The idea of the city seems to be in constant flux. Our agenda to perpetually redevelop urban spaces produces a haunting effect, where residue and fragments of the past appear to haunt the present landscape. Ghosts Don’t Walk in Straight Lines is a new project by Saskia de Brauw and Vincent Van de Wijngaard that captures the streets of Manhattan at a specific moment in time, where the endangered features of ‘old New York’ are, at any moment, about to disappear forever.
In the form of a book and a film (presented in partnership with AnOther and hosted at the store x from Thursday 8th March – Sunday 11th March), Ghosts Don’t Walk in Straight Lines, offers us the chance to accompany the otherworldly figure of de Brauw as she travels on foot along Manhattan’s North – South axis. We move slowly, at odds with the pace of the city around us. As we walk, we cross boundaries through many different neighbourhoods, we encounter many stories, as if the fabric of the city itself has the potential to contain the narratives of those who do (and who have) inhabited it.
The mood of the piece swings between a factual documentary-style, registering the surroundings, and a cinematic, film noir atmosphere heightened by moments of Hitchcockian melodrama. There’s a hint of a narrative; perhaps we’re following someone, but we’re not sure who. Or why.
Saskia de Brauw, known for her brilliant modelling career, is now working as an artist, creating process-based performative works that explore how people inhabit both domestic and urban space. In 2016 she published her first book The Accidental Fold, containing a collection of discarded objects found in the streets. Meanwhile, photographer and filmmaker Vincent Van de Wijngaard has travelled the world photographing the life of the street. In 2017 his book Morocco was published by Louis Vuitton as part of the “Fashion Eye” series. In this collaborative project they follow in the footsteps of other artists, including Rachel Lichtenstein and Janet Cardiff, who have also used walking the streets as a means of imaginatively engaging with personal and political of the urban environment.
Ghosts Don’t Walk in Straight Lines not only immortalises the streets upon which it’s set, but also dramatises the everyday life of the street and transforms the act of walking through New York into a cinematic event.
Ghosts Don’t Walk in Straight Lines is being shown from Thursday 8th March – Sunday 11th March at the store x, 180 The Strand (Arundel Street entrance), London WC2R 1EA