The Walking Encyclopaedia's Walking Artists of the Day - Ben Waddington, Monique Besten and Cecilia Lagerström

In a continuing series throughout the duration of The Walking Encyclopaedia, we'll be highlighting, daily, the works of three practitioners who employ the walk within their practice. Each of the highlighted artists and artworks were submitted for exhibition to The Walking Encyclopaedia. In each case alongside their artist statement, a link to the artist's website is provided for further exploration.

The Walking Encyclopaedia is a co-production between AirSpace Gallery and the Walking Artists Network.

#22 - Ben Waddington - Still Walking Festival

The mentoring of new guides for the Still Walking programme: researching, shaping, developing and practicing adventurous new walks.

The Still Walking outlook is that everything around us is worth looking at, thinking about and talking about. The guided tour form is a great way to share your knowledge and interests with a like-minded group. My take is that there are still plenty of themes for guided tours that haven't been fully explored. It's a great way to get people interested in their city - being shown round a familiar area by a guide with a keen eye and an unexpected outlook makes people feel differently about that place. That usually means people feeling they belong more and being proud of their city - guides and the walkers alike.

Rather than have seasoned tour guides learn new subjects, I like the idea of finding someone already knowledgeable in an area and then training them in the art of the guided tour. That means researching and shaping content, finding a variety of proximate locations and then developing a steely nerve to deliver your first tour. Sometimes I approach people who I know have a specific interest, and since the festival has been running (this is the third outing) people have been approaching me with ideas they'd like to shape into walks. Some guides need no help at all, others like to be supported for the whole experience and my role is to work out and provide what each needs. I think everyone has found it to be a positive experience and I'm always thrilled to encounter new ideas and angles for events - the possibilities seem endless.

Ben Waddington is a local historian and researcher, with a particular interest in architecture and typography and an even more specific fascination with lettering on buildings. He is also the founder of Still Walking.

Ben has a background in fine art and sees the move into historical investigations as a natural progression: his practices all have their root in a close observation and interpretation of the world. His self-appointed role of tour guide is born from an irrepressible desire to share his discoveries more widely.
Take a look at 2014 Still Walking Festival's Website and join up - Here - http://www.stillwalking.org/


#23 - Monique Besten - A Soft Armour

I threw a simple idea in the air. To walk from my house in Amsterdam to the Nomadic Village 2013 in the south of France and invite people to support me in any way they like and symbolically walk with me. Choose a day, give me something to walk with and in return I embroider your name in my 3 piece walking suit, my “uniform” and walk with you on my mind on that day.

Together with a group of international artists, I walked as a Walking Librarian through Belgium. While walking, I embroidered my thoughts, other peoples' stories and random events and images in the inside of my 3 piece walking suit. - Sideways 2012

On April 7, just after I walked through Ghent in my original soft armour, I wrote Tattoo Joris this text on my Facebook page. Today, May 6, Joris gave me the words I wanted.(April 7)  
well, this is what i do

i find stories
although usually they find me
i look for the dots and connect them
it is easy
you just wait and keep your eyes open

once upon a time i bought myself a three piece walking suit
i called it my soft armour
i wore it for 108 days
it protected me
i collected stories in it
i embroidered them on the inside
and carried them around outside
day and night

one day, when i was on the road
i realised i didn’t need my suit anymore
because i already had a soft armour
an old one
i tried it on, it fitted well
when i walked the streets naked all stories came together

the next day i left on a train
going home
it was a complicated journey
detours and delays
dragging suitcases up steep stairs
changing trains forever

just before i arrived where i was heading
in the last train to a big city
i looked up and saw joris
he was covered in stories
tattooed all over his body

i asked him where i could find a good tattoo artist
he said i had found him
he gave me his card
and asked me to write him what i wanted

so i’m writing
i want words
i want a soft armour forever
I left Amsterdam in the middle of August in a three piece walking suit. I wore it every day while walking and afterwards while being in the Nomadic Village. In the Nomadic Village I opened a memory shop. I sewed memories into peoples' pockets. I left the Nomadic Vilage in my suit, flew to Portugal to do a project in the mountains. When I arrived in Portugal, in Covas do Monte, there was no time to think about changing cloths. I was late, everybody was ready to harvest the corn. I was dropped in the middle of nowhere, I roled up my sleeves, I worked. That day and other days. Sometimes on my art project, sometimes in the fields.
One day we were picking grapes, it started raining, we got soaked. The rest of the afternoon we spent in Emilia's kitchen. She searched for dry clothes. She told me I could keep them.
A new suit. As comfortable as the other one. Different though. But it makes sense. Thoreaux writes we shouldn't procure new cloths as long as we haven't become a new person. These people changed me. They taught me a lot. Just by doing what they do every day, by sharing their life with me, even if it was only for 2,5 weeks.

