Embodied Installation & Social Practice
Directed by Megan Young with Participants
Collaborative Artist: Angela Davis Fegan
Documentation: Evan Prunty, Megan Young, James Smith
2016 Republican National Convention (unofficial)
Revolution at Point Zero: Feminist Social Practice, Columbia College Chicago
Open Engagement Chicago: Justice
LONGEST WALK is an installation of female identifying bodies in public spaces created in protest of the dehumanizing and exclusionary policies of the 2016 Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland, Ohio. Conceived and directed by Megan Young, the first iteration includes collaborative development with over 25 participants; poster design/handprinting by contributing artist, Angela Davis Fegan; and documentation by Evan Prunty.
The project transforms the systemic boundaries and restrictions of the politically charged RNC event, even from within a climate of exclusion and deep ideological divides. Participants commit to delegations of embodied representation with each collecting “walking points” from their friends and family members. That becomes the Longest Walk platform – shared through protest posters on-site and through social media, #LongestWalkRNC.
Installations include participants marking space in a cyclical walking pattern of forward and backward steps. Their actions are a living monument to embodied activism, to the exhaustingly slow progression of systemic change, and to the contested space of the female body.
The Chicago iteration of the project was part of the Revolution at Point Zero: Feminist Social Practice exhibit at the Glass Curtain Gallery of Columbia College Chicago. The exhibit, curated by Neysa Page-Lieberman and Melissa Hilliard Potter, included a half day symposium in the 2017 Chicago Open Engagement Conference: Justice and public action on the Peoria walking bridge near 400 Gallery on University of Illinois Chicago campus.
Artifacts from the first iteration and experimental video portraits of womanist activists made part of the gallery exhibit. It also included a new set of protest posters (below) and opportunities for viewers to contribute their intentions. The in gallery prompt asked, “What would you put your body on the line to protect?”
This second iteration highlights the crisis of representation within political spheres while championing grassroots leaders. It begs the question of who we trust to support our interests and how we make space for difference in embodied activism.