Exhibition date: 1 June - 31 August 2013
'Walk On' is the first exhibition to examine the astonishingly varied ways in which artists since the 1960s have undertaken a seemingly universal act - taking a walk - as their means to create new types of art. The exhibition offers an as-yet-unwritten history of recent art practice. It proposes that, across all four of the last decades, artists have worked as kinds of explorers, whether making their marks on rural wildernesses or acting as urban expeditionaries. It argues that from land art to conceptual art, and from street photography to the essay-film, much of the important art of our time has been created through an act of walking.
The exhibition brings together nearly 40 artists who all make work by undertaking a journey on foot. In doing so, they all stake out new artistic territory. They do so whether using the city street as their studio, or the landscape as their natural habitat - as a place to dwell in and dwell upon rather than represent in conventional ways. Artists such as Richard Long have crossed countries and continents to create works, leaving traces of their movements on the land itself. Some walking artists only exhibit documents from their journeys, whether photographs, texts or artefacts. For them, the walk undertaken is itself the artwork - as a kind of performance over time - and anything else only evidence or documentation. Others, such as Bruce Nauman, have explored the infinite grammatical possibilities of walking: looking at how we walk shows the world who we are. Others still, such as Marina Abramovic, have walked on historic sites - undertaking an epic journey across the length of the Great Wall of China, in a symbolic act of separation and being re-united with her then collaborator Ulay. The exhibition includes several internationally celebrated artists alongside emerging figures who have created new works for the project.
'Walk On' is part of the Festival of the North East through June 2013: for more information see www.festivalne.com.
The exhibition is curated with Cynthia Morrison-Bell and artist Mike Collier in partnership with NGCA, and supported by Arts Council England. In 2013-14 the exhibition will tour to Aberdeen Art Gallery and Plymouth Art Gallery, organised by Art Circuit Touring Exhibitions, London.