Website - http://www.moniquebesten.nl/home.html


#24 - Cecilia Lagerström - Silent Walk

Silent Walk
unpredictable encounters in urban space

by Cecilia Lagerström

              Where does it start? Muscles tense. One leg a pillar, holding the body upright between the earth and the sky. The other a pendulum, swinging from behind. Heel touches down. The whole weight of the body rolls forward onto the ball of the foot. The big toe pushes off, and the delicately balanced weight of the body shifts again. The legs reverse position. It starts with a step and then another step and then another that add up like taps on a drum to a rhythm, the rhythm of walking. The most obvious and the most obscure thing in the world, this walking that wanders so readily into religion, philosophy, landscape, urban policy, anatomy, allegory, and heartbreak.[1]


The park is sparsely populated. Slow walk, lone woman amongst the trees. Almost invisible. A child, a little boy, is toddling towards her, thrilled. He is expecting some fun, one of his hands is opening and closing, almost as if he is waving. His mother is far away, but shouts confidently that she is there. The woman and the boy stand opposite each other, a moment of delighted awe. The woman proceeds to walk and the boy is moving towards his mother. A few people pass by, watching. Someone stops, observing intensively. Taken by surprise.[2]

In October 2011, I directed a performance act titled Silent Walk with my collaborating partner, the actress and tight rope dancer Helena Kågemark. Silent Walk is also the name of a short film based on a documentation of the act, in cooperation with the filmmaker Gorki Glaser-Müller and the composer Gopi. In this act, Helena walked very slowly through the central parts of Gothenburg in rush hour, dressed in a smart city-suit with her face painted white. Busy pedestrians passed her by swiftly with the urban pulse. The tranquil silence of her walking, together with her white washed face, created a deviant pattern in the flickering flow of rapidly passing transitory street life.

The staging of slow walking in busy areas is familiar in many different contexts. City walks are popular events, not only as tourist activities but also as art happenings or flash mobs and other experiments in public spaces. In that sense, Silent Walk was one of many kinds of walking interventions into the city.[3] The act shifted between “artistic” and “everyday” expressions and resulted in many reactions and unexpected encounters with people in the city centre. These bring the relationship between actor and spectator to a head, raising questions concerning the ethical aspect of the human encounter.

The starting point, however, was not to create a city walk as an artistic event. Creating the act was rather a consequence of our study of silence and of our approach to creating art. We wanted to try out some of these explorations in a situation in which we rarely place our artistic work: to present an unannounced or non-commissioned performance act in a public space. The purpose of the act was to be a reminder of ”something else” for the involuntary audience in a place dominated by consumerism, rapidness and people dashingly on their way.[4] The intent was also to try out a strategy of silence in a situation characterized by noise: to try out a contemplative approach within rumbling surroundings. When the word "strategy" is heard in modern day management lingo, one may associate the word with an end, an objective, a policy that will eventually lead to a gain, to reap what was invested - and earn some more. To successfully manipulate the other. Here I talk of a "disinterested" strategy where the process itself is of all importance while there is no desire to harvest a specific result. There is nothing to win and bring home. Though the encounter may well mean that some of the "spectators" – and we ourselves - will be bringing new influences and impressions home. The driving force of this strategy is to contribute to society through detached acting – not hankering for attention, confrontation or certain responses from recipients – and to add silence without forcing it upon any one. The silence being explored in this project refers to the conscious act of slowing down, of entering stillness, a matter of listening and perceiving, amidst the stream of rapid progress of contemporary society.

This staging of Silent Walk is primarily rooted in our background in physical theatre. The performance act was part of an artistic development project on postdramatic theatre that I have been involved in at the Academy of Music and Drama in Gothenburg 2010-2012.[5] My part of the project explored the theme of silence in order to put my practice as a director under the magnifying glass.[6] These experiences are reported in more detail in another publication.[7] In this article, I focus on the act Silent Walk as an independent event, and on the issues that the performance raised. These concern the complex relationship between the actor and the spectator in performative situations in public space. My aim is to animate how the performance act was composed, developed and what responses it rendered when performed on location. I write in order to deeper understand the implications of the act and the urgent questions it raised about the ethical dimension of the human encounter.

