Walking is a technique present in the artworks of Francis Alÿs and David Adamo, who have made interactive pieces created through this simple physical activity through which large groups of people actively participate and also see the landscape change as a result.
Influenced by the casual strolls of the French flâneur, upper-class gentlemen who walk through the city, Alys calculates how he walks, where he goes, and what we see. As part of his methodology, Alÿs is adamant about mapping out the cities extensively before carrying out his performances, but he will deny to his participants the orchestration of the event as rumor. His work carries a whimsical charm and a simplicity, but he generates complex narratives. His piece Seven Walks was comprised of long strolls through various locations in London, and his 1997 epic peripatetic work Practice of Praxis 1 (Sometimes Making Something Leads to Nothing), involved Alÿs pushing a massive block of ice through Mexico City for 9 hours until it melted.
Adamo, who works primarily in sculture, had featured at PS1′s Greater New York exhibition with a piece thematizing the stroll. He lay baseball bats to form a surface on the floor of one of the galleries, forcing participants to walk on the piece. In recent works, Adamo documented his individual walkabouts, discussing his interest in the New York City Marathon, and citing the MTA videos as a great influence. In an interview during Performa ’07, Adamo mentioned how he wished to participate in the annual 26.2 mile run, but instead made a performance piece that ran parallel to the New York City Marathon. He “[started] at 10 am at the same time as the marathon, from home…”, then walked through the Metropolitan Museum of Art, before finally “[walking] back home. It’s my own private marathon.”
Check out David Adamo’s featured piece for Immaterial on Paddle8
Check out Francis Alÿs monograph in Phaidon’s page for Paddle8
Marina Abramovic curates Immaterial.