BEHIND THE SCENES:
April 4th 2022
A WALKED DRAWING, ‘TWO FEET WALKING’,
By Linda Karshan
In collaboration with Filmmaker, Ishmael Annobil
In response to the architecture of Murray Edwards College,
University of Cambridge
Friday 8th April 2022, 5-7pm.
“Asked about his studio practice, Giacometti responded ‘two feet walking’Linda Karshan
That’s what I see in the sketch.”
The WALKED DRAWINGS represent the quintessence of Linda Karshan’s practice. They appeared in 2018 as a necessity.
Her collaborator, poet and cinematographer Ishmael Annobil, explains: In this revolutionary genre of WALKED DRAWINGS, Karshan’s feet become her drawing points, approaching historical spaces in the same way she approaches the paper medium. She partners with each space to create lines and movements that embody its internal rhythm and form. Following the patterns of her breathing and her intuitive “inner choreography”, Karshan walks in precise patterns of straight lines reminiscent of her drawings on paper, sometimes stopping to embellish a particular point with a few dance steps. As she moves, Karshan’s steps resonate in the space in a play of echoes and rhythms to create auditory portraits.
The WALKED DRAWINGS are personified drawings, filled with bodily presence, expression. They transcend the conventional drawing by embodying the drama of their execution. Process as art. Self-interrogation as art. Thus, each drawing offers two images: the one that the viewer discerns with his eyes and ears, and a self-portrait of the artist in flight.
Lasting between fifteen and twenty minutes, the walked drawing at Murray Edwards College will be Karshan’s longest to date. Directed by filmmaker and collaborator, Ishmael Annobil, it will also be the most technically complex – Karshan will wear a microphone, and cameras positioned throughout the library will capture the precision of the corners she makes as she turns. “The corners are crucial; they must be precise. At Skidmore College, I was admonished to ‘cross those corners!’ It’s a Bauhaus thing. Whether I cross them or not, the decision is deliberate and clear.” In her Dulwich studio the same impulse dictates 90° anticlockwise rotations of her paper after each drawn line.
Moving along corridors, up and down spiral staircases and into the circular Fountain Court, Karshan will adapt her rhythm and movements to accommodate the architecture’s curves. Sometimes she will walk with arms outstretched for balance making a horizontal line that, like the bend of her waist and the strong vertical of her spine, is reflected in the lines of the grid motif that characterises her works on paper. Like the design of the Murray Edwards College buildings, some of Karshan’s works include circles. In others, sections of perpendicular lines are joined to form a series of ‘marching triangles’ or ‘dashing corners’. Circles and triangles are closely associated in Karshan’s work. Her ‘turn and turn about’ movement through 90° can be drawn as both a straight line and an arc.
After completing the Library section of the walk Karshan will pause briefly to exchange soft-soled brogues for tap shoes that will amplify her footfall, giving the work additional texture as her route continues along different floor surfaces. “As she moves through each space, Karshan’s footsteps resound off the walls and floors in an interplay of echoes and rhythms to create auditory portraits,” says Ishmael Annobil. “The artist herself becomes a living presence giving voice to the place itself.” As with John Cage’s 1952 composition 4’ 33” ambient noise from the audience or elsewhere will form part of the work. Only the fountain, outside in the Court, will be deliberately silenced to avoid drowning out Karshan’s footsteps. Karshan hopes the audience will play an active role by listening as well as watching. “Sound is at the heart of the work,” she says.
Breath is also at its heart – and not only Karshan’s as she creates the work. In preparing for the work she has been particularly aware of the breathing and rhythms of her infant grandson and the sound of her graphite pencil moving across paper reminds her of the noise made by the breathing machine used by her father after he contracted polio in the 1951 pandemic. Covid-19 has brought a poignant new attention to the regularity of breathing and has further strengthened Karshan’s ever-present resolve, ‘I remain upright and alert because I am able. I am two feet walking because I must.’Press release, Sophie Money, MONEY + ART