City as Performative Object shown in London

Our walking essay has been shown in a very charming exhibition between 3-6 October 2019. Find below the kind letter that was send to us by the curators. They express how the work resonated in the context of the exhibition and park.

Dear Esther and Ivar

Thank you so much for giving us permission to include your work The City as Performative Object in the exhibition Notes of an Urban Pedestrian, Mecklenburgh Square Garden Project, London, 2019. Your work was an important element in the exhibition providing a base for, and opening up, ideas to do with walking in the city – connecting with the other artworks included and making possibilities for future artworks apparent. 

Esther’s sharing of ideas in this video connects with the tradition of teaching as art practice at the same time that this is clearly a very personal exploration of ideas. The ‘in process’ nature of the walking essay makes the work dialogic and part of a larger conversation around walking in the city. It is interesting how Esther is trying to find new terminologies to fit the processes and categories she develops for different players (the biker, the walker, the skater…) in the city and how they act in specific ways and operate with unwritten rules. Her Situationist twist to Judith Butler’s thoughts about gender changes how we think about both Butler’s ideas and what could be a present-day connection to Situationism as a result. 

As the work was exhibited in a semi-outside space, the garden shed, neither the home nor the outdoors, it gave the work an interesting slant in how it was viewed, perhaps giving a context that was more connected to the types of experience described in the video than usual. One could have the strange experience of watching it and listening on headphones to Esther walking on a footpath but then becoming aware that someone was actually walking on a gravel path and entering the shed – the essay in footsteps extended into new spaces. There was food for thought in the contrast between the immediacy and intimacy of the background sounds that accompany Esther’s description of where she is walking and the google map visuals that track her movements, making a particular kind of visual record of what is taking place (as well as some very amusing vertical ascensions in the digital landscape). 

Best wishes, Clair and Clare