Elastic City intends to make its audience active participants in an ongoing poetic exchange with the places we live in and visit.
Artists are commissioned by Elastic City to create their own participatory walks for the public, often using sensory-based techniques, reinvented folk rituals and other exercises to investigate and intervene in the daily life of the city, its variously defined communities, and the politics of individual and group identity.
*If you're not sure what a participatory walk is or if yer simply jumpy, check out the short videos on our "Videos" page.
Highlights from Elastic City's History
From 2010-2016, Elastic City produced over 130 new sets of participatory walks, talks, ways and performances by over 100 artists.
Elastic City launched with a walk in Orangeburg, New York and monthly promotional stints at Brooklyn Flea. Eleven artists led walks through New York City, with one set of walks in Buenos Aires. Elastic City formed its first partnership with Residency Unlimited.
Twenty-one artists led walks throughout New York City, with one walk in São Paulo and a fifty-six hour walk by Niegel Smith that flew from New York to Detroit. Students from Pratt Institute began leading walks as part of their course, "The Walk as Poem" by Todd Shalom. In September 2011, Elastic City was cartooned in a two-page feature by Roz Chast in The New Yorker.
Elastic City started its educational program, consisting of artist-led participatory workshops (a.k.a. "ways"). Twenty-eight artists led walks and ways throughout New York City, with sets of walks in San Francisco, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Paris, and Reykjavik. Elastic City ramped up its partnerships with organizations -- 2012 partners included: Friends of the High Line, Museum of the City of New York and Printed Matter. Elastic City became a 501(c)(3)non-profit organization.
Twenty artists led walks and ways throughout New York City, with sets of walks in Wilmington, Mexico City, Montreal and Tokyo. Elastic City launched its poetic activist arm, Willing Participant with support from The New Museum's Education Department. Willing Participant whips up urgent poetic responses to crazy shit that happens. Elastic City held its first-ever in-person benefit with 150 attendees at EFA Project Space. Elastic City received commissions from various organizations and institutions, including: Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation, The Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, The Museum of Modern Art, The New Museum, Performance Space 122, Prelude Festival, River to River Festival and Stanford University.
First-ever free 12 day New York City-based participatory walk festival in September. We featured walks by ten artists throughout New York City and four talks on the walk form co-presented by Pratt Institute’s MFA in Writing. Elastic City received commissions from various organizations and institutions, including: Brooklyn Museum and Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP). Throughout the year, we also produced a series of artist-led ways.
Six-week free festival in New York City featuring walks by eight artists, four talks re-framing the 'artist talk,' and four ways. The talks were developed during our Process Space residency in spring with Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. We debuted a scored, participatory performance at The Invisible Dog Art Center and were commissioned for a new walk by deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. Two Elastic City walks were featured in Group Efforts: Changing Public Space, edited by Gavin Browning (Columbia University GSAPP Books on Architecture).
Our final three-week free festival throughout New York City featured walks by seven artists/groups. "The Last Walk" was given seven times over two days in Prospect Park and featured cameo appearance by past walk artists.
A book that details artists' prompts from Elastic City walks and what we think are 'best practices' for the participatory walk form will be released.
Elastic City is directed by Todd Shalom. He realized the idea while suffering from altitude sickness in Cusco, Peru.
For a complete list of organizational partners and those who have commissioned walks, please click here.
Finally, please see our FAQ for some practical Q&A.