Walking and Perceiving

On the way through the shopping centre towards the tunnel the rate of occurrences intensifies. A seller of Factum (a magazine of the homeless) interacts. Some girls shout ‘hello’. She turns around and smiles at them. They become surprised, and walk on. A couple look at her and then at each other with an embarrassed giggle. She modifies her gait more now. She looks up, then to the side, tries to move a little more varied. That is good. It gives the act a more vivid expression. But it has to be restrained. The walk must still be the basis of the action.[8]

Walking comprises an uncompleted movement: someone is going somewhere. It is not only a matter of transporting oneself from one point to the other, but to be open to experiences under way. It may induce associative thinking, bring about memory processes and lead us onto unknown paths. For the vast majority of human history we have been living in nomadic tribes where constant wandering has equalled life itself. The path travelled has literally been covered in our predecessors’ imprints. Embedded in their footsteps is the mythic and timeless saga of existence. Tradition has been handed down during walks. For thinkers through the ages walking has been a means of understanding the world. It is often described as a deeply human activity, as it recreates a sense of connection – a reunion – both with one’s own existence and with the surrounding world. Within man’s corporeal comprehension of the world there is information contained about society, the political and social conditions that form our existence.

In Silent Walk the actress Helena had a specific path to follow, a sequence of shifting environments, which we had worked out in advance. The route ran through a park, a shopping centre, a tunnel for pedestrians, the railway station and a bus-square, and covered slightly less than a kilometre. Helena did not intentionally seek contact with passersby. Rather she was observing her surroundings. She walked in a slow pace, focusing her perception, inwards on bodily processes and outwards on sensory stimuli, with no absolute boundary between body and environment. To some spectators the manner of walking may resemble “slow-motion” movements, an attribute of the cinema. Instead of trying to create an external illusion of prolonged time, in contrast to the passersby, our intention involves extending time through profound internal awareness. The basis for performing this act is the quality of the presence of the actress: the expansion of her sensibility and awareness, to enter into a certain state of mind, her meticulous care in every single step, in every micro-moment.[9] The expression is reduced and sparse. Thus, the actor’s ability to elaborate her physical-mental presence in space is crucial for the act’s expression, in addition to all the big and small considerations we made regarding the gait, gestures, gaze, mask and costume. It is this mode of awareness, or consciousness, that creates the artistic form of the act, and ultimately influences the perception of the spectator. It could perhaps be described as an immanence of an almost transcendental state of mind.[10] In this context I call it “attentive walking”.

Naturally, the course of the walk, between different locations in the sequence, affected how the act was perceived by the audience. The tranquility of the park made the act relatively invisible. Only a few people who came up close noticed the woman with the white face and her stroll. In the more populated stretch towards the shopping centre, the interactions intensified, and so did the contrast between the woman and the environment. Inside the shopping mall the stream of people grew. It was in this opposition between slowness and speed, between contemplative stillness and frantic activity, that the act appeared most visible. The diversity of reactions grew: cries of delight, smiles, embarrassment, angry outbursts, scornful comments and silent observation. Teenagers filmed with their smartphones and followed the woman to make fun of her in front of their friends; older women wanted to help the seemingly confused creature with the white face; and other people tried to catch the woman’s attention in different ways. There were also those who shouted friendly words after her or tried to start a conversation. Not to forget all the people who just passed by without looking at all.[11]

In the last phase of the walk – from the tunnel to the Central Station, inside the station and crossing the square – one could discern a greater calm. This may partly be because Helena experimented here with a few specific poses that she froze for a few moments. It may also be a consequence of the fact that these locations were not as poundingly intense as the shopping mall, or that the promenade was coming to an end. The nuances increased and the crowd began to thin out.

