“The Drawing Project began in Detroit in 1999 and became an interdisciplinary performance, mapping and cultural-exchange project collaboratively developed by Walk & Squawk (Hilary Ramsden and Erika Block), with U.S. and South Africa-based artists and communities during a series of residencies in Detroit and KwaZulu-Natal from 2003 through 2006. Inspired by desire lines people made across vacant lots in Detroit and across fields in South Africa we explored the paths we walk and how they are formed through culture, geography, language, economics and love. We looked at how changing our patterns of movement can alter our attitudes and perception, how taking a different path can alter our lives. We discovered how learning language alters the actual paths in our brains and how taking a car means something very different from taking a walk.” [credit]
“A project tracing the routes of branch lines that were cut following the Beeching Report in 1963
Stuart McAdam came to Huntly in Summer 2013 from Glasgow.
Stuart’s Lines Lost project was triggered by the infamous railway cuts which saw train tracks closed as a result of Dr Richard Beeching’s recommendations 50 years ago. Through a series of performative walks with all kinds of people along the former Portsoy to Huntly route, McAdam’s aim was to bring into focus the historic and contemporary concerns surrounding our transport legacy.
Through walking the former track again and again, people have seen him reawaken the route that has been subsumed into the landscape – like remains of ghostly traces of the line that once linked communities. Linking natural with industrial and social history of the past 50 years he interrogated the historical, cultural and contemporary resonances through a series of documented walks.
The North of Scotland was one of the areas most affected by the Beeching cuts with local stopping train routes such as Aberdeen – Inverurie, Aberdeen – Keith – Elgin, Huntly to Banff and Portsoy, Banff – Tillynaught, Fraserburgh – St Combs, Elgin – Lossiemouth, Aberdeen – Ballater and Fraserburgh, Maud – Peterhead and Aviemore – Elgin via Inverness, cut. Many of those that crossed the county have never been replaced by other forms of public transport making journeys difficult and adding hours to travel time for those not having access to private cars – passengers have to travel south to Aberdeen or north to Elgin to get connections often having long waits between buses. McAdam repeatedly walked the route from Huntly to Portsoy, experiencing it through different eyes every time.
“Physical and transparent remnants of most of the lines still exist within the landscape and I hope to reawaken them in the public consciousness”, said McAdam, who has explored journeys, boundaries and slow travel in a range of artworks.
“As we mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of the Beeching report is also fitting time to consider the impact that the cuts had on the relative development and decline of the many towns and villages that lay along the historic routes, routes that were often life lines for outlying communities.”
McAdam was at the Edinburgh Art Festival the 1st of August. For more information go to the event page.
“During a 2007 Walking and Art residency at the Banff Centre, I made walking sticks and related devices, exploring ways in which walking leaves traces and tracks in the landscape. Walking in the Banff area brings a certain frisson; there is always the possibility of dangerous encounters with other species, the elements, and difficult terrain.” [credit]
“Composer/performer Pamela Z will lead participants on a walk that creates musical scores from the graphic features (micro and macro) of downtown Manhattan. Participants will form a roving experimental sound and performance ensemble that will interpret and play the neighborhood’s building facades, sidewalk hardware, public art and street markings to make a contrapuntal, chance-based chorus.
“Pamela Z is a composer/performer and media artist who makes solo works combining a wide range of vocal techniques with electronic processing, samples, gesture activated MIDI controllers, and video. She has toured extensively throughout the US, Europe, and Japan. Her work has been presented at venues and exhibitions including Bang on a Can (NY), the Japan Interlink Festival, Other Minds (SF), the Venice Biennale, and the Dakar Biennale. She’s created installation works and has composed scores for dance, film, and new music chamber ensembles. Her numerous awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Creative Capital Fund, the CalArts Alpert Award, The MAP Fund, the ASCAP Award, an Ars Electronica honorable mention, and the NEA/JUSFC Fellowship.Pamela’s website”
Lisa Myers, ‘and from then on we lived on blueberries for about a week’, made for MAP Spring 2013, 6’44” (animation with assistance from animator Rafaela Kino). This work pays homage to an on-foot journey her grandfather undertook to flee Shingwauk Residential School in Ontario. Myers herself once did an 11-day walk tracing the route of her grandfather’s journey.
“When he was a boy, artist Lisa Myers’s Anishinaabe grandfather walked some 250 kilometres along Northern Ontario railroad tracks for one reason: to escape Shingwauk Residential School in Sault Ste. Marie.
