This year-long project is an exploration of the ways in which Toronto's waterfront district is understood as a place – not in the sense of it being a unique geographical location, but as the result of the mobility of people, ideas, and things – in other words, through its relationships to elsewhere. I'm particularly interested in how this is experienced by some of us in our everyday lives – especially by those who are, like myself, newcomers or temporary migrants – where memories of there always haunt our experience of here. How might artistic work draw further attention to this relationship between our imaginary and material worlds, the place where we used to live, and the place where we live now?
Walking would seem to be a straighforward and (literally) grounded way of making sense of a specific place. Yet it is also the perfect method for drifting off into our own thoughts, or of getting lost in converstation with others. As such, it provides us with one way to become wrapped-up in both here and there: with our feet on the ground, and our heads in the clouds.
I'll use walking as a way to find people to take part in this project, to find out about and experience everyday mobilities, and to create opportunities for a wider public to become involved in the project.
Over the course of the year, I'll develop a series of experiments with how we might experience 'place' in this way, and the constraints – or sense of possibility – that we might feel as a result. What is it like to have an embodied experience of the Waterfront, inseparable from intense recollections of life elsewhere? What is it to experience both here and there simultaneously? What does Toronto's waterfront become, as a place, when we hold these seemingly paradoxical things in tension with each other?
Many of these experiments will build on past examples of my 'walking work' – artworks made by walking, or about walking – that I developed over a ten-year period from the late 1990s onward. This work questioned some of the assumptions about what walking as art entails (whether it is a model for solitary and individualistic art practice, or a social and participatory one, for example); or the relationship between the grounded embodied experience of walking, and the social, cognitive and affective aspects of remembering, imagining, and talking with others.
This new project picks-up on these themes and methods, shaping them according to the specific conditions of Toronto's downtown waterfront district, and among the relationships between people, ideas, and things from which the city is formed.
This website documents this process of artistic experimentation, offering insight into a process by which practical and theoretical enquries (which often remain hidden from view in my work) are made public. These webpages will be updated throughout the year.
Over the last 30 years or so, I've made work that explores the relationships between social and technical networks, the social modalities of walking as art, and, most recently, collective negotiations of more-than-human social worlds. I represented Wales at the Venice Biennale of Fine Art (2003), was a member of award-winning net.art collective I/O/D (1993-2000), and was awarded a UK government NESTA Fellowship to research walking as contemporary art (2002-5). I often work in collaboration with other artists and researchers, and through partnerships with universities and museums. I am currently an Associate Researcher at the University of Exeter and an Eccles Fellow at the British Library.
More information at simonpope.info