Abstract: Walking As Ontological Shifter - Bibi Calderaro

Whereto: Calderaro

Walking As Ontological Shifter
Bibi Calderaro

Graduate Center

In recent years walking as an aesthetic pursuit has changed its scale – it has unleashed itself from other performative acts and claims its own genre altogether. This move responds to current needs to evolve from representational modes of understanding and relating to the world.

In the constant search for a richer understanding of human-nature relationality, walking has turned into a quasi-perfect medium that integrates external and internal elements such as human geography, different environmental aspects and phenomenology.

Walking in this context is the non-verbal narrative that can contribute answers to this need. Integrating body-mind, space and time, place and temporality, walking induces connections with the self and the world in particular and complex ways. Because land is itself a narrative upon which walking is performed, and walking is a doubly dialectical narrating act - in walking we both read and write landscape, creating and finding meaning in it while walking - the analysis of its cognitive and affective possibilities would render a meta-narrative that couples the performative with thought and landscape in a dynamic embodied reciprocity.

My particular interest is challenging this relationship beyond a purely aesthetic and poetic pursuit, with the intention to facilitate an experience with the overall delivering goal to act as ontological shifter. This goal aims at the expansion of conceptual and phenomenological categories and boundaries, including human consciousness. Walking can produce a different level of discernment to build more robust configurations of how knowledge and ethical values are generated, enacted and communicated.

What are ways to integrate cognitive and phenomenological inquiry modes with walking in nature? What would it require in order for it to become a pedagogical model as generative field where ethical values may be enacted and communicated?

I will put together a glossary for a conceptually based walking gesture, one that follows a goal yet has no map.


Bibi Calderaro is an interdisciplinary artist and educator whose work has been shown internationally since 1995. Most recently her participatory sensorial walks have been part of Open Engagement, New York and the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA.

Her latest projects include Librioteca Pineal, a growing library permanently installed at Center for Artistic Research, Buenos Aires, Argentina and the related Walking is Knowledge - a collaborative performance; the curatorial project Notations, the Cage Effect Today with Joachim Pissarro, Michelle Yun and Julio Grinblatt at the Hunter College Galleries, NY; the organization of What Mushroom? What Leave? and Surfing on Sand, Climate in the Expanded Field in collaboration with Julio Grinblatt and Light-on-Air Projects - both participatory events based on foraging, communal cooking and reading.

Her performative actions have been in shows at PS1 MoMA and MinusSpace, NY; EFA Project Space and the IWT collaborative at Momenta Art, NY. Her films have been featured, among other venues, at the Flaherty Film Seminar.

She co-curated "Gift and Commodity, Transactions in Contemporary Art Practice," a panel discussion for CUNY Queens College at Art in General, NY, with Mierle Laderman Ukeles and Rirkrit Tiravanija, Simon Adams and Reinaldo Laddaga, moderated by Katy Siegel.

She has participated in the Elizabeth Foundation Studio Program and AIM Program as well as received the Aaron Siskind Foundation Fellowship Grant, among other international awards and residencies.

Bibi's art practice is one in many a set of gestures intended as individual and collective ontological shifters. The result of this attempt is representational as well as performative- objects, installations, drawings, actions, performances, texts, walking, communing - where two and three dimensional manifestations are the materialization of processes within larger, interdisciplinary and integrative research while performative and action pieces are experiential attempts at embodying these concepts.

She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.