Monday, March 07, 2011

on the road: radical pedestrianism

On Saturday, March 5, 2011, as part of our current exhibition, ON THE ROAD, Baltimore artist Graham Coreil-Allen unlocked the secret lives of Arlington's liminal spaces--and invited a select group of tour-takers to enter the world of Radical Pedestrianism.

What, you may ask, is a radical pedestrian? "If a pedestrian," the artist tells us, "is simply a person traveling by foot, a radical pedestrian is one who travels by foot through infinite sites of freedom while testing the limits of--and redefining--public space."

You say "trespassing"; Graham says "drifting direct action" and "insightful discourse".

Pictured: Graham hands out buttons and signed, limited edition tour-only maps.

Twenty people joined Graham for his tour of Arlington's
New Public Sites--overlooked or marginalized spaces that the artist extensively catalogs in a book available at aac and downloadable for free here.

From the intro of The Typology of New Public Sites:

Somewhere between a suburban strip mall and its urban surroundings lies a poetic amalgam of space both epic and discrete. Situated within disparate zones of overlap, contradiction, ambiguity and interstice, the ongoing New Public Sites project investigates the ways in which invisible sites and overlooked features exist within our everyday environment. Based on a critical approach to understanding public space, this project proposes alternatives for signifying and activating sites through urban analysis, mapping, installations, video, tours, and this book.

The tour begins!

Graham invites participants to join him in Seclusion Acres.

Seclusion Acres: A void of privacy surrounded/by gathered screens of green.

Graham leads the group to our next stop: The Perpendicular Extreme.

Perpendicular Extreme: When walking planes juxt/opposing sharp mass,/standing tall over/whelming spatial balance.

Graham points out how sometime in the past, clever Arlingtonians have laid stones to ease their passage diagonally from sidewalk to parking lot.

Graham encourages the crowd to touch and investigate the Box of Uncertainty--do the people living in the tower really expect us to believe that they don't experience comfortable heating and cooling? What compels them to hide the devices that provide this comfort? Food for thought.

Box of Uncertainty: A box of harmonious form/and demeanor, ever so/quietly undone by subtleties/of sound and/or entropy.

HVAC Exhaling: Passing through grates of expulsion/ building lungs release/Heating, Ventilating,/sonic Air Conditions.

The building is breathing!

Graham cautions us not to look across the street: The building is cloaked by an invisible screen of security. (Please: No pictures! Men in uniforms will stop you. Not kidding.)

Onward in search of the Empty Signifier.

Graham draws our attention to the Empty Signifier--an incomplete sign, referring to a never-created development, appropriately stranded in the middle of a funeral home parking lot.

Empty Signifier: A post or pole absent/its original sign and/or meaning.

(Where is this "Club"? When and how might we join? Sounds luxurious.)

Anti-berm: A linear strip of earth/serving as path and platform,/that frames and directs one/towards an adjacent site.

Watercourse: A channel of bed and banks,/through which water flows.

Margie, one of the tour-takers, informed us that this is actually an underground stream, briefly emerging here by the tennis courts. Despite our having learned this, the Watercourse still retains its aura of mystery.

Having passed under the Skygate (not pictured), we head for the Median Refuge.

Graham considers stopping traffic, but thinks better of it. Should've brought the bullhorn!

Median Refuge: A liminal zone of linear respite/between parallels of churning traffic.

Radical Pedestrianism seems to require a significant adjustment in your thinking about where you should or shouldn't stand/walk/be.

Uniforms are important. Especially in performance art.

Secret souvenirs: Graham encourages us to find our own keepsakes here in the heart of the Void.

Void: A framed, open space imbued/with the psychic presence of a former mass/and or the profound immersion/of seductively infinite nothingness.

Having thus been thoroughly seduced, our weary band breaks up and heads home, perhaps considering new paths over, around, and through previously familiar (now exotic-seeming) terrain.


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