walking one to ten/ march 2000
salon 3 [Hans Ulrich Obrist, Maria Lind, Rebecca Gordon Nesbit] invited me to come up with an appropriately scaled project for their modest-space-with-big-ambitions inside the Elephant & Castle shopping centre. I’d already planned to use a sub-series of my e.things -ten texts which accumulated into walking one to ten- to make a series of films called Head in the Clouds. Instead, I used them to ‘seed’ this programme of artist’s videos.
The walking involved my actual nocturnal habit of looping between Balfour Street and Waterloo Bridge, which detoured around the E&C at that time. So it was peculiarly fitting that the original week-long screening of the programme was at salon 3’s space. Celine Condorelli collaborated in the making of my contribution to w1-10 [screen-grabs below] and ably assisted with that first realisation.
I curated the programme on the basis that the artist’s work had varying peculiar relationships with film-making -including none! This was important because I wanted them to respond to the rhythms and ‘lightness’ of my words rather than ‘film’ the texts. The curating of artists was precise and their brief was to make anything they wanted from/of a single word or/to all of them.
Fiona Banner had by then, for example, painted her worded responses to movies, notably Apocalypse Now in The Nam. Characteristically, she took up the challenge to make her first ever film/s for walking 1-10. Similarly, I knew Jeremy Deller was assembling VHS footage of anti-globalisation protests and preparing a project that became the Orgreave film with Artangel. I remember him asking if he could ‘have the political one’ [walking nine] to work with, before cutting his first film too.
Cerith Wyn Evans had long since stopped working with Derek Jarman and making his own Super 8 films etc. to reconfigure his practice around sculptural installation etc. This singular combination was perhaps reflected in his reshooting a segment of Brion Gysin’s film containing the magical line “I’m in a 1950s movie” -which had often provoked early morning hilarity amongst friends. I’d seen Mark Aerial Waller’s films; shot in infrared and very much indoors. For w1-10 he concocted a drama from my texts and shot it in infrared ‘without’ doors...
An edition of the programme was due to launch on the very day that the [old] Lux went into receivership. I was away -mainly on the Great Rann of Kachchh- for many months over the next couple of years [see 1039seconds], the moment never recovered. However, w1-10 can still be hired from Lux and the texts will find their way into selected/collected print soon...
When I walk I walk alone. Without you. And so do you. You walk alone and without me. We walk alone, always. Forever. Because we must, or we don't. Walk. It's that simple. So when I walk I walk alone, in my bones, in the bones of man, in the great weary old universal boneness of things, literal but still magnificent. Walking alone. Like you, like me, all of us, always alone in our step-stepping. Walking alone. And when we depart we depart alone and when we arrive we arrive, we summit, we peak, we ascend alone. Of course. How could it be otherwise? We walk alone, you and I. Proudly, beautifully, thoughtfully, athletically, with or without grace, with a hot or cold brain we walk alone. Near or far from the floor, from the sand, the grit, the stuff of things, from the desert, the wet ground, the mountain's scree or rhododendron leaves. Alone, we walk. Alone. We walk. We walk alone you and I. In our brains, in our matter, our material being in the world, but mostly we walk alone in our contagious fantasies of being. We walk alone in that imagined space, atmospheric, virtual, inside out, but in any case imagined. We walk alone in our imagination filled with millions of years of Being, carrying the infection of generations, of every hand ever touched, every heart ever felt, every millilitre of sweat drunk. We walk alone in that forest and feast and the fantasies of imagined space, populated by open hands of time. Yours and mine. Alone in our feet, on our plains of self, in the future perfect past and in the ancient future now. We walk alone you and I, always. And forever. Walking alone. Ford Madox Ford. He walked alone into the city of London past the milestone now restored to St Georges' Circus. Jawaharlal Nehru, walked alone past his British guards into his hot productive cell. Paul Celan: he walked to the bridge alone that night, still trembling. Muhammad Ali you walk alone, floating, stinging, standing still on principle. The Buddha continuously walks alone as necessarily as you and I, who tread that solitary dignified path. Daddy you walked alone when your feet touched foreign English soil. Mummy you walked alone when you learnt to walk again. When I walk, I walk alone. Like you, we walk alone simultaneously, in series, across, below and above each other, in time and out of time. We walk alone. We walk alone and we know, and we breath and we fly in the most vital sense. In our minds, and that's why we walk alone; to fly high and to fly always in our minds. A better arc cut there than by those literal birds. And I walked alone tonight clearing the only mind that I can, flying in my special idiosyncratic and shivered up insistent way. And no one will ever prevent me from that walking; always alone, in flight, in calm glory. Tonight.
