(Dis)enchantments and Perambulations: walking-with intangible cultural heritage, coerced walking and reluctant heritage.

Posted on 16.06.2020 - 16:55 by Richard S. White
Individual items and folders offer materialisations, orientations and documentation presented as an integral part of the Creative Practice as Research project

This submission presents findings and makings drawn from an emergent hybrid participatory walking and multi-media arts practice, contextualised within and around specific heritage narratives. The thesis features two walking arts case studies: Honouring Esther (2015-17), a project based on walking the route of a Nazi Death March, and Sweet Waters (2017), a cycle of walks exploring the legacies of slave-ownership in Bath. In both case studies, registers of walking are juxtaposed in a creative exploration motivated by a social justice desire to realise agency in heritage as process. Honouring Esther represents an early iteration of walking-with exploring dissonant interventions to stimulate empathic dialogues. Sweet Waters develops a further iteration of the approach as a critical creative unsettling of an authorised heritage narrative. In the Humanities, an interest in affect, sensation and the corporeal, described broadly as the ‘affective’ turn, has unfolded a space valuing contributions from artistic practice. This Creative Practice as Research undertaken in that intra-disciplinary space contributes to the ‘creative’ turn thus afforded; this is a walking arts engagement with the practices of heritage.

The submission brings together activist concerns underpinned by a focus on the walking itself. Through developing an understanding of the somatic, embracing an alertness to the more-than-representational, a co-creative walking and multi-media approach has emerged. Attending to matter and the power of things, drawing on embodied experience and curated content, a critically questioning and retelling of heritage narratives begins. Grounded in the body and bodies in motion, walking and questioning, new knowledge and understandings are produced as part of an intangible cultural heritage process. Walkers become critical story carriers.

The submission presents iterations of walking-with as an emergent walking arts practice exploring particular heritage contexts. In these contexts walking-with generates empathic dialogues and builds solidarity in attending to difficult, reluctant, heritages. In addition to indicating new directions for this creative practice and observations of possible interest to research in related fields, I propose walking-with as a non-confrontational approach of potential value for working creatively with other dissonant and complex heritage narratives.


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