In the tunnel she stops, standing still for a long time. Strong expression. People are on their way and the time seems scarce. Moving on. Outside the sun is shining and her face is lit up like a lamp. Walking against a brick background.[12]

Maybe the most apparent thing about people’s ways of receiving the act was the plurality of reactions. It became clear that there was no coherent audience observing a performed act, but individual spectators (sometimes in couples or small groups) who met an actor at a certain moment of their own walk through the city. In this moment, they observed the woman passing by, and thereafter they continued their own activity or walk.[13]

Helena, the woman, observed the people and their reactions, seemingly without responding. She did not mirror her fellow beings or interact with them, but continued her slow, measured walk. This behaviour in itself seemed to result in certain reactions: provocation, anger, compassion or playfulness. The intention was that Helena, as someone walking about and listening to or overhearing the world, would be a reminder for people in their everyday flow of life, not unlike the angel in Wim Wender’s film Wings of Desire.[14] She encountered what occurred around her without judgement or interference. This resulted in people’s reactions and answers often bouncing back on themselves. As if the actress became a projection screen for the spectator’s own story. The possible interpretations of the act seemed endless.

To Deviate

Then, a gang of teenagers arrives and starts to follow her. They appear suddenly, and flock around her. Their attitude is tough. They joke, make fun of her and each other, filming and photographing her with their mobile phones, trying to interfere. This has not happened before. I become a bit upset, conscious about boundaries, and I ask myself how far will they go and how far is acceptable? Suddenly, a large group of children enters the tunnel together with their teachers. They move quickly. The children end up between the teenagers and Helena, and I feel relieved. Rescued by a group of children! But the saving angels are – like the teenagers – insensitive. They scream, laugh, relate to the woman as a ghost. They pretend to be frightened (and become frightened). A teacher jumps in and screams Bhoooo! They crowd so tightly to her that she can hardly move. They raise numerous mobile cameras straight to her face. She becomes a prey, a lonely film star encircled by a pack of children paparazzi on a gala evening. The whole situation seems absurd. The teachers are detached passive observers. And right behind them the relentless teenagers follow, occasionally attacking from behind. A camera in her face, a hand in front of her eyes, comments: ‘She looked at me’, ‘Scary’, ‘Can she blink?’, ‘Can she hear what we say?’, ‘Where is she going?’, ‘What if she goes out into the traffic?’, ‘She seems insane’, ‘Touch her!’, ‘No, I dare not’, ‘Give her a coin’. When she looks them in the eyes, they back off and become shaken. ‘She looked me straight in the eye. Creepy’![15]

To walk slowly and attentively in a place characterized by haste and transience, may seem deviant. Geographer Tim Cresswell is claiming that it is only when the natural order in a place is violated that you perceive what does not fit in, what is ”out of place”.[16] Someone crosses a border, is in the wrong place, or moves in a strange way. The individual may deviate by not wearing the same face, not falling into the common pace. What is the consequence of being ”out of place”?

We had consciously created the act to blend in with the city life surrounding us: the dress, Helena’s discrete appearance and the choice of not announcing the act. At the same time, our intention was to create clear markers of ”performance”, as we did not want to deceive people or make something that just seemed ”strange”. The most important and obvious marker was the white face, but also the way the walk was performed. After two or three performances, it became clear that, after all, many people seemed to perceive Helena as a deviant, strange or ill person, adrift, and not as a performer.

We were surprised by the reactions of passersby, the group of children and the teenagers that I have described above. We gradually began to understand that the act contained many ethical implications we did not expect. What was really taking place between the actor and the spectators? How come Helena was perceived as strange or sick? Why was compassion mainly shown by socially disadvantaged or excluded persons? Why were the youngsters so afraid of the human gaze?

We had invited three collegues to follow the entire act from beginning to end. One of these was the visual artist Luisa Greenfield:

Laughter as a reaction seemed kind of natural because people often laugh when they are confused or confronted with something unusual and unpredictable. But what did surprise and disturb me was some of the social behaviour that I witnessed. I found a kind of a mockery and cruel laughter particularly sad since it wasn't at all clear that this was a performance (no cameras, no "audience"), which means that these people probably assumed that she was mentally unstable in some way. It made me think about how uncomfortable people are with those who are not like everyone else.[17]

The actress’s deviation from the environment in terms of behaviour and appearance, insistently following her path without requiring or seeking attention or response, was an aspect that seemed to influence the spectators’ readings of the act. In many cases, it resulted in both strong reactions as well as a loss of the theatrical effect.

