Saturday, 10 September 2011

The Art of Walking: Richard Long

British artist Richard Long graduated from St. Martin's Academy in the late 60's and was a pioneer in the new wave of British Sculpture in the late 70's and early 80's - that included Tony Cragg, Antony Gormley, David Mach, Anish Kapoor, and Andy Goldsworthy to name a few (not many well-known women artists from this period!).

His practice centres on walking: he uses text, photography, and paintings and sculptural assemblages made from found materials - to produce works that evoke questions and experiences of place, situation and attention, often involving 'durational' processes (i.e. walks) that can take several days or even weeks to complete. Like the ephemeral, pain-stakingly contructed works of Andy Goldsworthy - his works remind (and perhaps even inspire) people of a different way of being in the world - a way of intense and sustained attention to, and quiet engagement with the world around us. That fact that he has undertaken these works in nearly every continent on Earth - also brings to mind a concept of Earth as a place - and what it means to be a witness to these diverse places and quiet, otherwise unobserved processes: water evaporating on stones in the Andes, a line walked in grassland, stones piled allong a pathway, lines made by walking…

Part of what makes these works so compelling (like other types of performance) is the sheer discipline and physical presecne and commitment, implied by the processes required to produce the work: the time, concetration, and quality of attention - they show us what is possible for a human to do, and to hold in mind.

Here is a selection of images collected from the net:

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