Walking and Talking: Elastic City Announces Final Festival


An article by Jennifer Schuessler for The New York Times.

An African market in the South Bronx, a playground in Brooklyn and vanished landmarks of lesbian night life in the West Village are among the settings for “The Last Walks,” the final free summer festival organized by the arts group Elastic City.

The festival, which will take place from July 7 to 27, will be the swan song for the group, which was founded in 2010 by Todd Shalom. Since then it has worked with dozens of artists to create more than 125 “participatory walks” and other events in New York, Detroit, Berlin, São Paulo, Reykjavik, Tokyo and other cities.

While this festival takes place entirely in New York City, many walks look to the world beyond its borders. In “La Mano Immigrante (The Immigrant Hand),” created by created by Tania Bruguera and Mujeres en Movimiento, a group will “cross the border” into Corona, Queens, renaming subway stops, telling life stories and performing the unacknowledged but “essential jobs that keep this city afloat,” according to a description.

In “Market Thrum,” created by the choreographer and performer Okwui Okpokwasili, participants will explore the Gold Coast Market in the South Bronx, using techniques of “dynamic movement.” (Each walk lasts about 90 minutes and is designed for about 12 people; information and reservations at elastic-city.com.)

The final event will take place July 26 and 27 in the more bucolic setting of Prospect Park, Brooklyn, where Mr. Shalom and Niegel Smith, the group’s associate artistic director, will lead “The Last Walk,” a sort of greatest-hits riff featuring cameos by artists who have presented previous walks.

“Over the past seven years, we’ve potentially expanded the way thousands of people experience their ‘everyday,’” Mr. Shalom, who is working on a book about the group’s techniques, said by email. “I see it like a small record label or an indie press. It’s always been a project with a focus to produce rigorous work and get it out there directly to the public.”

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