Year-End Recap 2: Un/Conscious Walking

Putting Walking at the centre of this project, not as a by-product of the other activities (Place-Making & Resting) but as an activity unto itself, I thought it’d be reasonable to say a few words about the unfolding of this element too.

I am looking at two kinds of Walking:
1. Unconscious Walking: … Now made conscious because I am deliberately pointing to it, but these are the walks that need to happen in order to get anywhere. These could also be called Walks of Necessity. And
2. Conscious Walking: The walks that are inserted into my time at McGill, i.e.: for pleasure and not to get somewhere.

In the former can be found my trips up and down that lofty hill either on McTavish or Peel Street between Sherbrooke and Av. Des Pins. McTavish has been revamped and is now for pedestrians only (up until Dr. Penfield) making for a lavish path. It’s not often you get to walk right down the middle of the road and this road in particular faces one side of Mt. Royal. Every time I go up and down this street I can’t help but imagine a small-scale parade. I see streamers and hear trumpets. But a slow, ambling pageant, like a line of Mr Snuffleupagus’ kind of bobbing along. Peel is steeper; after a fresh snow the sidewalks are slightly treacherous. But I take it for variation. I also like the way the light falls in late morning (the time I usually make my way over).

Stanton_DesireLinesIn this same category are the “desire lines” that thread between the three main buildings that make up the Faculty of Education; these shortcuts have been etched into the ground after several years of the buildings’ occupants criss-crossing to get from one office or class to the next. They’re somewhat tricky to navigate at night especially under a new moon, but one can tangibly feel their distinct personalities and histories (with light undertones of mystery).

Stanton_ReservoirIn the latter, and as mentioned in a couple of previous posts, I have taken a shine to the reservoir across the street, where a giant football field sits and a running track circles around it. Walking the track is fantastic at all times of the year (with the giant exposed bedrock lining the far edges) but I have to admit, I am spending considerably less time there now that the snow has started to fall.

Which leads to the main event: the Weekly Walk. This got off to a slow start, for while the intention was there to go out every week, sometimes my intense schedule made it less possible. But a routine has gradually set in and the Weekly Walk is now officially plugged into the university’s calendar, with an hour-long Friday afternoon time-slot blocked off until late May (official announcement coming soon)!


In the meantime I had a few lovely meanderings with a B.Ed student, Jessica G. (pictured above) starting in early November, during which we discussed one of her final projects (an artwork for her Knowledge Through the Arts course) and shared spontaneous reflections around what resting, walking, and place-making means to us. Counting the Weekly Walk and her participation in the Art Hive inauguration as part of her research (in my untimely absence at this event, she generously took the reins and hosted a “performative trajectory”), she sent a draft of her notes, describing her experience of spending time with me. I include an excerpt here:

“I shared with Victoria the struggle I have with defining rest. I think that may be in part due to the fact that I do not feel very comfortable when I rest. The idea that I will stop thinking and/or doing something and just rest is stronger than me. This means that I do not take time out my busy schedule to stop and rest. We were discussing that this struggle of mine can also be greatly influenced by the people that surround me. I brought up the example of my mother who does 3 things at once and says she’s resting because she’s use to doing 5 things at once instead. Therefore, the idea of sitting down, potentially putting my feet up and clearing my mind of any negative thought is difficult when I’m just not accustomed to it. I thanked Victoria for giving me this opportunity of walking on this path with her. Although we may be very active in the sense that we are exchanging ideas throughout this walk, for myself I also see it as a little form of rest in my day.”

… Which makes an excellent segue to the final post about Resting, in the series of Year-End Recaps.

With special thanks to Jessica G. for contributing her time and thoughts to this process.


Author: Victoria Stanton

Montreal-based performance artist, writer, and educator Victoria Stanton explores live action, human interaction, video, film, photography, and drawing.

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