LADA is delighted to present the online screening of Walking Home, Alisa Oleva’s first film, created in the context of Performistanbul’s residency programme for performance artists on theme of ‘home’.
For her residency in Istanbul in March 2020, Alisa Oleva had planned to invite participants who self-identify as women to one-to-one performances during which they would ‘walk her home’, discussing what home meant for them as they walked. Due to the pandemic the performances had to be completely re-imagined as remote encounters. At agreed dates and times over the course of three weeks, the participating women went to designated starting points in Istanbul and walked to a place where each of them felt ‘at home’. At the same time, Alisa was walking in London and connecting with each woman on the phone, sharing their footsteps, their breathing and their conversation on what home means. The film Walking Home is a record of these encounters.
I usually work with sound, movement, and very ephemeral forms of documentation. However, this time the connection was already so thinned by all obstacles and distances that I wanted to create some visual presence, visual connection of me and the participating women. This is how Walking Home was created. It is the compilation of the short videos that were filmed during the 32 walks which took place, accompanied by extracts of our conversations about home, our feet finally ‘meeting’ in these diptychs.
Alisa Oleva is a Russian artist living and working in London. She treats the city as her studio and urban life as material, to consider issues of urban choreography and urban archaeology, traces and surfaces, borders and inventories, intervals and silences, passages and cracks. Her projects have manifested as a series of interactive situations, performances, movements scores, personal and intimate encounters, parkour, walkshops, and audio walks.
“I have never made a film before. I have rarely made any visual documentation for my projects. Usually, my documentation results in some ephemeral traces, bits of audio, pieces of paper with notes and maps, or some objects found in the streets. However, due to the pandemic, Walking Home had to transform from a one-to-one physical performance in Istanbul (in which I would be meeting a participating woman and sharing a walk with her to a place she feels like home in the city), into a distant, one-to-one simultaneous walk over a phone conversation. This fragile connection over distance; the footsteps we were sharing at the same time; the sound of breathing heard through a phone; the few photos we exchanged as we walked; these things held the performance together and allowed those ‘walking home’ journeys to happen.
So, somehow, I felt the need to add some visual presence, some feeling that our feet could meet and walk next to each other in some way, across distance. The video could help to mark those footsteps as we were putting new places on the map – voicing the issues and feelings around the concept of home for women in modern day Istanbul. For each of the walks, footage was made of both my legs and the legs of the participating woman as we walked in London and Istanbul respectively. In the end I chose to put those videos next to each other, marking the moment of walking together and figuring out where it is that feels like home. Instead of the soundtrack, each video has some snippets of our conversation, discussing the concept of home, how it has changed during our lives, whether home connotes safety, and how women’s position towards the home is changing in Turkey. Some participants preferred to stay anonymous and some preferred their voice to be changed.
The film you will see is the result of putting together all of the 32 walks that took place with the 32 women in Istanbul. Walking Home has no narrative and just rolls from one walk to the next. Therefore, I suggest you might want to watch it step by step, tuning in and out, coming back to it from time to time. It will be available to watch for two months. “
Walking Home is produced with the support of British Council’s #WomenPowerinCulture Grant Scheme, in a collaboration between Performistanbul and Live Art Development Agency.
Alisa Oleva was the first artist invited to take part in an Artistic Development Programme for Performistanbul’s inaugural artist residency focused on performance artists (2020). The programme was supported by the British Council’s #WomenPowerinCulture Grant Scheme and developed in collaboration with Live Art Development Agency, (LADA), London.
The first part of Alisa’s programme consisted of mentoring and development sessions in London, and accessing LADA’s Study Room. For the second part of the residency, Alisa was invited to Turkey for ten days to benefit from PCSAA’s (Performistanbul Live Art Research Space) research facilities and to focus on the realisation of the performance work developed through her residency. Due to the impact of Covid-19 the project transformed and evolved from an intimate one to one performance on the streets of Istanbul into a work occupying a digital space. Alisa and the Performistanbul team found new ways and strategies to present an online platform without affecting the nature of the project and preserving the physicality and liveness of the performance by encouraging participants to walk around the city but in a different kind of ‘remote’ collaboration with the artist.
Between 19th of October and 8th of November 2020, Alisa in London walked with 32 women in Istanbul in one to one sessions by connecting via phones without the presence of an audience. The artist posed several questions to the participants in order to get a response to the meaning of “home”, and received various descriptions such as an actual home, a park, a seaside, a library or a place which reflects that feeling, or a person and an object.
In order to designate the starting points of the walks, participants were guided by a map that read the city through the locations of historical and forensic figures, artefacts and events related to women. Members of the Performistanbul team accompanied each participant and recorded the performances through image, video and sound materials all of which culminated on a website specially created for the project to present an overall archival data of the steps and conversations they had together. Some of the outcomes and impacts of the project are that it tackled crucial and urgent challenges around the topics of the Istanbul Convention, and led to the formation of a community of women in Istanbul.Performistanbul website
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