Myers recorded her grandfather’s account of this journey during a conversation with him in the 1990s—and she listened it to it many times before she made the decision, in 2009, to walk the route he’d described alongside her cousin Shelley Essaunce and her nephew Gabriel.
Myers and the Essaunces took 11 days to walk the 250-kilometre journey.
“After this walk,” Myers writes in a 2016 Walter Phillips Gallery exhibition essay titled “Rails and Ties,” “I began thinking about how to locate myself within my grandfather’s story, and about how I wanted to convey its different iterations. One thing that struck me was that he survived by eating blueberries growing along the tracks. He said, ‘and from then on we lived on blueberries for about a week.’”
The latter quotation from her grandfather became the title for a video installation by Myers—one related to trauma, food, walking and survival—that was on view at Artcite in Windsor this spring as part of the exhibition “Walks of Survivance.”
“Instead of always repeating his story, [walking] was a way of finding myself in that story,” Myers told curator Maya Wilson-Sanchez a few years ago. And by walking, Myers also told Wilson-Sanchez, she was “able to bring the places in the story to life.”
“When I recall walking across the railway bridge over the Mississauga River north of Lake Huron,” Myers writes in “Rails and Ties,” “I think about my fear of the elevation, and how gusts of wind unsteadied my steps. Finding my footing meant looking down and seeing the river rushing 50 feet below the railway ties of that century-old steel bridge. The Mississagi River flows into Lake Huron, the railway crosses the river, and from my grandfather’s account of his journey this was the first place (after leaving school) where he heard his language and saw Anishinaabe people cooking and sharing food down by the river. They welcomed him, and fed him.”
During her walk in her grandfather’s footsteps, Myers also heard stories of other youth who had escaped the way he had. Ultimately, her works on this theme—which include both abstract and map-like prints made with blueberry pigments, as well as documentation of wooden spoons stained with blueberries she has shared with others, also speak to a complex intertwining of group and individual journeys, of landscapes that are real and imagined.
“The spoons represent sharing, sustenance and the gathering of people,” Myers writes. “When I line these spoons up side by side, the reddish-blue marks continue from one utensil to the next, recalling an imaginary topography or horizon line created by the trace of berry consumption.”
In this sense, walking and artmaking become different ways of tracing and “straining” an experience.
“Straining to survive, or even to be accepted, means the less digestible parts of stories need to be retained, traced, remembered and told,” Myers writes.
Of course, Myers is not alone in thinking about walking as a mode of Indigenous resistance and survival.
“There’s the water walk that is happening, and which is not directly art-related,” Myers said in a phone interview. “But I think Indigenous artists are wanting to also acknowledge that these forms of activism are happening. There was walking from a community in Nunavut, [Idle No More] walking to Ottawa to make a point.”
Lisa Myers, ‘Blueberry Spoons’, 2010, video, 7’37”
76 floor rubbings
made on the sidewalks of New York
18″ x 24″, graphite on paper, 2008
Edition of 3
There are seventy rubbings in the series and they were installed as a grid on the wall, with varying dimensions depending on the location. The simple act of tracing in this set of walking-based drawings asks questions about borders, public versus private space, and how people mark space.
“Francisca Benitez (b. 1974, Chile) lives and works in New York. Recent solo exhibitions include Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space, New York (2014); Museo de Artes Visuales, Santiago, Chile (2013); Die Ecke, Santiago, Chile (2011); and Nada.Lokal, Vienna, Austria (2009). Notable group exhibitions include Mapping Brooklyn, Brooklyn Historical Society and BRIC House, Brooklyn (2015); Efemérides, Museo Histórico Nacional, Santiago, Chile (2014); Pier 54, High Line Art, New York (2014); One Minute Film Festival 2003 – 2012, MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts (2013); The Street Files, El Museo del Barrio, New York (2011); and Contaminaciones Contemporáneas, Museu de Arte Contemporánea da USP, Sao Paulo, Brazil (2010). Her work has been featured in major international exhibitions including the Bienal de la Habana, Cuba (2015); Lisbon Architecture Triennale, Portugal (2013) the Beijing Biennale, China (2009); and the LA Frewaves 10th biennial of film, video and new media, Los Angeles (2006).” (credit)
This work was made by dipping boots in acetone, and then walking across two blocks of styrofoam. The chemical ate away footprints, leaving a walking pattern.