Walking Art With Hamish Fulton

17Sep09

Today I had my first experience with performance art.  Visiting artist Hamish Fulton set up and directed 3, 1  hour long works, which involved walking in groups around rectangular spaces.  Participants walked around the perimeter of a chosen rectangle taking exactly 15 minutes on each leg.  In this way, each walk would take exactly 1 hour to complete. During the walks no person was allowed to talk to each other, or to any bystanders.

  The first walk was around a city park which was around 2 average size city blocks long, the second was on a rectangular city block, and the third was around the perimeter of a small square wharf on the waterfront. Because of the diminishing size of the distance in each walk, the speed of walkers decreased immensely.  The number of people that attended each walk also decreased as the courses got smaller.  The second walk was different from the first one in that there was no longer a wide group of people walking. Instead the participants were spread out in single file until they formed a ring around the block and everyone was equally spaced. The line then proceeded to revolve around the rectangle until everyone returned to the place which they started in exactly one hour.  This was also how the third walk was conducted.

 

I found that these walks were very meditative and they drew the participants attention to their surroundings and to the physical way in which they walked. Throughout the walks, I noticed myself paying attention to the particular way in which I brought my feet in front of me and how I shifted my weight from side to side when lifting my feet. I also found that as the walks got slower and slower, I spent much more time contemplating thoughts and paying very close attention to the details of my surroundings. These walks also made me think about the passing of time and how it just flies by during a typical day.  While taking part in these walks I was able to grasp just how long an hour was, or how short it was. I don’t remember.  In any case, I felt these performance pieces hit their target of engaging the participant in active thinking.

The walks were also very successful in provoking and baffling passers by, who were almost more disturbed by the lack of response to their questions, than by the event itself.

Look up Hamish Fulton’s website for more information on his art.

He is a really nice guy and he has been doing this kind of stuff for quite a while.

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