Whilst walking we change places; we learn from each experience and are informed by the changes made and traces left by others. The ever-constant traces we leave on the environment around us are complex and are often a result of more than a single person’s actions. Walking, although often considered a solitary act, is only possible as we know it due to many others’ traces. These traces, as well as conditions outside of our control, mean that no walk is the same, each is different, diverse and impossible to replicate.
The participatory performances I create involve a detailed exploration into our embodied relationship with the rural landscape. With a particular focus on walking, our choices and our effect on the environment, I ask my audience to consider the effect that their movement within the landscape and everyday actions can have.
In Leaving Traces Whilst Walking, which I completed while studying Fine Art at Lancaster University, I specifically focused on the traces that are left whilst walking; using research regarding the actions of John Muir and the Sierra Club, and the English Countryside Code I proposed that it is possible for us to have an effect on a place before we’ve even been there. A notion that opened up discussions about our collective actions, choices and desires, spreading the responsibility of change beyond the single person creating it.
To ground these ideas and provide context, throughout the performance I asked my audience to walk with me up and down a large and empty room. Through this collective action, I was able to reveal how we were leaving traces in the room and that although some traces may not be immediately visible that does not mean they didn’t take place or have an effect.
As I continue to develop my artwork and performance practice, mobilities is a large consideration and aspect of my investigations. I continually aim to delve deeper into the effects of our movement and choices, not just considering the actions that we are aware of but those where we become a part of a chain of desire or collective actions. And as my practice continues to be the way I express my concerns about the planet and climate, peacefully asking my audience what they would like to do next restores the feeling of power and perhaps also a desire for change and protest.
Therefore, mobilities within my artwork often becomes a consideration of human choice and the way the resulting actions have an affect and spread far wider than we can first imagine. I aim to create an awareness of this choice and the potential power for change that we each hold. However, rather than telling my audience what I believe they should do, I hope that my exploration of a variety of points of view and questions allow them to realise their own way forwards.
The realisation of a way forwards has become the main focus of my newest performance Past – Present – Future. I begin the performance with a proposition about the ways our actions within the rural landscape and our actions to protect it link to the past, present and future. Throughout my proposition I use phrase cards to punctuate the text and objectify certain words and points of view. Then by later asking my audience to choose the card that resonated with them the most, I require them to take ownership of their point of view in a way they may have never done before. Their thoughts become tangible but also partially detached from the setting in which they might usually associate them. I believe this prepares the audience for a discussion that is level and potentially powerful, something that I hope to achieve by then asking five simple questions. These questions are meant for consideration and I do not expect to receive full answers, rather to provide the opportunity for guided thought and to gather a live response from my otherwise silent audience.
In summary, I feel it is important that within my performance practice I do not just use mobilities to consider the initial actions of walking, movement and choice but rather delve deeper into why the actions are completed and if they can lead to a sustainable future. Through continually asking myself and others these questions I hope to be able to explore the condition of our climate in a way that is delicate but also highly thought provoking.
I will be performing both Leaving Traces Whilst Walking and Past – Present – Future at the Buxton Festival Fringe in July 2019. This is the first time these two artworks will be performed together to form my first solo show and fringe debut A Moment of Rural Walking.
Georgina primarily explores the unique and embodied relationships we each have with the rural landscape. Through critically engaging with the concepts of trace, collective action and the complexity of walking she develops participatory performances that encourage her audience to re-evaluate their own points of view, environmental beliefs and relationship with the rural landscape.
Having previously studied Fine Art at Lancaster University, Georgina will start an MA in Contemporary Art Practice at the Royal College of Art in September 2019 where she hopes to build upon current and previous work to further explore what human movement and collective action could mean for the future.