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Made for Walking

Participatory Walks with Todd Shalom of SVACE

We welcomed guests to join visual and performance-based artist Todd Shalom for one of his signature participatory walks. Located at The High Line Park and titled “Help Yourself,” this one-time edition of Shalom’s walks encouraged participants to poetically respond to their pasts and the current local climate, via Shalom’s guided prompts from poetry, performance, and sound art. Scroll down to see excerpts from Shalom’s prompts paired with Stephanie McGovern's photos and slideshows from the event.

Participants gather together at the High Line for a Participatory Walk with Todd Shalom.
"The Standard Hotel unfolds like an open book. Its guests often include those who want to be seen from the High Line."
Participants gather together at the High Line for a Participatory Walk with Todd Shalom.
"Look into the various windows of the hotel and scan these windows with your eyes. Do you see anyone there? Who would you like to see?"
Participants gather together at the High Line for a Participatory Walk with Todd Shalom.
"Take three minutes and construct a scene you'd like to see through the window."
Participants gather together at the High Line for a Participatory Walk with Todd Shalom.
"The more details you can imagine, the better. Write on these index cards and we'll share them anonymously.” (Photos: Stephanie McGovern)
Participants gather together at the High Line for a Participatory Walk with Todd Shalom.
"This is 14th Street. At the corner of 14th and Washington, on the right-hand side was the club, Mother. Known for innovative and scandalous, queer parties in the 90s, it's now a Lumas gallery."
Participants gather together at the High Line for a Participatory Walk with Todd Shalom.
"Take a few breaths and think about your mother or a caregiver in your life. Think of their greatest quality. Their demeanor. Their fashion. Their body language. Think of one statement or a saying that they would say to you when you were growing up. Think of how their body would be positioned when they're talking to you."
Participants gather together at the High Line for a Participatory Walk with Todd Shalom.
"Line up along the rail and freeze into your 'mother/caregiver poses,' then shout those ‘sayings' at the old club one at a time as we go down the line.” (Photos: Stephanie McGovern)
Participants gather together at the High Line for a Participatory Walk with Todd Shalom.
"We are now overlooking 85 10th Ave. That's the new National Broadcasting Company (NBC) building where they film your favorite sitcoms, the news, and Saturday Night Live! It's currently under renovation, hence the faded letters."
Participants gather together at the High Line for a Participatory Walk with Todd Shalom.
"In groups of two, take out your phone and take 3-5 minutes to create a video that is a 30-60 second news report. Start your video with, 'Hello, this is [your name] from outside of NBC's headquarters in Manhattan.'"
Participants gather together at the High Line for a Participatory Walk with Todd Shalom.
"Address a current issue in the news that's important to you. Give your personal opinion and be sure to present it as fact. Post it to instagram: #HighLineNBC. If you're shy, don't post it.” (Photos: Stephanie McGovern)
Participants gather together at the High Line for a Participatory Walk with Todd Shalom.
"We're at the Sunken Overlook—a small amphitheater-like space that overlooks the street. Decide upon a row and sit there. Do not sit in the row that's closest to the street."
Participants gather together at the High Line for a Participatory Walk with Todd Shalom.
"Now, in real-time, silently imitate the posture and movement of someone who is sitting directly in front of you. Do this for a minute. Then, add your own gestures to their movement, and when you're ready, deviate completely from the person in front of you."
Participants gather together at the High Line for a Participatory Walk with Todd Shalom.
"If inspired, quietly collaborate with the people next to you using only your bodies, not your voice. Don't look behind you. Have faith in this."
Participants gather together at the High Line for a Participatory Walk with Todd Shalom.
"Finish this performance when it feels right. Enter the amphitheater discreetly in groups of 2 or 3.” (Photos: Stephanie McGovern)

From Todd Shalom: "Afterwards, the sunlight was fading. We made a sound poem from the list of rules at the High Line, walked over to the Star on 18 Diner Cafe, spoke about gentrifcation, and asked participants to visualize their relationships with their neighborhoods and their neighbors. To end the walk, I asked participants to come up with a spot within a few minutes walking distance that they want to respond to and we crafted a prompt together. The spot decided upon was a fancy furniture store on 18th Street. Its large glass window was in stark contrast to the brick wall next door. Keeping in mind a diagonal line that ran through the sidewalk, we froze into position as individuals throwing bricks through the store window."

"At the end of the walk, I revealed that the building we went to for the News videos wasn’t actually the new NBC headquarters (fake news), but it’s actually the old National Biscuit Company building. NaBisCo. The first Oreo cookies were made there (for real).“

Todd Shalom will be teaching The Participatory Walk, a six-week course on Wednesdays this fall, from September 26th to October 31st. Read more about Todd and his work inWalk the Walk.” See more updates and stories on our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram pages!

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