In central Gothenburg, like in most cities, there are many different looks, styles and activities amongst people: street musicians and other entertainers, vendors, people dressed for hen or stag parties, beggars crouched on the ground, youths protesting against economism and clowns masked in white. There were similarities between our act and the actions of others but there were also differences. Our performative approach did not include any intention to convince or evoke a certain response in the surroundings. This seemed to affect people's abilities to decode and identify the act as a "performance". The uncertainty that we wanted to play with left stronger imprints than we expected and perhaps it was this precariousness that led to some spectators’ need to pursue the woman, to provoke a response, to understand. Some of the youths in the group that followed her did not give up.

Three of the boys - the most persistent ones - cannot leave her. They want to know where she is heading, want to see her moving on, and seem genuinely concerned about how she will manage in the traffic. They are now walking at her pace, closely beside her, over the stripes of the pedestrian crossing. They follow in silence all the way to the end, walk along with her ​​on the sparsely filled bus square.[18]

The three boys went from being aggressive, mocking and expressive in the large group, to a more protective and empathic stance. Towards the end they started to walk at Helena’s pace, in tune with her breathing. They followed her to the edge of Drottningtorget. Here we stopped the performance and began to converse with them. The young men explained that they had thought she was ill. They wanted to understand, but had also been concerned for her. When they realized she had been performing, they were impressed by her "concentration". We discussed themes such as normality, exclusion and art, and then took a cordial farewell. Their persistence but also their ability to quickly accept the new conditions impressed us.[19]

The Gap Between Myself and The Other

The woman with the white face functioned as a silent provocation in the everyday flow. She became someone to meet, but also a projection screen for reactions, for the spectator's own life story. Do we smile, throw a coin, attempt to recruit her as an aide for Amnesty, or do we abuse the silent woman with a white painted face? What do I see in The Other? Where am I in my life?[20]

The actress was a wanderer and listener in the city.[21] Unexpectedly, she also became a prey. She suddenly found herself outside the secure frameworks of the art field, in a direct encounter with her surroundings, face to face. The only effective weapon she had was her gaze. When she looked into the eyes of her aggressors, they were disarmed.

After performing Silent Walk, the philosopher Emmanuel Lévinas’s ideas on the ethics of the face came to mind.  The spectators’ strong reactions to the performer’s gaze and face, and the very disparate, sometimes violent, responses to her are redolent of Lévinas’s ideas:

Lévinas’s analysis of the cry emanating from the face of The Other is central in modern ethics, but increasingly forgotten by the modern man. This face cannot be owned or subdued. The face belongs to somebody else; it comes from the outside as something totally strange. And at the same time, it is my own face. Naked and vulnerable. Deep inside the gaze of the Other, something tells us about our common feeling of being lost, our search, our vulnerability, our fear of violence, of extermination – and our obstinate aspiration to find a place in this ambiguous existence.[22]

We experienced something both significant and disturbing in our encounter with Lévinas’s thoughts, particularly when we later tried out the theories on stage from the actress’s point of view, face to face with the audience. This raised questions on the inter-human encounter. Are we able to encounter the Other without imposing our own view of the world onto him or her; without making the Other into us, into me? Are we able to accept the unfamiliar without reducing it? Lévinas gives the Other and the gaze of the Other a central position. In meeting another being, one’s own horizon is challenged, and therefore we are constantly looking for ways of eliminating the face of the Other, to make it ours. Only through an acceptance of the gap between me and the other person, of that which is not me, can a real encounter take place (Lévinas 1987).

This is of relevance to the ideas of the philosopher Marcia Sá Cavalcante Schuback’s. She questions the common claim that understanding is a matter of making the unfamiliar familiar. She emphasises the importance of distancing oneself from the obvious, the familiar, in the process of understanding the unfamiliar. She argues for a space where we withdraw, thread back, in the encounter with the Other, which makes a transformation possible. It is not a matter of becoming one thing or another, but of becoming something new (Cavalcante Schuback 2006).

In Yoko Ono’s 1963 performance act Cut Piece the audience is instructed to enter the stage one at a time, and with a pair of scissors cut a piece of her clothing. Ono sits motionless on stage with a neutral expression through the entire performance, while spectators cut off her clothes piece by piece. I found obvious parallels to Silent Walk regarding the actress’s role in the performance: her function as a projection screen, the spectators’ different reactions and the focus on the audience's behaviour. As in Silent Walk the ethical issues were obvious; in Cut Piece the audience's role was even more specific and demanding than in our act. Moreover, it was performed on a stage. As in our case, there were elements of aggression, scorn and provocation from some spectators. There is a famous example of a male spectator who, with an allusive facial expression towards the audience, tries to cut off Ono’s underwear. Ono retains her neutral, passive attitude, so that the action is never received but resounds and remains with the sender. [23]

Cut Piece is an interesting performative event  it is still to be seen on You Tube in different versions – that tempts spectators to different readings. The literature about the performance contains analyses about power, feminist and postcolonial perspectives, alongside scholarly art, cultural and aesthetic debates. In an article in the Journal of Performance and Arts (Concannon 2008), Ono herself says that the performance act was all about giving and taking. It was a form of criticism of the artist's always giving what he or she chooses to give. Instead, she wanted the audience to take what they wanted.

