Preview :: Perambulators lauch @ Late Night Library

September 27th 2011


The figure of the flaneur has a long, spotted history. For Baudelaire he was the gentleman stroller, simultaneously detached observer and a key figure in understanding and portraying the city, for Georg Simmel an individual struggling to preserve his identity in the face of a homogenizing urbanization, and for Walter Benjamin an unprecedented product of the Industrial Revolution on par with the advent of tourism. Benjamin wrote of a somewhat dandified flaneur, a lone ambler who should supposedly have a tortoise accompany him on his walks to set the pace.

By the 1950s and 60s the stroller had taken a turn, as the Situationist International movement set Europe’s intellectual circles ablaze. Guy Debord and his cohort of French revolutionaries would spend days meandering through Paris, in and out of bars, through the arcades, factories and abandoned buildings in search of an elusive yet distinct psychogeography on their now famous derives. The derive was without destination, motivation or attraction; walkers would simply drift around the streets, waiting to be struck by some particular geographical effect.

This Thursday at Surry Hills Library, the flaneur finally gets out of your cultural studies class and into your car (well, library), as Performance Space launch Perambulators as part of their WALK series. Perambulators sees local artsy talents Bababa International and Keg de Souza contribute their own efforts to Sydney’s very own psychogeography in the form of artist-created ‘city guides’, to be launched at Late Night Library this week.

Bababa’s map is an interactive online call for viewers to get out and about and active in their city. Whether it’s fixing something that’s broke, retrieving something that’s lost, or merely seeing something overlooked, the map is a call to the streets (via the computer). Keg de Souza has created an offset and Risograph printed map (which can be accessed from her Primavera exhibition) that takes a closer look at Sydney’s oldest suburb, The Rocks, exploring displacement, the built environment, and Sydney’s ubiquitous obsession, Real Estate.

Benjamin wrote of the flaneur “Empathy is the nature of the intoxication to which the flâneur abandons himself in the crowd. He . . . enjoys the incomparable privilege of being himself and someone else as he sees fit. Like a roving soul in search of a body, he enters another person whenever he wishes". See? Saucy stuff. Get down to the Library and check it out for yourself.

What: Perambulators launch

Where: Late Night Library, Surry Hills Library

When: Thursday 29th Sept, 9 – 10pm

How much: Free, but booking is essential


Read more from Nick La Rosa