In the city, or in any city, streets aren’t just streets, and building aren’t just buildings. There are histories stacked on top of each other, whether they be literal populations and businesses that come and go or more personal, emotional histories. A park or a street corner is going to mean something different to everyone.
For the past few years, Elastic City has striven to crystalize this feeling into something more tangible with its series of free artist-led participatory walks in New York City and beyond. These walks take small groups (usually 12 or less) on fictional, historical, emotional journeys, such as a reenactment of coming-of-age moments that occurred at the height of the West Village’s dyke bar culture, a singalong Annie tour, or renaming and imagining a neighborhood where immigrants are celebrated. Artists like scenic designer Mimi Lien (a winner of the MacArthur “Genius Grant”), performance artist Karen Finley, activist and urbanist Nisan Haymian, among many others, have created and led walks for the series.
Today, Elastic City will wrap up their walk series for good. I chatted with Elastic City founder Todd Shalom and his longtime collaborator (and Elastic City’s Associate Artistic Director) Niegel Smith in the time they had in between conducting walks. Today, for the last several times, they’ll lead the walk they’ve created together that will serve as a finale for the series. It’s called, fittingly, The Last Walk, and takes place in Prospect Park, beginning at Grand Army Plaza.