«I love walking in London» , said Mrs Dalloway
This project is based on the 19th century phenomenon, the flaneur(s)e. The flaneur holds a nostalgic positioning, as a symbol of 19 th century modernity, of the anonymous man and the urban crowd. The flaneur was used by the philosopher, Walter Benjamin and Baudelaire, 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.
But how does this nostalgic postioning of the model of male privilege fit into the present?
Where are the women in history?The Flaneuse or flaneur(s)e. 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 that are both off line and online through a drawing practice. How can a flaneur(s)e exist today? Only as a cyberflaneur(s)e? Can we connect in the same way today ? The project explores our shaping of a notion of a nostalgic word. I explore our connectedness with others in a city when wandering alone physically or wandering around online without purpose on the internet. A sense of freedom of imagination and existence can exist, however am I critical enough to my nostalgia? I know that this is also an idealized notion of freedom . Today we are tracked down through civic cameras that record you when walking in most cities , car movements, credit card movements, mobile phones that track your location and call logs, or the nature of the internet tracking all our data in clouds.
In the below walk 1. , I walked around in the city, trying to forget the fast pace of city life. I wanted to forget time and just meditate on being in the moment, not hurrying away somewhere. I wanted to immerse myself in the role of the flaneur(s)e. What I noticed was a nostalgic emotion in me, a sort of joy and pain of really wanting to go back to a time where the fast paced was a slower pace, where people did not look down to their mobiles and where every other person did not have an earplug in their ears. I wanted to go back in time, by giving more time to time, by slowing down, breathing, and just looking around with all the time in the world. The walks helped me in slowing down, and seeing new angles of buildings, shadows and different things, I would never see otherwise. In a way, I wanted them to last forever, however I know my cellphone is not far away and a phone call is lurking somewhere in the near present. My nostalgic encountering are a momentary joy of being somewhere that in one way exists, but doesn't.
1. walk one/ walk in the city
Instructions to the Flaneur(s)e:
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
Walk 2 / Are we anonymous?
I started this walk by just being present in the moment, and then starting to draw, what I saw around me. Suddenly, all I could see was mobile phones, telephone wires, cameras and so on. I