A programme of events that places women at the centre of discussions and debates about walking and art. Part of UTOPIA 2016: A Year of Imagination and Possibility – Four Seasons of events, exhibitions and new commissions celebrating the idea of utopia to mark the 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s influential text.
The invisibility of women in what appears as a canon of walking is conspicuous; where they are included, it is often as an ‘exception’ to an unstated norm, represented by a single chapter in a book or even a footnote.
– Heddon and Turner (2012) ‘Walking Women: Shifting the Tales and Scales of Mobility’ Contemporay Theatre Review, Vol. 22(2), 2012, p. 225
How do we re-write a canon? How do we re-balance the perception of art, artists, and the use of walking as a creative practice? Can we not only imagine a future in which gender bias and skewed vision is destroyed, but actively build the pathway there?
These events are a step on that path. Bringing together artists from across disciplines – theatre makers, writers, sculptors, film makers, poets, live artists and visual artists with academics, curators and cultural critics to discuss, present, create, record, broadcast and make public the work of WALKING WOMEN.
From Sophie Calle to Marina Abramovic, Nancy Holt to Patti Smith, Michèle Bernstein to Janet Cardiff, women across the arts have long used walking in their creative practice: as method, outcome, performance, transgression, protest, radical reclamation of space and everyday action. This series of events acknowledges and celebrates their work, sharing practice through walking artworks, talks and discussions.
WALKING WOMEN seeks to create a space in which artists and creative practitioners can connect with one another and with new audiences for their work, generating debate, discussion and new knowledge, with the goal of raising the visibility of these practices.
Artist's walks and talks will run alongside a Wikipedia edit-a-thon of women walking artists, an open mic Pecha-Kucha, and special editions of LADA's Study Room and The Walking Library, featuring books by, about and related to walking women.
Go for a walk with extracts from Clare Qualmann and Claire Hind’s book Ways to Wander, spend an hour, or a day, travelling on Amy Sharrocks’ Bus Pass, give yourself up to Jennie Savage’s audio walk The Guide to Getting Lost.
Join writer, artist and breast cancer survivor, Claire Collison for An intimate tour of breasts, exploring their mythologies and commodification throughout history to the present day.
The Walking Reading Group on Participation (Lydia Ashman, Ania Bas and Simone Mair) lead a walk discussing ideas of Utopia; artistic director Anna Birch introduces her women’s suffrage inspired film March, made with Glasgow Women’s Library and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland; Lois Keidan, Director of the Live Art Development Agency, discusses the Afghani artist Kubra Khademi’s radical walking protest performance art; writer and journalist Anna Minton and geographer Jo Norcup respond to artists' talks by Clare Qualmann, Amy Sharrocks, and Jennie Savage; artist-researcher Dee Heddon takes her Walking Library for Women Walking on a suffragette inspired route; artist-researcher Alison Lloyd presents her work recovering histories of women land artists of the 1960s and 70s; performance maker Louise Ann Wilson discusses her site-specific walks Warnscale and Fissure; academics Dee Heddon and Cathy Turner discuss their research on Women Walking and how we might further open up questions on what it means to walk, who walks and where. Plus: film screenings, pecha-kucha format artists’ talks, a Wikipedia edit-a-thon, and LADA’s library of WALKING WOMEN books.
Note: the deadline for artists' opportunities to get involved and show their work has passed – see here
Look out for a LADA Study Room Guide on WALKING WOMEN being created by Amy Sharrocks and Clare Qualmann.
WALKING WOMEN is curated by Amy Sharrocks and Clare Qualmann in collaboration with Dee Heddon.
It is presented in partnership with Somerset House, The Live Art Development Agency, The Walking Artists Network, The University of East London, Deveron Arts, Forest Fringe and Geography Workshop. A series of radio programmes tying in to the events will be broadcast on Resonance FM.
Amy Sharrocks is a live artist, sculptor and film-maker who invites people to come on journeys in which their own experience, communication and expression are a vital part. She makes a lot of live artworks about our daily trips and stumbles, and in 2012 she won the Sculpture Shock award from the Royal British Society of Sculptors for her work on falling. She has made many walking works, for one person or many: her work SWIM (2007) saw 50 people swim across London. Recently she has been walking in different cities via mobile phone, exploring the creation of virtual worlds where you no longer share a physical presence, just a voice in someone's ear. In 2013 she created the award-winning Museum of Water, which has toured the UK and Europe for 3 years, and was nominated for European Museum of the Year 2016
Clare Qualmann is an artist/researcher with an interdisciplinary performance oriented practice. Her work engages a range of participatory methods, and a range of media to explore and reveal the overlooked – the politics and potentials of everyday life. She facilitates the Walking Artists Network, alongside her own projects that use walking as process, method and outcome for instigating and investigating exchanges between people and places. Recent commissions include walkwalkwalk: stories from the Bethnal Green archive (2010) a permanent installation of architectural text-works in Bethnal Green Old Town Hall, Perambulator, (2014) a participatory performance/walking project (with prams) for Deveron Arts in Huntly (Aberdeenshire) and East End Jam (2015) a collaborative walking, foraging and jam making project commissioned by the London Legacy Development Corporation.
UTOPIA 2016 is four seasons of activity celebrating the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s Utopia. Published in Leuven in December 1516, More’s Utopia presented an imaginative and playful vision of the world as it could be at a time of great change. More’s Utopia is deliberately ambiguous: both “no place” and “good place”, he is clear that many other visions for society are possible. Through a series of exhibitions, events, new commissions, talks and workshops, UTOPIA 2016 will explore the broad cultural history of the idea of utopia and its relevance to 21st-Century cultural, ecological, and social challenges and opportunities. The year celebrates the pivotal role of the arts and culture in creating spaces where utopian dreams are possible. Throughout UTOPIA 2016 people from all walks of life will be invited to experiment with new ways we might live, make, work, play and dream.
UTOPIA 2016 is a collaboration between three neighbours: Somerset House, King’s College London and the Courtauld Institute and Gallery, in partnership with the British Library, the AHRC, the British Council, London School of Economics and Politics, Guardian Live and Verso and will also engage many of the 300 plus creative organisations, artists and makers resident at Somerset House.
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