WALKING WOMEN was a series of events conceived from a position of dismay. Despite the many, varied and brilliant women artists that we knew of making walking work, public discussion – in galleries, on the radio, at conferences – continued to assert the idea of the male psychogeographer as the sole practitioner of walking as an art practice. Determined to counter this inaccuracy, we asked ourselves how do we re-write a canon? How do we re-balance the perception of art, artists, and the use of walking as a creative practice? Can we not only imagine a future in which gender bias and skewed vision is destroyed, but actively build the pathway there?
As we talked to our networks, and brought partners onboard with the project, the potential of its reach evolved – engaging scholars, artists, institutions, and organisations in constructing a series of multi-faceted events. Walking works were programmed from artists including Claire Collison, The Walking Reading Group on Participation, Jennie Savage, Amy Sharrocks, Yasmeen Sabri, Kubra Khademi, Louise Ann Wilson, Rosana Cade and Dee Heddon. More than 50 artists presented their work, in walks, talks and film screenings at Somerset House in London, and at Forest Fringe in Edinburgh.
WALKING WOMEN created space in which artists and creative practitioners connected with one another and with new audiences for their work, generating debate, discussion and new knowledge. We did not seek to define the work of women using walking as some sort of type or genre, rather to celebrate the range and diversity of walking art made by women, and to counter the gender imbalance. A vital part of the events was a Wikipedia edit-a-thon session in which contributors created new pages for women artists using walking, and improved the entries of those already present. Wikipedia is an important repository of shared knowledge, with its pages ranking top in google searches. But less than 10% of its contributors identify as female, resulting in skewed content and gender bias. We made use of the Art+Feminism campaign’s excellent resources to train new editors and create a series of new entries.
Working with partners was essential to the success of the project – ensuring that the platform we constructed enabled as many participants and as large an audience as possible. The atmosphere of both weekends reflected this: they were sold out events, with a thrill in the air, charged with excitement.
- Clare Qualmann
WALKING WOMEN was curated by artists Clare Qualmann and Amy Sharrocks and delivered in partnership with LADA, Somerset House, The University of East London, Forest Fringe, Deveron Arts and Geography Workshop.
Listen to podcasts compiled from the events and a Resonance FM programme discussing WALKING WOMEN.
Qualmann and Sharrocks are compiling a LADA Study Room guide on Walking Women that will be available later in the autumn.
Date Posted: 27 September 2016