Embodied Installation & Public Monument
Conceived & Developed by Megan Young with Angela Davis Fegan
Project Support by Evan Prunty
2016 Republican National Convention (Market Park & Public Square)
Revolution at Point Zero: Feminist Social Practice, Columbia College Chicago
Open Engagement Chicago: Justice (University of Illinois in Chicago)
The LONGEST WALK project creates temporary installations as a form of public monument. It honors the women who have lead resistance groups throughout history and around the world.
LONGEST WALK: Cleveland
This project was originally developed in protest to the dehumanizing and exclusionary policies of the 2016 Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland, Ohio. It highlighted the glaring absence of women from the RNC platform and key positions while filling that absence with reverence. The first iteration included over 25 participants and daily actions over the course of ten days.
Angela Davis Fegan contributed hand printed posters with the text, “WE WILL WALK UNTIL ______.” Protest posters were installed on the ground surrounding Market Park and every evening before the action began and viewers were invited to contribute.
The visual monument featured a group of female-identifying participants and allies asserting autonomy and public presence. Participants marked space by walking in a cyclical pattern of forward and backward steps. The bodies in motion did not inhibit the flow of pedestrian movement through the square. In fact, many chose to join the action.
LONGEST WALK: Chicago
The second iteration of this work was conceived not long after the results of the 2016 election were finalized. An unapologetic platform of the incoming Republican administration placed vulnerable populations in great peril. Meanwhile, many liberals struggled with the question of “What to do now?”
Once again, the living monument gave homage to the rich history of grassroots movements and leaders. Longest Walk: Chicago acknowledged the crisis of representation within political spheres, while further reinforcing the need for embodied investment.
The installation was supported by curators Neysa Page-Lieberman and Melissa Hilliard Potter. It made part of the Revolution at Point Zero: Feminist Social Practice exhibit as installed documentation.
The walking action took place on the University of Illinois Chicago campus during the 2017 Open Engagement: Justice conference. Fegan & Young developed a new series of protest posters including text: “WE WILL HOLD SPACE FOR: _____” and Fegan created a hand lettered protest banner with same message. The paper objects and accompanying descriptions went so far as to demand commitment from viewers. The artists asked, “What will you put your body on the line to protect?”
In keeping with her practice of experimental portraits, Young created an semi-documentary video series for the gallery installation. It featured female-identifying activists “performing” the cyclical walking pattern forward and backward in space. The digital media held space in the gallery for all who contributed to the development and realization of the work. As the Longest Walk project continues to expand, we look forward to documenting and featuring the embodiment of all those contributing.
(video stills from Longest Walk portraits)
Photo/Video Credits: Lindsey Higgins, Evan Prunty, Dianne Sette, James Smith, Megan Young