Richard Long is a different kind of artist. His art works are records of his walks. Yes, I know that may sound a little strange, but it pushed me into a new world, the world of the walk. This is what he writes, “Nature has always been a subject of art, from the first cave paintings to twentieth-century landscape photography. I wanted to use the landscape as an artist in new ways. First I started making work outside using natural materials like grass and water, and this led to the idea of making a sculpture by walking. This was a straight line in a grass field, which was also my own path, going ‘nowhere’. In the subsequent early map works, recording very simple but precise walks on Exmoor and Dartmoor, my intention was to make a new art which was also a new way of walking: walking as art.
Each walk followed my own unique, formal route, for an original reason, which was different from other categories of walking, like travelling. Each walk, though not by definition conceptual, realised a particular idea. Thus walking – as art – provided a simple way for me to explore relationships between time, distance, geography and measurement.”
Torah also presents walking as a form of art. The Hebrew word “Halacha”, which is used to means “law” in Judaism, actually means “walk”. So Jewish walking is more than the Bocher-shuffle (a unique walking style practiced by Yeshiva bochrim of all sects), in a way it defines the way we view the relationship between law and life. Of course it all begins with our legs.
The Torah refers to man as a tree. Trees are planted and grow, they don’t move, they don’t have legs. Surely we could grow like trees do. We could have roots and stay in the same place and slowly over the course of a life time, through thought and contemplation, speech and actions, we could live, so why the legs?
In the realm of nature our legs are our mode of transport. They move us from one place to another, they follow a path or they can even forge a path. We can head towards a destination or go wandering in the fields. In the realm of the spirit they are our vehicle of change. In the following post I would like to explore how the legs of our soul walk forward along the path of change.