Simon Pope | Toronto Waterfront artist-in-residence 2023
Altro posto (Performance Corridor)

Corridor at George Brown college

A corridor for walking and remembering

The premise of this project is that 'place' is experienced through mobility, and through relationships to other places – to elsewhere. In this experimental artwork, I play on the title and function of a very well-know artwork, Bruce Nauman's 'Walk with Contrapposto', to provide a way to articulate our experience of a simultaneous "here and there", of physically being on one place, while thinking of another.

The title of Nauman's work translates, literally, as 'contrast', or 'opposing place' and comes from a life-model pose, where body-weight is shifted onto one leg to relax the opposite hip. Nauman performs this within what he called a "performance corridor" – a sculptural construction which featured in many of his subsequent artworks.

Here, I play on this idea of a shift from one place to another, from here to there, with our body walking within the corridor, while our mind wanders elsewhere.

'Altro Posto' involves walking with participants along a corridor at the George Brown College Waterfront Campus, talking about other places. This venue becomes a "performance corridor" – which makes a particular art historical reference to Nauman, and a link to research that I've undertaken previously on the interactions between walking and the recollection of mobility.

Signage at George Brown College

Signage used at George Brown Waterfront Campus, November 2023.

Nauman's Performance Corridor

When I first became interested in walking as an artistic technique, I was inevitably drawn to Bruce Nauman's early performances. We see the artist moving in various exaggerated ways around his studio, making the bare minimum of "marks" that constitute an artwork.

In Walk with Contrapposto, Nauman moves through a simple corridor structure made from "wallboard" panels – the material from which many studios, as subdivisions of larger architectural spaces, are constructed. Nauman strikes a 'contrapposto' pose -shifting his weight from side-to-side, in the manner of a life-model.

Nauman also used this Performance Corridor in a series of subsequent performance and video art works, operating as a constraint to body-movement, and to focus attention on the artist's or participants' performance between its walls.

Initially, I had intended to construct a version of Nauman's "performance corridor" with Construction Engineering students at another George Brown College campus. The corridor would use same dimensions as the original (8 feet x 20 feet x 1 foot 8 inches) and similar materials (unfinished drywall & timber).

Contrapposto corridor

(Photo of the original corridor is courtesy Photo © 2018 Bruce Nauman/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)

Harking back…

Even though we were unable to realize this particular aspect of the project, we decided to proceed with using one of the main corridors on the George Brown Waterfront Campus. This harks back to an experiment that I conducted in 2006 with then-trainee clinical psychologist Dr. Vaughan Bell at the Maudsley Hospital in south London (UK) as part of the Wellcome Trust-funded project 'Walking Here & There'. In the experiment, we used a "veering test" which involved participants walking, blindfolded, down a long corridor while recalling a walking that they had undertaken immediately beforehand in a nearby park. In this test, participants begin to veer towards the sides of corridor as they recall and describe their movements – so, for example, when describing "turning right along a path" they turn their body and veer to the right. This research led to the development of Gallery Space Recall (more information here) and was marked the beginning of the development of a series of artworks that explored the interactions of the articulation of memories and walking.

The Veering Test

Still from 'veering test' at Maudsley Hospital, South London; from the research project Walking Here & There with Dr. Vaughan Bell. (2006)

Special thanks to: Simone, Rubaina, and Sarah for walking the Performance Corridor with me; and for Nerys and her colleagues at George Brown College for their help in organizing the event.

Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA Attribution-NoDerivatives licence applies to all the artwork, texts, etc. contained within and described on this website.

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