SUMMER 2016: Amidst a volatile/hostile reality, how could image-makers, researchers and ‘ordinary citizens’ invent everyday poetic/political/playful interventions to celebrate difference? 

CONTEXTS: Created during the fateful summer in which Great Britain voted to leave the UK. Drawing on a commissioned pilot and other performances / installations created under the framework of the RUN! RUN! RUN! International Body for Research, the film explores — and enacts — running as a creative/critical tool to re-imagine the world around us. 

Premiered at a festival celebrating the French Revolution in Grenoble in June 2016, ‘Hand-in-Hand’ follows in the footsteps of the Situationist International, who called for the ‘revolution of everyday life’ by the subversion (‘détournement’) of the established order. Yet, rather than walking, which these artists of the 1950’s favoured, ‘Hand’ upped the speed/stakes, and invited strangers to run and chat while tethered. The film itself exemplifies the messiness — and fruitfulness — of encountering difference, via jump cuts and an energetic montage/sampling of disparate footage and concepts. Its ‘moving’ images embody the breathlessness of a sprint — sights/sounds/sensations/meanings whizz by. 

Introducing running as an arts and humanities discourse, both the performance and film present the cultural tradition of walking a run for its money. Their non-western perspectives challenge dominant assumptions. Not run-of-the-(tread-)mill, they function as templates of how the pervasive negativity can be re-channeled into something creative (‘productive antagonisms’). 

Run run run, with us! Run into difference. Embrace flux. Don’t let things come to standstill. Don’t take things lying down. Join the war-cry. Dance to the drumbeats. Re-cover the fighting-spirit of our running hunters-forefathers but move with times – or deliberately refuse to budge. Invent your own gestures or ‘movements’. Mock/knock the toxic status quo. Let us surge forward, hand-in-hand. It’s ‘harder’, but as co-runners we can create yet ‘stronger connections’. 

CHAPTER: Read a write up of this as a chapter in a book Temps, Art et Cartographie: Representer les populations et les territoires en movement (Elya Editions).

Caption: From 16mm film Brookfield Zoo 1996, made at the School of Art Institute of Chicago. The film was in the Official Selection of the British Short Film Festival and screened at Empire Leicester Square.