Claire Qualmann ‘Perambulation’

The second event in Chain was ‘Perambulator’. Artist Claire Qualmann invited us on a walk, with an unknown destination around Lewisham. Finding our way by local knowledge, maps and signposts along the way, our smartphones and by asking people we encountered. The blazing weather was our first indicator; so we headed for a park.

Claire described the work as an investigation of using a pram; how the object responds to public spaces and forces a pram-user to take certain desicions. It also responds to the origin of ‘pram’, perambulation meaning to meander or stroll linking to the Americanism ‘stroller’. This is a very particular type of walking, with no real fixed destination but simply to take the walk. It is always in response to the environment of the walker. Which street is taken, which park to take a rest in, where to cross, what to encounter and when. Anyone reminded of Baudelaire’s Flaneur?

Flaneurie, the art of walking through the Modernised city without partaking in its a progressive activity was a crucial part of the Parisian avant garde. The walker was however, always alone they moved through the city as a prince separate from the everyday life. For the mother with a pram they often negotiate their environment, moving from obstructions, looking for low curbs and waiting for green men. It is a negotioation of mother and young child, cosseted from the everyday but it is also an engagement with the world, both for the young child, new to the environment and the mother, who occupies a different lifestyle.

In this respect, ‘Perambulator’ brings pram-user and non pram-user together to experience the city through a purposeless walk, reacting and interacting with and to each other. By gathering togethe rin a group we rufte the idea of an ‘artist’ or ‘creative’ being isolated in singular genius and bring people together to intervene in the everyday beyond the consciousness and through the physical.

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