Wander Weed: walking, listening and introspection

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Stefaan van Biesen‘s piece Wander Weed received an honourable mention for Sound Walk September 2019. Here’s Stefaan, describing his piece in his own words.

Positioning Wander Weed in the context of Sound Walk September 2019, I need to go into the history of this performative walk; After my studies as a visual artist, I was active as a rock musician for ten years. That was because, at that moment, I was not directly connected to the art scene, and because the excitement of the music world fascinated me more, artistically.

When I returned to work as a visual artist at the beginning of 1990, sound compositions and soundscapes had always been very present in my own artistic work, like in videos and installations. Concepts such as silence, which was perhaps a personal reaction to the loudness of the rock scene, also proved to be very important for me, at the time. My first new piece, now as a visual artist, was a two-day walk that was filmed by a film-maker and friend: a walk that started from an ecological idea, but also referred to Bosch and Breugel, updating an old tradition. At that time, the performances and walks were a means to create images or other works, not the end result.

Since then I have always been active in a multidisciplinary way, with performances in combination with writing, silence, sound, walking and observing. I have done various performances in the public space, unannounced, often without an audience. These performances were intended as a study for further installations, drawings, texts or videos. It is only around 2010 that I started working with passers-by or participants. It was a logical evolution to get out of my isolation, with the need to share ideas with others; The performance as a social event, or act, in which the participants are asked to take on the role of co-observer and attentive spectator.

Wander Weed is therefore a synthesis of everything I have previously done in connection with performances and sound. It brings people together in a combined event, consisting of walking, listening and introspection. It is a mix of different things, including reading my ‘letters to a tree’ [1996-1997], a conversation about the participants’ own experiences, and an ‘exercise’ with the aim of connecting yourself (or your own relationship), with the plant world.
These are all things I have tried out or applied in my daily life in the past, and I invite people to become a ‘poetic flaneur’ who moves in the urban or natural landscape. You could almost call this attitude ‘meditative’, but this description falls short, as, in reality, the participant is too active, or non-passive, though this is more connected to the participant’s state of consciousness. It is therefore a gentle incentive for ‘deepening’, and I would like to refer to a quote of Krishnamurti: “Don’t look at the tree, but see it!”

Arts gives me this interesting platform. It is a field of empathy and commitment, as the ultimate ground for reflection, individual expression, freedom, and allows me to ask fundamental questions. At a time of global disorder, art embraces life, even if doubt ensues inevitably, and art bears witness to the most precious part of what makes us human.

Submit your work for Sound Walk September 2020

Perhaps you’re inspired, or you were already planning on taking over the world with your next sound walk. We’re now taking submissions for Sound Walk September 2020. New sound walks, created in 2020, are eligible, as well as any sound walk event, executed during September 2020.

More here.

Stefaan van Biesen

Stefaan van Biesen

SWS Award winner

Since 1990 Stefaan van Biesen has made walks which he documents and displays in drawings, installations, photography, models, texts, videos and photographs. He regards the act of walking as a kind of subjective thought process in the urban and natural land...


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