Black Walks is an on-going performance project that has taken place in Tokyo, London, Paris and Berlin to date. The artist performs long durational walks through each city, alone or with participants, with a black flag in her hand. This walk and symbol have become an attractor and reflector of each city’s fears, concerns and narratives.
“I walk through cities as a human ‘measure’: to measure spaces through the body…”
Urbanization is a central aspect of contemporary human ecology. Within this structured existence, human movement is ‘choreographed’ to fit, so as to be apprehended: commuter, consumer, protester, vagrant, loiterer.
Black Walks has taken place in four capital cities since 2012. Centered around a black flag, it sets out to poetically explore the notion of citizenship and what it means to ‘belong’ in the city. Both pilgrimage and revolt, the walks weave urban narratives through cities. From Tokyo to London, Paris and Berlin this performance has developed into a ‘transmitter’ that both attracts and reflects current public opinions and fears.
In the powerful symbolism attached to the black flag, inspired by Kazimir Malevich’s painting ‘Black Square’, his ‘return to zero’ in painting, Black Walks attempts to ‘deconstruct’ the associations linked to this action, flag and colour and thereby allow viewers and participants to reassess the roots of their own judgements. Is it ISIS? Am I a fascist? An anarchist? “A woman all on her own leading a revolution”?
The first walk took place in Tokyo: a meditation on the character of the ‘gaijin’/the foreigner. In London, the walk considered the politics of ‘loitering’, following paths of immigration along the Thames. In Paris tracing a 50 km spiral around the city, inspired by the ancient Kumano Kodo pilgrimage routes of Japan, and ostensibly seeking the 'sacred in the urban environment'. In Berlin, walking along the verticalities of 'gentrification' that replace the Wall and then considering how horizontality alters our perception of the terrain. And through all the walks, exploring a physiological orientation within the context of borders.
Black Walks is a movement project that inspires collaboration, invites discussion and creates a record of the changing preoccupations of different societies. As a roaming art project it responds to many of the contemporary yearnings for collectivity, a-politicism, simplicity, silence.
"You walk the walk instead of talking the talk..." (comment from an observer)