In the week following the new year, Christian traditions celebrate the coming of foreigners from the East, in the catholic tradition there are three, in the Middle-East tradition they are twelve. They come from Arabia, Persia and India, they are multiracial, white, brown and black, the youngest 20 years old, the oldest 60 years. They were navigating their journey on foot by following a star. History transformed them later into magicians and astrologists, and much later into kings, but the essential story is about a group of men walking thousands of kilometers to witness a miracle.
They were warmly welcomed by a poor family and given hospitality.
Two millenia after the origin of this story, many men are walking the same journey looking for a miracle and for a new beginning. In 2022 there were 103 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, and most of them are traveling by foot, many of them coming from the East. The beginning of a new walking year may be an ideal time to reflect on hospitality and welcome offered to strangers walking from a foreign land.
Adding to the global crisis of forced migration, nearly 8 million Ukranians fled their country with 90% of Ukrainian refugees being women and children, while most Ukrainian men are banned from leaving the country.
Walking and walking arts suddenly get a shifted significance, as more and more people walk out of necessity and for survival, and becomes a place where walking and hospitality meet.
This creates an opportunity for walking arts, from its origin always an utopical act, and it reactivates walking as an act of connecting on a deeper level with nature and the environment. Guy Debord rewrote walking as an act of subversiveness and playfulness for change of our world, another giant of walking Lucius Burckhardt revealed the power of walking as an act of collective (re)imagination and transformation, introducing as well the inspiring concept of mindwalking. Walking together sets into motion, triggers imagination and thoughts. And the art of walking is a catalyst for new and possible worlds ahead of us.
Let this be a desire, a hope, a wish for you all, walking artists and sound walkers in 2023.
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