«I love walking in London» , said Mrs Dalloway

 

This project is based on the 19th century phenomenon, the flaneur. The flaneur was used by the philosopher, Walter Benjamin, to denote the modernity of the big city. A flaneur is a walking observer of the city, one who walks and looks around without really having anything specific to do. The flaneur is a masculine figure of privilege and leisure. He is an independent observer of the urban city, without taking part in consumer capitalism. He explores, observes and walks around the city. He has both the time and the opportunity to walk around the big city, and is both a part of the urban, but also outside for he is both an actor and an observer. He is stimulated by large crowds, but also alienated by the crowd.

The Flaneuse. The woman in role of the flaneur;  it is rarely written about in the history of literature about females in this role. If I define the “flaneuse” as a woman who behaves like a flaneur, this is not an adequate definition. The flaneuse is not a female trying to behave like a man, but rather a female experiencing the city as an entirely separate notion, in her own unique and independent way. Historically, the notion of wandering around the city with money and time, was a privilage to men, for a woman it was a risk to take, and the notion was associated to the masculine. 

 However the flaneuse, has always existed and will always exist. A prime example is Virginia Woolf.  This project shows the female wanderer, the flaneuse, strolling the streets in a similar way. A flaneuse may have been perceived as distant from reality and unattainable in her time, however the female flaneuse continues to walk, looking at the city through her free thoughts and dreams.

 

In this project, I will be archiving my walks through a drawing practice.  I’m interested in the notion of place, how it is connected at the same time to the future, present and past through its place, shaping a notion of connectedness with others in a city when wandering alone. A sense of freedom of imagination and existence can exist.

 

Instructions to the Flaneuse:

to add oneself in a stranger’s shadow

 you are there

 just barely touching the ground

to escape close your eyes

A secret intimate movement

And the risk of disconnection

In shapes found sideways and beyond

through a shining darkness

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