life to talking, playing and creating within various urban spaces. Because the event is for one night only with strangers, participants are afforded anonymity and can attend without any danger of judgement or consequence. By inviting artists of diverse practices, we encourage participants to step out of comfort zones and exercise their creative muscle. By inviting local artists who inform the route, we ensure what is experienced on the night is specific and true to the locality, the inhabitants and their environment.
The ground-breaking idea behind the Midnight Run is a return to simplicity, to entertain without entertainment, to trust in community and conversation, to rediscover our essential creative selves.
Born in Nigeria in 1984, Inua Ellams is an internationally touring poet, playwright, performer, graphic artist & designer. He has published three pamphlets of poetry including ‘Candy Coated Unicorns and Converse All Stars’ and ‘The Wire Headed-Heathen’. His first play ‘The 14th Tale’ was awarded a Fringe First at the Edinburgh International Theatre Festival and his third, ‘Black T-Shirt Collection’ ran at England’s National Theatre. In graphic art & design (online and in print) he tries to mix the old with the new, juxtaposing texture and pigment with flat shades of colour and vector images. He lives and works from London, where he founded The Midnight Run.
Inua hails from the Hausa tribe in Northern Nigeria, a people synonymous with a nomadic tradition. The Midnight Run came from this tradition, his search for a community to belong to, the transience and transformation of travel, and a belief in the bridge-building ability of arts and artistic interaction.
The Midnight Run was found in 2005 by award winning poet and playwright Inua Ellams. In 2011 The Midnight Run embarked on a collaborative partnership with CCT-SeeCity, founded by Elena Mazzoni Wagner in Prato, Italy. This marked the beginning an expansion across Europe. To date Midnight Run events have commissioned in Manchester, London, Leeds, Milan, Firenze, Barcelona, Madrid & Auckland.
WHO WE WORK WITH.
Midnight Run events speak to themes of enhancing group communication, making different art forms accessible, supporting local artists and exploring cultural dynamics within urban environments. Events are typically commissioned by arts organisations, cultural festivals, community groups and corporate organisations. Organisations worked with include Southbank Centre, Contact Theatre, PUMA, Tate Modern, The Royal Society of Arts, Bush Theatre, Lomography, Create Festival + many more.
Bas Jan Ader (1942-1975)
“In Search of the Miraculous (One Night in Los Angeles) (1973) is a series of fourteen photographs [on paper with text in ink] documenting artist Bas Jan Ader’s walk into the LA night. It was the first part of a proposed three part project, which culminated in Ader being lost at sea attempting to undertake a solo crossing of the Atlantic in 1975. Both works engage with romantic notions of the sublime and reference German Romantic painting…”
“The often indistinct, occasionally banal images that constitute In Search of the Miraculous (One Night in Los Angeles) have a spectral, mysterious quality heightened by the shadow cast by later events; a man walks alone into the night, and eventually the sea. However, the pathos of the images is disturbed by the inclusion of pop lyrics and there is a tragic humor in much of Ader’s work that alludes to the silent cinema of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.” [credit]
“Part of Mike Collier’s practice involves curating walks for groups of people, often with the natural historian Keith Bowey; walks that are also collaborations – slow-moving, meandering explorations of urban ‘edgelands’, those marginal and often unsung places where rural and urban coincide. The shared information recorded when ‘botanizing on the streets’ with participants is layered intuitively into the fabric of his abstract paintings and drawings constructed back in the studio. Text is important in the architecture of Collier’s work; the familiar unfamiliarity of vernacular names, dialects of birds and plants once known but fleetingly remembered, hinting back to the specificity of places and their ecological frameworks.
Recently, Collier has embarked on a collaboration with the Wordsworth Trust, working closely with the manuscripts of William and Dorothy Wordsworth (both inveterate walkers, whose walking is often vividly portrayed in these manuscripts). In the prints here (Daffodils 1 & 2 and Good Friday 1 & 2), he works simply, directly and intuitively over the image/text from the journals of Dorothy Wordsworth, responding not only to the words on the page, but to the place the words describe. He has walked these landscapes she describes many times over and understands them well.
MS JJ is a key ‘text’ in the history of Romanticism. The manuscript looks ahead to William Wordsworth’s “Two Part Prelude”, a poem with many references to Wordsworth’s extensive habit of walking and its importance in helping him to make sense of his life and art – indeed, it could be argued that this is where the West’s culture of walking began.”