The Face of The Other

The spectators’ different ways of reacting to the ”otherness” of Helena was an exhilarating experience. The question is whether the reactions also mirrored a multiplicity of relations to The Other, or not. For example, from a Lévinas perspective, did a confrontative response to the woman really differ from expressions of compassion or joy? It was not clear whether the different replies really showed a substantial difference in approach. They could be a way of respecting and showing the Other that she was seen, but could also be a means to ”eliminate the otherness”, to make her conform to the spectator’s worldview.

Our play with the familiar and the unfamiliar, with similarity and divergence, created ambiguity in the event. Maybe this balancing between extremes is a key to understanding the effect of the act? The actress’s naturalistic stance in her acting along with the heightened physicality of her movement; or her way of not searching for attention along with her marking herself out in the crowd, are examples of contradictory elements that affected the spectator’s way of interpreting what was happening.

In the summer of 2012, the Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård wrote an article in Dagens Nyheter in Sweden, reflecting on Anders Behring Breivik, one year after the terrible events at Utøya in Norway. Knausgård analyses how it is possible to eliminate the inner defence against killing another human being, for example in war. He says that it takes more than identifying oneself with a group and to conform to a hierarchy where the individual responsibility dissolves, ”when you stand in front of the face of the Other, to put out the life in his eyes”. It is a matter of creating distance, which is something that unites different methods for training soldiers:

The less distance, the more difficult it is to make someone kill. It is one thing to drop bombs over a certain area, another to kill the same people at close range, eye to eye. What is different? It is the face. It is the eyes; it is the light in them. [24]

Knausgård discusses the dehumanisation that takes place on the battlefield. As soldiers are being trained to shoot targets that look like people instead of impersonal marks, the actual faces they will meet on the battlefield will appear less as a shock. At the same time the targets function as masks, the soldiers see masks, images and not human beings. One American soldier in Iraq expressed it as follows:

My enemy does not have a face. He doesn’t have a face. What he has is a target. That’s what I aim at. I don’t see a human being there. I cannot see a human being.”[25]

When reading this article, it struck me that the teenagers’ disrespectful attacks on the woman in Silent Walk and the way they were eventually disarmed by her gaze could be an expression of the uncertainty that our act created. Perhaps the theatrical markers we created, such as the white face and the performative walk, had an alienating and dehumanising effect on the spectators, the woman being transformed into a target. When encountering her eye to eye, face to face, at close range, it was like the actual humanity came to light, in one moment, inviolable.

Silent Walk was an event that grew in importance over time, and became fruitful in unexpected ways. It triggered situations we had never anticipated, and sent responses that surprised us. The project shed new light on our artistic practice and made visible the disinterested strategy of silence. In focus of the performance was the process of attentive walking and perceiving of the actress, which neither sought to control the experience of the spectator nor achieve a particular response or attention. This kind of art event stimulates a process of interpretation that is open and sensual, where the actor may become a projection screen for the spectator’s personal story.[26] Crucial for this art practice is the way it considers listening as a means to act, communicate, and create a dialogue with others. The act of doing and that of listening are closely interconnected, they take place in micro-moments, more or less simultaneously. Things are being perceived by incorporating them in the body, and the body is being perceived by turning to the things outside oneself.

The performance involved the conscious act of slowing down, of entering stillness, amidst the stream of rapid progress of urban space and of our contemporary society. We tried to challenge the limits of otherness through this disinterested act of walking and the reduction of expression. By the simple act, or non-act, of refusing to comply, we applied a strategy of deviation. This led to spectators’ reactions of alienation as well as compassion, creating a vibrant space of uncertainty. Silent Walk raised fundamental questions about the performative event and provoked all the complexities of the human encounter.

