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Excursion practices. Looking for a close place

ANNA KOZLOVSKAYA

Today, artistic practices are turning to performative forms. Excursion and walk become one of these practices and are often used by artists as a special approach to work with the place, its history, and contemporaneity.

 

On the one hand, such forms can be considered as practices of resistance to overproduction in a post-industrial society. On the other, excursion and walk are procedural and bodily practices that build a different dialogue with a place and include the physicality of the artist and the audience in the joint spatial choreography.

 

In the history of art, artists turned to the genre of excursions several times: the ‘flânerie’ described by V. Benjamin, the practices of the first avant-garde and excursions of the Dadaists in the 1920s, the walks of situationists in the 60s.

Changes in the concept of excursion in contemporary art practices are described on the example of two projects of the curatorial group “Enter and Permit”: “Let’s go for a walk with a neighbor” (May 2017) and “This is a very strange place” (June-July 2018), which was a part of 6-th Moscow International Biennale of Young Art. The artistic and ethical position of these projects is not to interfere in space through the creation of new physical works, since it is already filled with many meanings and objects.

Instead, we were trying to build an intangible “dialogue” with a place that existed for a long time before us and will last after. Key questions raised by project participants are: How can the human dimension be returned to a place we do not belong to? How to build personal connections with space? How to build a relationship with the place without “capturing” the territory, but by combining personal and social, local and global, everyday and unique? And, most important, how to build horizontal connections, which could include and involve each participant in the excursion narrative?

 

The practice of excursions has the potential that can be revealed if we focus not only on the subject of the story but also on the processes that occur during the narration between audience and narrator, audience and the place, narrator and the place. Excursion practices, as performative events, are capable to create such living constructions through personal dimension, collective action, and bodily co-existence. Such meetings may have the potential for dialogue, from which we are so unaccustomed. At such a moment, something far and alien can become close and inseparable from personal history.