Plastic overshoes, clay, tape, plastelin, photographs, map
It is not in some hiding place that we will discover ourselves; it is on the road, in the town, in the midst of the crowd, a thing among things, a human among humans. Jean-Paul Sartre
After pandemic restrictions, I was drawn to experience the world I was taking part in, through the various walks in urban public space. The process of walking offers a phenomenologically coherent intertwining of body, mind, and vision. I was executing walks in random, central, and remote public spaces without controlling to what or to whom will I be exposed. I would turn into a street where something would attract me at that moment.
The random walks I was taking are captured in the clay I was walking on/in. Once it got its shape, the clay imprints attest the time in which random walking through public space is still possible, although continually threatened by gentrification, pandemic, and ecological crises. The imprints also speak to the contact with the city through its ground and with people that share that ground. The clay I was walking on/in was attached to my feet by a blue hygiene overshoe which, in parallel to its functionality and reference to its usual context, rendered my appearance as irregular and repulsive. That look demonstrated to be significant, since imperfection, and vulnerability, compared to constant optimization, efficiency, and self-representation in the physical and digital public space, bring to a different experience and understanding. The clay shoes attracted gazes that modified my act of looking.
The walk has a long history of straddling the barrier between public and private, it is an oscillating flow between inward and outward attention. From the 20th century onward, due to sensory overstimulation in urban public spaces, outward attention has been decreasing and it is taken to commercial stimuli and digital devices. In March 2020, the pandemic and quarantine shed new light on the meaning of public space. How do we experience public space and its users in the present time? Like an opportunity to learn more about each other and build a sense of belonging or like an origin of estrangement?