Photos by Gorki Glaser-Müller & Cecilia Lagerström
Drawing by Helena Kågemark

Cavalcante Schuback, M.S. (2006). Lovtal till Intet: essäer om hermeneutisk filosofi. Göteborg: Glänta.
Concannon, K. (2008). Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece. From Text to Performance and Back Again, Journal of           Performance and Arts (PAJ), 90, 81-93.
Cresswell, Tim (1996), In place/out of place: geography, ideology and transgression, Minneapolis:          University of Minnesota Press.
De Certeau, M. (1988). The Practice of Evereyday Life. London: University of California Press.
Ferm, Tomas and Rugfelt Ferm, Ann-Charlotte (Artists), (2011). Tänk på döden (Remember Death),           artpiece. Gothenburg: Nordstan.
Greenfield, L., Written reflection, 2 November 2011, (unpublished).
Kaltiala, N. (2011, March 18). ”Därför måste vi låta oss störas av den Andre”. Dagens Nyheter.
Knausgård, K.O. (2012, July 22). ”Ett år efter terrordåden i Oslo och på Utøya”. Dagens Nyheter.
Kågemark, H., Walking journal, 14-21 October 2011, (unpublished).
Lagerström, Cecilia (Director), (2012). Silent Walk, short film/film documentation, Gothenburg:              University of Gothenburg/Rosarium/Alkemisterna.
Lagerström, Cecilia (Director), (2011). Etyder om tystnad (Etudes on Silence), research performance,    Gothenburg: Academy of Music and Drama.
Lagerström, C., Walking journal, 14-21 October 2011, (unpublished).
Lévinas, E. (1987, 1947). Time and the other: and additional essays. Pittsburgh, Pa.: Duquesne Univ.
Lindh, I. (2003). Stenar att gå på (Stepping Stones). Hedemora: Gidlund.                (http://www.institutetforscenkonst.com).
Pearson, M. and Shanks, M. (2001). Theatre/Archaeology. London and New York: Routledge.
Solnit, R. (2001). Wanderlust. A History of Walking. London: Verso.
Sontag, Susan (1966). Against Interpretation and Other Essays, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Wenders, Wim (Director), (1987). Der Himmel über Berlin, feature film. Berlin: Road Movies       Filmproduktion, Westdeutscher Rundfunk.

This material will be included in an forthcoming publication in 2014.
© 2014 Cecilia Lagerström

Cecilia Lagerström is a director, artistic researcher and senior lecturer at the Academy of Music and Drama, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Cecilia has a background in laboratory theatre and has been directing performance work since 1993 in theatres and other venues. She has also been conducting artistic research- and development projects, both within the academic environment and in the art world. In a long term collaboration with the actress and tight rope dancer Helena Kågemark, she is running the theatre studio ensemble Alkemisterna (the Alchemists) based at Konstepidemin in Gothenburg.

Contact: cecilia.lagerstrom@hsm.gu.se

[1] Rebecca Solnit (2001). Wanderlust. A History of Walking. London: Verso. p. 3.
[2] Retrieved from my Walking journal (edited version originally in Swedish). Silent Walk was performed three times during October 2011. Notes were written directly after each performance.
[3] The performance act may be related to other artistic and subversive activities that challenge order and normality in the public space. See for example M. De Certeau,  (1988). The Practice of Evereyday Life. London: University of California Press.