Whisky miniatures, poems-labels, rubber stamps, handwriting, pencil drawing
“Alec Finlay‘s ‘The Road North’ loosely echoes the seventeenth century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho’s work The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Basho’s work is one of the canonical works of Japanese literature, written as a prose and verse travel diary, in haiku form. It was written on a journey through Japan’s remote north eastern region of Tohoku.
Finlay’s work takes Basho’s work as a starting point which he freely adapts, echoing Basho’s thought that “every day is a journey, and the journey itself home”. ‘The Road North’ documents Finlay’s walking journey around Scotland. Each stopping point is marked by the consumption of a miniature bottle of whisky and a short haiku-style poem. The work offers up unexpected comparisons between Scotland and Japan: most obviously, between the urbanized, hard-headed south and a romantic, isolated north. Finlay combines wry wit and wonder in his multifaceted practice where walking and publishing play equally important roles.”
Simon Pope (1966-)
“Simon Pope’s work has been central to the way in which walking as a method of art production has been rethought in recent years. Pope has remarked that “My recent work has focused on walking as a model for processes of dialogue and negotiation”. He views walking as analogous to the processes of what might be called ‘togetherness’, and describes his work as fundamentally “dialogic”.
To create ‘A Common Third’, Pope undertook walks with invited guests to places that neither he nor his collaborator knew beforehand. Accordingly, both were required to take decisions spontaneously and to negotiate what route and course of action to take.
Pope’s work presents audio recordings made later by the participants about the process – about the mental pathways taken as much as the literal ones. The romantic tradition of walking often refers to solitariness and less often to walking as a form of sociability. Pope examines how relationships, including power relationships, determine or structure our experience and expectations of landscape. His works are experiments in discovering how we approach walking, and what we expect from it. In ‘A Common Third’, he draws our attention to the ways in which law, cultural practice and tradition impact on us – challenging the ahistorical, asocial idea of walking offering a realm of infinite liberty that supposedly sits in contrasts to urban experience.”
“Carey Young‘s series ‘Body Techniques‘ recreates several works from the canon of performance art from the late 1960s and early 1970s, including pieces by Richard Long, Bruce Nauman, Dennis Oppenheim, and Valie Export. Many of these earlier-generation artists undertook their projects by walking into a public space to create a kind of experiment (or, in Nauman’s case, conducting an experiment by walking around the space of his studio).
Long’s ‘Line in Ireland’ offers the viewer a point of entry into a quintessentially romantic wilderness, free of people. The art of the late 1960s often negated the idea of the art object as a luxury commodity by focusing on performance or the artist’s own body, on process rather than product, or on using natural or basic materials. Carey’s image inverts such binary terms, with some ironies.
Her work, like Long’s, shows a place that seems uninhabited. Yet Young’s work also inverts the attitudes associating walking with unfettered liberty, heroic (male) creativity and boundless natural landscapes. She suggests that such concepts are escapist fictions: her uniform of a business suit implies that the world we live in is one where art, money, and big business are more entangled than ever. Creativity and capital are unavoidably intertwined, rather than separable: we cannot ‘walk out’ of either. In her work, no space – conceptual or physical – escapes the process of commodification. ‘Body Techniques’ is accordingly set in Dubai: a place seemingly emblematic of twenty-first century capitalism where almost nobody travels by foot. The gargantuan tower blocks in the background, created with petro-dollars, ensure that walking, and the pleasures and chance encounters of perambulation, have been abolished.” [credit]
“Body Techniques (2007) is a series of eight photographs that considers the interrelationships between art and globalized commerce. The title of the series refers to a phrase originally coined by Marcel Mauss and developed by Pierre Bourdieu as habitus, which describes how an operational context or behavior can be affected by institutions or ideologies.
Set in the vast building sites of Dubai and Sharjah’s futuristic corporate landscape, we see Carey Young alone and dressed in a suit, her actions reworking some of the classic performance-based works associated with Conceptual art, including pieces by Richard Long, Bruce Nauman, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Dennis Oppenheim and Valie Export. In thus recasting earlier works centered around the physicality of the body in time and space, it is ambiguous whether the artist is molding herself to the landscape or exploring ways of resisting it.
