In Search of A/The Point of Life

FOLLOWING THE FOOTSTEPS OF WALID RAAD / THE ATLAS GROUP at the Whitechapel Gallery!

Place: Nondon. Date: 2 November 2010. Time: from 13:00hr GMT. Starting point/point of departure: Central Nondon. Loop point: Whitechapel Art Gallery. What for: To see Walid Raad's show. Route: via the City. How was it, then: Crowded. Nice Gherkin you've got. Pet peeves: 1) Shoveling past people dangling cigarettes in their fingers. 2) Women/very large people who walk slowly but occupying entire pavements 3) Women/'girls' (sic) who are in a large group but walking very slowly or giggling and chatting away in the middle of the pavement believing that they look cute and are drawing attention - indeed, from an angry runner 4) Children/babies/prams with young parents with same level of entitlement as the chatty women and fat bastards who block entire pavements and roads, as if they are the first people on earth who have given birth and hence demand special treatment and that the rest of the world have been created from playdoh. We don't blame the kids but we blame their smugly parents. GET OUT OF OUR £k*fING FACE!!!! Attire: Short-sleeved T-shirt and shorts. Temperature: 14 degrees celsius (sweaty run). Smell: Not So Terribly Good for an art gallery (or elsewhere). Quality of outward-bound run: Painful now with not one, but BOTH legs with shin splints. Could not get a comfortable gait. At least our limp is balanced now. Run back was easier and even sweatier.

On 2 November, we awoke from a 12-hour sleep (after none the previous night) to run through the City to the Whitechapel Gallery. There are many, many artists we admire (Chris Marker, Marc Chagall, AES+F, Tarkovsky, Fernando Pessoa et al). Walid Raad/Atlas Group is one of these people whose footsteps we (attempt to) follow. In a previous life we had the privilege of experiencing his performance-lecture in a workshop we attended. Already conflating fact with fiction, objectivity with subjectivity, history with memory, ‘official’ grand narratives with micronarrative in our own work, and already familiar with the genres of the essay film, performance as practitioner, lecturer and sometime writer, Raad’s performance-lecture made an impact.

At this Whitechapel show, Raad’s appropriation of museum aesthetics in a trademark clinical austerity in his approach is chillingly disturbing as it is dead funny. We particularly love the small model of a gallery which contains tiny precise replica of his work.

We realised that there was another source of chilliness, and that came from our exposed legs. Another observation: except for primary school kids, not many other gallery-goers wear shorts. Was that why we received some interesting looks from the gallery-sitters, as we did when we visited the Wolfgang Tillmans show after a 30km run in Hyde Park? Will spandex and leg warmers have saved us from the faux pas (if it was indeed one), and also help us look ‘tuned in’ onto the retro ’80s look (or at the very least, an artistically clever and ironic wink/nod, that the artistically clever and ironic art world would approve of)? As usual, suggestions and advice welcome.

The above is the GPS track of our run to the gallery and back, totaling about 8.9km. For a detailed version of this and other GPS tracks of ours in Life 1.0, look here.

Anyhow. Go run with Walid Raad. He’s not bad at all.

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