[4] During our planning of the act, an artwork appeared at the entrance to the Nordstan shopping mall. It was a replica of an old sign found at Stampen’s Cemetery in Gothenburg, with the text ”Tänk på döden” (Remember Death) by the artist Tomas Ferm and Ann-Charlotte Rugfelt Ferm. We were very much inspired by this work, and followed the ongoing debate on the work in the press.
[5] The complete title is Postdramatic Theatre as Method and Practical Theory Inside and Outside of Academia. The project was carried out in two parts, one was led by me in collaboration with Helena Kågemark, and another part was led by my colleague, the choreographer Pia Muchin, in collaboration with the actress Gunilla Röör.
[6] I had identified silence as a main theme in my artistic work, also present in my theatre tradition and in my interest in the underlying and ambiguous aspects of the overall art event. The project examined silence from various angles: as a silenced history, as a method of directing, as a refuge and as a strategy.
[7] In a forthcoming publication 2014.
[8] Retrieved from my Walking journal.
[9] The approach is based on awareness training techniques that we have practiced for a long time, inspired by a specific part of the theatre group Institutet för Scenkonst’s acting research (”the mutation work”).
[10] Transcendental consciousness is sometimes termed by researchers a state of restful alertness. It may be described as an "absolute stillness that is alive and full" or as ”a silent, inner state of no thoughts, just pure awareness”.
[11] At each performance, I followed the act closely, as a witness and protection for Helena in case something adverse would happen. Directly afterwards, both I and Helena made notes in our Walking journals. We invited three colleagues who followed the whole act and gave us feedback afterwards. On some occasions, we discussed the act with passersby. Descriptions of how the act was performed and perceived are related to these sources.
[12] Retrieved from my Walking journal.
[13] Sometimes their walking pattern was altered significantly by meeting her. They went closer to or away from her or began to follow her.
[14] Original title: Der Himmel über Berlin, 1987.
[15] Retrieved from my Walking journal.
[16] Tim Cresswell (1996), In place/out of place: geography, ideology and transgression, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
[17] Quoted from a written reflection by Luisa Greenfield, 2 November 2011.
[18] Retrieved from my Walking journal.
[19] The young men were students at a technical high school and had never been to the theatre.
[20] Quoted from my manuscript of the research performance Etyder om tystnad (Etudes on Silence), Gothenburg 2011. The examples originate from real incidents from the performance of the act.
[21] Michael Shanks describes different kinds of pedestrians in the city space: the walker, the flaneur, the nomad and the rambler. Perhaps it is possible to identify traces of them all in Helena’s wanderings. After all, as De Certeau suggests, walking basically includes three aspects: walking, looking and being looked at. De Certeau 1988 and M Pearson and M Shanks (2001), Theatre/Archaeology. London and New York: Routledge.
[22] Retrieved from an article by Nina Kaltiala, in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter 18 March 2011. Original quote in Swedish: ”Lévinas analys av det rop som utgår från den Andres ansikte är central i den moderna etiken, men håller på att glömmas av den moderna människan. Detta ansikte som inte kan ägas eller bli ett byte som man kan underlägga sig. Ansiktet är någon annans, det kommer utifrån som det helt främmande. Och samtidigt är det mitt eget ansikte. Naket och sårbart. Längst inne i blicken hos den Andre finns något som berättar om vår gemensamma vilsenhet, vårt sökande, vår utsatthet, vår rädsla för våldet, för utplånandet - och vår egensinniga strävan att i tillvarons tvetydighet hitta en plats.”
[23] However, there is a moment in which the action occupies her body:  the moment when Yoko Ono is trying, very discreetly, to keep up her bra straps.
[24] K. O. Knausgård, “Ett år efter terrordåden i Oslo och på Utøya”. Dagens Nyheter 22 July 2012. Original quote in Swedish: ”Gemensamt för dessa metoder är avstånd. Ju mindre avstånd, desto svårare är att förmå någon att döda. Det är en sak att släppa bomber över ett område, en helt annan att döda samma människor på nära håll, öga mot öga. Vad är det som är annorlunda? Det är ansiktet, det är ögonen, det är ljuset i dem.”
[25] Quoted from Knausgård 2012 who refers to Geir Angell Øygarden’s book Bagdad Indigo from 2010. Original quote in Swedish: ”Min fiende har inget ansikte. Han har inget ansikte. Det han har är så att säga en måltavla. Det är den jag siktar på. Jag ser ingen människa där. Jag kan inte se en människa.”
[26] This approach relates to the writer Susan Sontag’s arguments against contemporary modes of interpretation and its excessive focus on content and meaning, rather than being attentive to the sensuous aspects of art. Susan Sontag (1966), Against Interpretation and Other Essays, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Cecilia Lagerström is a director, artistic researcher and senior lecturer at the Academy of Music and Drama, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Cecilia has a background in laboratory theatre and has been directing performance work since 1993 in theatres and other venues. She has also been conducting artistic research- and development projects, both within the academic environment and in the art world. In a long term collaboration with the actress and tight rope dancer Helena Kågemark, she is running the theatre studio ensemble Alkemisterna (the Alchemists) based at Konstepidemin in Gothenburg. 

1 comment:

  1. Boka tolk göteborg
    Vi erbjuder trygga och kvalitativa tjänster där vi matchar era specifika behov med rätt tolk! Kontakta oss redan idag så hjälper vi er på bästa sätt!