As part of Plymouth Art Weekender 2016, French artist Myriam Lefkowitz invites you to let the ordinary become extraordinary
I am going to take you by the hand and ask you to close your eyes… With these words, your one-to-one journey across the city begins, as you are led by a guide to experience the city as never before. This is Walk, Hands, Eyes (a City) the ongoing exploration of the environment by French artist and performer Myriam Lefkowitz. Having been developed and performed for many years around the world it is now coming to Plymouth especially for the Plymouth Art Weekender.
Although, Myriam may have performed Walk, Hands, Eyes (a City) from Sweden to Australia, Italy to Colombia and everywhere in between, the project it self started in much more humble beginnings. Myriam tells me “The start of the practice was somehow accidental”; a project that would become an epic exploration began with simply asking a friend to close their eyes and to be guided around a space. This small act however and a big impact, “It was a small dance and when we ended it, she was crying. Then I realised I had discovered something special to explore.” From here Myriam began experimenting with new places and bringing in other performers to test the ideas. It didn’t take long for Myriam to realise that what was really amazing was to see how strong our capacity to create other spaces, others worlds.
In Plymouth, as with all the cities it has been performed, Myriam will conduct a series of one-to-one guided walks exploring the relation between this sensory augmentation and imaginary activity. But, this cannot be done alone. In each new location Myriam recruits a team of performers based in that city to learn how to, “create the conditions for us to acknowledge new worlds.” Myriam explains further, “The reality that we show as guides is like a trampoline: the thing you need to bounce on to be able to fly a little and get a different perspective on the world.” The guides that Myriam has recruited for Plymouth, with the help of co-commissioners the Barbican Theatre and Bristol-based art producers Situations, will work with Myriam to help people to venture from one reality to another. By working with local artists and performers Myriam builds a relationship where they guide Myriam in the city that they already know and in return Myriam guides them in the practice that they have been developing for years.
Myriam Lefkowitz, Walk, Hands, Eyes (a City). Courtesy Situations. Photos by: Laëtitia Striffling, Bernhard Müller & www.meyerkangangi.com
Having performed around the world and in such a variety of contexts I ask Myriam what she hopes or expects to happen in Plymouth, “How people let themselves be seen is also very specific corresponding to where you are. How it is possible to enter places or not, so all the issues of private and public space is also in question in the walk. It is like dreaming in a way. I don’t think we dream with the same ingredient in Venice that we do in or Geneva or Buenos Aires. I wonder how and what we will dream of in Plymouth.” As I spend more time talking with Myriam it is this comment about dreaming that seems to stick with me the most, the feeling of being at once in control yet completely free to the whims of your imagination. In what is seemingly a simple act of being guided with your eyes closed are actually many more layers of experience and each one special to the person experiencing Walk, Hands, Eyes (a City), after all as Myriam says mysteriously “the person with their eyes closed sees the most.”
Walk, Hands, Eyes (Plymouth) will take place in Plymouth from Friday 23 – Sunday 25 September. The performance is open to all, if you should have any particular access needs please contact Barbican Theatre. Places for this performance are strictly limited and booking in advance is highly recommended to avoid disappointment.
Visit www.barbicantheatre.co.uk to book your tickets or call the Barbican Theatre on 01752 267131
Walk, Hands, Eyes (Plymouth) has been commissioned by Situations in collaboration with Barbican Theatre, and is supported by Plymouth Culture and Arts Council England.