Wild Walks

Wild Walks
>Wild Walks are 5 audio walks in Amsterdam – South East, called the Bijlmermeer. This is the ‘Bronx’ of Amsterdam. Huge flatbuildings in the middle of a parklike environment host large groups of immigrants from former colonies and other parts of the world.

>In 5 half hour walks through the area around the Bijlmer metrostation one can follow the track of one of the – free according reality- fictious persons and hear on a headset his/her thoughts. It is possible to take a walk as a officeworker in his lunchbreak, a mother at her shopping round, a teenager chilling in the shoppingcentre, a homeless drugaddict strolling around the loading-berthes of the supermarkets and an ambitious new immigrant without papers marveling over the dutch spirit of enterprise.



>Wild Walks is commissioned by Imagine I(dentity)C(ulture) a new institute that documents the migrant history of this suburb by means of artistic projects. The main question was ‘sort out the use of the area around the metrostation and make your discoveries available for a wide audience.’ The area on one side of the metrostation contains the Ajax footballstadium , several huge music,theatre and film venue’s as well as a large quantity of office flatbuildings. Locally this side is called little New York. On the other side there is a shopping area and market place where the global clothing and electronic industries sell their goods as well as the local, small scale immigrant foodstalls. There is a colour timetable in this area: from 6 till 8 the mainly illegal immigrants clean the offices and shops, 8 till 9 the officeworkers (mainly white) arrive, from 9 till 10 the mothers arrive after delivering their children to school to do the shopping etc. All these groups move about next to eachother with no apparent contact. (Mongrel artists defined this phenomenom as the colour time table of the Bijlmer)
Wild Walks crosses these borders.



  >After the opening on May the 15th 2003, by three strong ladies: the local mayor, pop idol and a world champion thaiboxing a broad variety of people have taken a wild walk in the first few monthes: Surinam women association, civil servants, artschoolstudents, familie’s, shopkeepers, police, office workers , welfare workers etc. It became a favourite excursion for staff associations in the whole country.
After two weeks of exploring the area on my own, following people like a detective I was introduced to key figurs in the area. From these and my own contacts I invited 8 people to show me around. I gave them my minidv videocamera in their hand and invited them to show their tracks and tell their thougts to the camera. At home I drew maps according to where we had been and burned the soundtrack of the videotape on a cd.
With the cd’s and maps we took several experimental walks, using a friends mobile wireless audioset. The idea worked very well but for several reasons I decided to redo the walks in the studio with professional voices. I wrote down word for word all the 8 cd’s with thougts.
From this material I composed the 5 ultimate walks. Smoking Joe, the rapper read on tape the text of Backstage, the walk of the homeless drug addict. From a Ghanese couple who work for the radio the young woman dubbed the teenager (Wild Walk ‘Dream’) and her husband the fresh illegal immigrant in Wild Walk International etc.



>In the studio we made 4 tracks: one for the spoken word, one for the original environmental sounds, one with synthetic footsteps to set the pace and indicate where to pause and a 4th track with additional sounds in relation to the spoken text ( a dog barking, a scooter driving at high speed passes by etc).
The maps and texts (dutch) of the 8 explorations can be viewed on www.wildwalks.nl/verkenningen.


Right from the start I opened a digital diary on www.merrynomad.org (in dutch) to report of my personal experience in discovering a new world. After finishing the wild walks I continue this diary telling about daily culture in the places where I work with an emphasis on how the balance is between globalistic influences and the power of local communities.
Well concerning the Bijlmermeer, I fell in love with this community. It felt like what Dutch people tell returning from a visit to New York: this enormous energy. The multicultural society considered to be a failure ? I loved the livelyhood, the depth of the drama and the purity of the lust for life and energy which stems from this drama.
Fellow artists start moving to this suburb which has had a bad name for being dangerous for a long time. I will sort this out for myself, knowing it is a hard job to convince my children of any move.


The four months I worked on Wild Walks was one of the richest periods in my life. For a start to work with Imagine IC, run by a group of bright young women was a pleasure. I am content with the result. The most important aspect for me is however that the work is so well used by the people it is made for. The merrynomad tourist guide of Rotterdam – Hoogvliet (see urbanplan research) was a similar work opening up daily culture for the parties involved. To my regret we never managed to give the work back to the people in such a way in Rotterdam.
The Wild Walks are available for anyone till september 2004. Reserve at www.imagineic.nl. The institute is housed at a few minutes walk from the Bijlmer metrostation. You collect a map and a mp3player and off you go. For groups up to 10 people. Have a good time. (in dutch)