Walk walk walk: an archaeology of the familiar and the forgotten is a participatory live art event, with a walk at its core. The project begins with an exploration of urban routine. Starting from the routes we take to and from work and home, part time jobs and friends houses, we established a methodology for the systematic exploration of the areas in and around Bethnal Green, Spitalfields and Whitechapel. Stepping outside, or aside from the absorption of the day to day in order to examine the places that we pass through and the narrative of pathways afresh.
Drawing on precedents and ideas ranging from the never performed Dada walks in the ‘terrains vagues’ of 1920s Paris, to Iain Sinclair’s investigation of Rodinsky’s London walks in the late 1990s, we began to re-explore our walks through and across the east end. Creating a new routine: meeting at the same time and place each week to walk and work we have exhaustively researched this locale. Walking individually, then walking one anothers’ routes has shown us each new spaces, sights and places that alone we might never have encountered.
Collecting and collating artefacts and anecdotes from our research walks has been the starting point for the ‘archaeology’ of the subtitle. Objects, images and descriptions from the route speak of the real physicality of the city fringe – the places where it extends out into the edge and vice-versa. The walk we have created will take you to the cut off spaces trapped between railway and road, down alleyways that block the less-than-determined from pursuing a route through, past ‘fine art’ graffiti, a Hawksmoor church, numerous taxi garages and abandoned pubs in a continuously evolving cityscape.
Handing our route over to others (in map form) becomes an exciting and nerve wracking proposition. Although experienced in public space the walk to date has been essentially a private experience, only occasionally punctuated by an encounter with others or shared amongst friends. The question that is raised, and cannot yet be answered, is will our experience of the walk, and the spaces, be changed by other peoples’ walking and their re-interpretation of the experience?