So I was walking, walking as I decreasingly have. And thinking, about the cold, the wet, the winter of it. Along salmon pavements under toilet tissue trees, all dressed up and down for the inner city. And thinking. About justice. Walking along thinking about justice. And what it is and what it would mean. And glad. Glad to care. Even though the word justice comes in religious ink, its comically accurate to say that it is the concept of the word justice that is meant when using the word. And that's negotiable, or variable. Or decidable. Actually. Justice is decidable. And so I thought that there's no point in using a different word for it. A word like good, for example. Because good is riddled with Nietzschean wit, even if I associate it with the beard of Karl Marx. Myself. But thinking, walking, wintering in justice. And my pleasure at the happy fate of General Augusto Pinochet. Wondering why I laugh, why I cry about Pinochet. Knowing very well, that it's about the justice thing, justice for specific faces I've met on mountains in the sun. Justice catching up with Pinochet who represents the opposite. So if justice means nothing to you, Pinochet -as its opposite- will. It means not so much the barbarism of his acts, his orders, his responsibilities. To me. It's not that so much. It's not that that makes me involved, emotionally and intellectually. Not that. So much, but the way its okay, the way that brutality when combined with wealth and power always finds friends. The complacent, careless, complicity. And that's what boils my heart and eye. It's that that injustice represents. So my real anger about Pinochet, whom I think justice is wasted on, and who I think deserves just a boot in the head, is to do with the complicity that crowned him. It's Margaret Thatcher that boils my heart and eye. It's her, and her shop-keeper's eager, proud celebration of him and his acts, his barbarity, his grotesque lack of human heart or mind. That offends. That's more disgusting. To me, really. That is what injustice means to me. So I was walking with this, walking towards a point at which decisions have to be made. A point at which there is nowhere to run, hide or glide in mink to tea. And for me, in walking, thinking, about justice. For me, for them, there is the revolutionary scaffold. Yes. I return to my scaffold and I think I'd haul Margaret Thatcher up there first. Of the two. I'd meet her head on and win. I think I would because there would be justice. Because an animal with no humanity, a brutal murdering fool. Is one thing. Deliberate celebratory and considered support. Is another. It's worse. It is the enabler. And as I walked, I couldn't get it out of my mind. Past Ford's now glorious obelisk at St Georges Circus. Out of the fields. All lit up proudly and justly, saying a mile or so to London Bridge, to Fleet Street. And to Westminster Hall. A mile to the head of Charles I, more than a mile then to the site of his scaffold. Where, under certain conditions, and for particular reasons of condensed history, or for pure and good reasons of symbolism. Decisive acts are necessary in the face of injustice and in order to establish a new order free of it. And so I was walking and was unable to leave behind the notion. Passing the obelisk with its precise number of feet to Westminster with Pinochet in my head and on my back and leaping out of my cheering eyes. That in principle and in those exceptional cases I simply cannot extend justice to them, or rather I simply don't wish to waste, to share, to grace them with it. So I'd take them up and I'd draw them down. And that's justice. That's justice. In the name of the many. In the name of the many feet I have walked, thoughts I've thought. On Salmon streets, under shitty skies, walking in order to think clearly, to think again. I found justice out there, justice at the line. Which I crossed tonight.