Artist Plans To Take A Long Walk On A Short Bridge In The Capital

By David Prudames | 08 June 2005
shows a man walking along a bridge surrounded by blurred people

What's the rush? Ohad Fishof will be taking the morning commute in very small strides. Courtesy Artangel.

In a couple of weeks time in the heart of one of the world’s busiest cities, just as rush hour enters its stop-and-you’re-a-goner phase there’ll be one individual taking it easy.

At 08.00am on June 21, while all around him plough on, performance artist Ohad Fishof will be seeing just how slowly he can cover the almost 300 metre span of London Bridge.

Needless to say, his actions will make him a little incongruous among his fellow commuters: "Heads down, briefcases in hand, arms swinging; only one objective in mind, to get a cup of coffee and get behind that desk." For fellow artist Jem Finer, the sight of a man moving at a snail’s pace amongst all of this, will be "rather wonderful."

Particularly wonderful, since Fishof's somewhat different actions are in fund-raising aid of Longplayer; a project devised and created by the ex-Pogues musician.

shows a slightly blurred photograph of a man on a bridge

Fishof on a recent trial run. Courtesy Artangel.

A 1000-year-long continuously playing composition, Longplayer began in the year 2000 and is due to finish in December 2999. It was nurtured by commissioning body Artangel and can be heard at listening posts in London, Nottingham, Australia and Egypt.

Members of the public are invited to pay £5 to guess just how long it will take Fishof to make it across London Bridge and back. Get it right and they could win return flights to Brisbane to hear Longplayer on the other side of the world.

As well as welcoming the fund-raising benefits, Finer approves of the event on a personal and artistic level.

"It’s a very simple and poetic way of highlighting the speed of life, for something to move very, very slowly against the rush of traffic, all the scales of movement you get on a street: the cars, the people, the aeroplanes," he told the 24 Hour Museum.

shows a photograph of a lighthouse type tower on the side of a building

Longplayer can currently be heard in a disused lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf in London. Courtesy Artangel.

However, to fulfil his ambitions and make sure Longplayer is a sustainable project, Finer and his fellow trustees are in need of financial support.

"What we really want," he said, "is to develop strategies for its long term survival. At the moment it’s run on a computer, but how long will the computer last? We want to find a way of freezing Longplayer in the long term so it can look after itself."

That might be a mechanical solution: a prototype has already been designed deploying six vast turntables. Or a human one: a score has been written by Finer but requires six musicians and 250 Tibetan singing bowls. Either way, cash is needed.

So, whether it’s a front row seat at a peculiar interruption to the morning commute, a chance to support an ambitious artistic endeavour or just an Australian holiday that you’re after, it could be worth a punt on June 21.

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