WALKING WITH StRANGERS
“The freedom of walking lies in not being anyone; for the walking body has no history, it is just an eddy in the stream of immemorial life”
Frederic Gros, The Philosophy of Walking
In 2016 I set out across the network of walking routes through France and Spain, to create a series of photographs about the increasingly popular phenomenon of pilgrimage. I walked continuously for three months, beginning at Le Puy en Velay in Eastern France, and ending 1700km later at the village of Muxia on the West coast of Spain. Along the way I built up transient relationships with other pilgrims. Almost all of those I encountered were not walking for religious purposes, but were out to overcome a major event in their life or to cut loose with the past. I discovered that walking helped people to find liberty from their complex identities and social obligations, the path gave them a common goal and the landscape was a geographical space for reflection and change. Through separating from all that is familiar, pilgrims could willfully become strangers, both to the world and to themselves.
As part of my on-going inquiry into the relationship between walking and photography, Walking with Strangers is a portrayal of a long distance pilgrimage. The photographic narrative explores how walking can help us to build new friendships, incite change, and aid us to come to terms with our life circumstances.