Score #3 by Ciara McMahon

[score base: Room card for the River Lee Hotel, mostly blacked out; photo and score: Ciara McMahon (2021); score text recto: T(thisE RIVER walking/should/apply to systemic issues)/which a community can reconfigure/it is not inherently radical; score text verso: Guest Name/those more highly situated/people/Room No. our natural/waterways and greenspaces/Arrival/Departure/when i feel like/Guest Signature/You don’t belong here/actively interrogate/physical and/social constructs/informed by/and derived from/white, well-educated, middle aged/in-house expertise/rather than/those/who are less/to society]

Ciara, Alisa and Blake; 29 May, 2021; Boston, MA; London, UK; and Hawley, PA.

Three rivers: the Charles, the Thames and the Lackawaxen. Ciara, Alisa and I set out together, apart (connected via Telegram). London is sunny, while in the United States we walk in the rain.

Between Suburban and Urban: The Charles River. Within the first fifteen minutes of her walk, Ciara has ‘been splashed by two cars, stepped in two puddles, and encountered several closed sidewalks’. The people she encounters are out with a purpose—'runners and dog walkers’. The unfriendly charm of Boston: ‘Other pedestrians just treat you like an inconvenience’. She passes a rainbow of fists stenciled on the ground as well as ‘Everyone matters graffiti’. The sentiment against Black Lives Matters is strong in America, though so is the fight for new modes of equality.

The “community” garden is locked. No trespassing please. Near the boathouse that belongs to Harvard—or is it MIT’s? or Northeastern’s? with so many boathouses it can be hard to keep track—she reflects, ‘I always feel like a guest in their water.’

Urban: In London, a sunny day brought out droves. Walking the Thames near Southbank, Alisa navigates a river of people. ‘Everyone is SO dressed up’. The ‘first warm day. saturday. everything open.’ There seem to be more folks on the river than the entire population of Hawley. Emerging after a winter of discontent? People passing, people sitting.

For Alisa, the monuments of the Enbankment evoked ‘Stalin’s Vodokanal projects’ and the power dynamics present in the ‘act of framing water’. The water not available for all. The embankment itself is a ‘man made thing’, a taming of the Thames. The crowds in London have better access to the river than Ciara or I, though Alisa still navigates a combination of actual public spaces and POPS (privately owned public spaces). Private spaces masquerading as public commons.

Rural: My river was not so friendly. Beautiful, but not particularly inviting. Until 2021 the Lackawaxen River had no official public access points. Instead, there are private homes on the private river. To be fair, the river itself isn’t private. You can be on it, but you can’t necessarily get to it.

I pass a house with a wooden sign laser cut with the phrase ‘I don’t kneel’. A reference to Black Lives Matter I presume. It couldn’t possible be a rejection of Christian genuflection (Hawley being a good, god-fearing town). As I walk, I continue to encounter moments where it is clear I am not invited. Psychologically my queer atheism overrides my status a white, middle class, able-bodied, cisgender male. A continual feeling that I don’t belong here. I am not aligned with the town’s common thoughts.

Three rivers, but who do they invite to walk?

Laura; 6 June, 2021; Cardiff, Wales.

An instagram post by pterolaur. On the right a picture of the River Taff with people playing on the shore. The caption reads "What a perfect day to walk Score 3 by @hellociarbear. Part of the #52More #WalkingArt project by @Blakewalks

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