The locations for Young’s photographs are a series of empty, uninhabited ‘new build’ developments reminiscent of Las Vegas, rising from the desert’s tabula rasa aimed at bombastic luxury and spectacle and intended for thousands of incoming Western corporate executives. The architectural style is consummate ‘global village’ – a business theme park composed of swathes of multinational HQs and Italianate McVillas. These non-places could eventually compose an entire world-view: a hyperreal, corporate vision of utopia. Half-constructed backdrops are used as a ‘stage’ for the action, with the artist appearing as one tiny individual, overwhelmed, dislocated from, or even belittled by the corporate surroundings, while dressed up to play a role within it.” [credit]
Information source from the British Library: “One of the most influential and controversial figures of the Romantic period, Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in 1772 the son of a clergyman in Ottery St Mary, Devon. His career as a poet and writer was established after he befriended Wordsworth and together they produced Lyrical Ballads in 1798.
For most of his adult life he suffered through addiction to laudanum and opium. His most famous works – ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner‘, ‘Kubla Khan‘ and ‘Christabel’ – all featured supernatural themes and exotic images, perhaps affected by his use of the drugs.
Coleridge was as much a prose and theoretical writer as he was a poet, as revealed in his major work, Biographia Literaria, published in 1817. Coleridge’s legacy has been tainted with accusations of plagiarism, both in his poetry and critical essays. He also had a propensity for leaving projects unfinished and suffered from large debts. But, such was the originality of his early work, that his place and influence within the Romantic period is undisputed.
Further information about the life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge can be found via the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.”
“In August 1802, Samuel Taylor Coleridge set out from his home at Greta Hall, Keswick, for a week’s solo walking-tour in the nearby Cumbrian mountains, a feat that required both daring and physical stamina. His circular route took in Scafell, England’s highest mountain. He kept detailed notes of the landscape around him, drawing rough sketches and maps as well as describing in words what he saw. These notes and sketches are in Notebook No 2, one of 64 notebooks Coleridge kept between 1794 and his death. 55 of them are now in the British Library. Together, these form a fascinating record of his random thoughts and observations, with drafts of poems and extracts from the books he was reading.” (credit)
Blog post analyzing Coleridge’s walk(s), including maps, and photographs from present day.
Wiki post analyzing Coleridge’s friendship with Wordsworth, includes further links
This photographic work was originally presented as a billboard image on 25 urban sites around the UK. The image takes the form of a mass produced tourist postcard. It shows the profile of William Wordsworth, 19th century English Poet Laureate. Wordsworth and his poetry are icons closely linked with the ‘Lake District’. A group of contemporary Black walkers transform the ‘Romantic’ landscape and ideas of History and Heritage.
From Ingrid Pollard (2004) in The Art of Walking: A Field Guide:
“Going to the Lake District over the years, collecting postcards, deliberately searching out England’s timeworn countryside ‘the way it’s always been,’ searching the postcard-stand for the card that shows a sunny upland scene with a black person standing, looking over the hills. Never finding it. I fantisise about encountering that image amongst the England of craggy rocks, rushing streams and lowly sheep. Simple stories, simple connections.”
Marina Abramović and her partner Ulay ended 12-years of intense personal love and shocking art collaboration, in 1988, with an art stunt never seen before. It was named “The Lovers: the Great Wall Walk” in which they decided to make a spiritual journey that would end their relationship: each of them walked half the length of the Great Wall of China, starting from the two opposite ends and meeting in the middle. There they would end it all.
Abramovic started walking westward while Ulay walking eastward, from the eastern end of the Great Wall of China, at Shan Hai Guan to the opposite end at Jaiyuguan. It would take three months for the couple to meet in the middle, where they embraced each other and went their separate ways. After covering 2500km each in 90 days, they would break up their relationship. They met at Er Lang Shan, in Shen Mu, Shaanxi province. Here, they embraced each other and said goodbye. From then on they would both go on with their life and work separately.
Abramović conceived this walk in a dream, and it provided what she thought was an appropriate, romantic ending to a relationship full of mysticism, energy, and attraction. She later described the process: “We needed a certain form of ending, after this huge distance walking towards each other. It is very human. It is in a way more dramatic, more like a film ending … Because in the end we both would be really alone, whatever we would do.”