The emotional and physical loss experienced due to climate change can be overwhelming and debilitating. How can we walk with others as climate change makes life increasingly difficult? Developed in 2020/2021 as an extension of Shared Walks*, Shared Walks / Climate Change Edition focuses on the effects of climate change and aims to explore how embodied experience can turn into reflection and awareness, and how this can, in turn, enable agency and action. It aims to respond to the climate emergency by walking and exploring urban and rural environments to trace our experiences about the influences of climate change and the relationships between the human psyche and the more-than-human environment.
* Shared Walks was initiated in Vienna in 2018 by Eylem Ertürk and Bernd Rohrauer. Shared Walks / Climate Change Edition was developed in 2020/2021 by Eylem Ertürk in collaboration with Dr. Ayşem Mert, Lecturer of Environmental Politics at Stockholm University. Ayşem Mert’s participation and the launch of the project at the Climate Existence Conference in 2021 was supported by the Environmental Governance Post-Corona Project (https://epoc2025.com/) funded by the Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (FORMAS).
Sigtuna 2021 © Eylem Ertürk
The climate crisis is causing disasters and emergencies in increasing numbers and severity. These disasters and the way they are reported in the media can at times be a little abstract and disconnected from the human experience. The way climate-related loss and damage is discussed in policy circles often emphasizes its financial dimension, aiming to measure it in monetary terms and once again concealing the human experience of loss. However, as a result of the climate crisis, we are dispossessed of immaterial things such as feelings, places, experiences, and acquaintances we value as well.
Athens 2022 © Eylem Ertürk
We approach walking as an artistic practice and urban/rural research methodology that has the potential to create reflection and a better understanding of our environment, others and ourselves. A participatory approach to walking enables various persons from different backgrounds to engage with each other and in their environment focusing on the question of immaterial losses they, their walking partners, residents of the neighbourhood and society in general experience due to climate change; while they drift on an undetermined route.
The walks aim to create an experimental and shared space for an embodied experience by walking. They try to reveal emergent practices, solidarities, identities and political demands that help increase or delimit our agency as residents, citizens, activists, consumers and participants in the public sphere. They intend to open up space for deliberation and empowerment by unearthing some of the underlying imaginaries and shared fantasies: sketching out ideal images of the future as well as dystopian futures to be avoided. The temporal and ephemeral space created by the movement of walking falls into the field of transformative, in-between, liminal imaginaries. This experimental approach to climate change explores how walking together can create awareness and initiate the agency necessary to address climate emergencies in times of crisis and transition, where the order of the world tends to change.
The Shared Walks / Climate Change Edition card set serves both artistic and scientific goals. We seek the traces of climate emergency in the places we live/work/walk, the emotions emerging from our experiences of climate change (such as doubt, anger, anxiety, grief, despair but also hope, gratitude, joy etc.), and the actions these emotions can bring about (ranging from collecting and maintaining memories to solidarity and passionate political action). The walkshop methodology has an easily accessible approach to participatory research through embodied experience based on the simple act of walking realized in three parts: introduction (pairing of participants and selecting walking prompts), walking unguided in pairs (experiencing, observing and collecting information) and reflection in a group (on the experience and findings from the walks).
The card set consists of 18 walking prompts, shaped around 6 themes each proposing 3 walks that highlight a different dimension of that theme. Each thematic card provides some basic scientific information on climate change and its societal effects and ends with a set of questions to help participants reflect on the theme. Using an embodied research approach, the walking prompts deal with the below themes:
- Walks under the Weather theme focus on how we sense and remember the weather and change our practices as the climate changes.
- Walks under the Emotions theme help reflect on our emotional balance as well as our emotions of survival and creativity.
- Walks under the Resilience theme involve how we respond to danger, adapt and re-imagine safety during climate change.
- Walks under the Public Spaces theme open up questions regarding urban planning, public art and fashion/apparel.
- Walks under the Politics theme engender reflections on climate activism, corporate action and public policies.
- Walks under the Economy theme help us ask questions about consumerism, the sharing economy and changing culinary practices.
The final reflection session following the walks opens up a space for sharing of embodied experience as well as artefacts and visual, audio-visual, textual materials gathered on the route. This methodology weighs in both the embodied experience of the participant as a way of initiating awareness and action; and also explores how these collected materials come together, what they indicate about the spaces we have walked in and the changing traces and perceptions of climate change by accumulating material across walkshops in different geographies.
Shared Walks / Climate Change Edition prototype was launched at the Climate Existence Conference in Sweden in August 2021 and continues to take part and extend participation in different scientific and artistic settings:
3 September 2022 | EISA PEC 15th Pan-European Conference on International Relations entitled “Pandaemonium: Interrogating the Apocalyptic Imaginaries of Our Time”, Athens, Greece | http://pec2022.eisa-net.org/
14 September 2021 | Exhibition “A Knot In The Throat: Foraging For A Vanishing Present” at WUK Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna, Austria | https://www.wuk.at/en/events/a-knot-in-throat/
13 August 2021 | Climate Existence Conference, Sigtuna, Sweden | http://www.climateexistence.se/2021/09/16/documentation-climateexistence-2021/