At the end of the 18th century in Europe, the birth of alpinism coincides with the birth of demonstrations: The storming of the Bastille (1789) took place shortly after the first recorded ascent of Mont-Blanc (1786). Since the French Revolution, human beings from all over the world have marched in order to claim their rights or to denounce injustice.
This became very obvious during the 20th century: History shows how the act of marching has served to exert pressure in favour of the fight for the independence of a country (e.g., Gandhi, Salt Walk, 1930), in favour of the conquest of Civil Rights (Selma Walks in Montgomery, 1965) or to defend the right and freedom to love each other (e.g., the first Gay Prides in 1970). Since the 1970s, some artists have used the act of walking as a medium in itself. Of these, Hamish Fulton is one of the most iconic, as shown by his motto « No walk, no work », his artistic rule, as well as his engaged work about Chomolungma. Others, like Fischli & Weiss (Der rechte Weg, 1983), Mona Hatoum (Performance Still, 1985, 1995) or Markus Raetz (Sans titre [oui-non], 2000) have produced works that represent or integrate the act of walking as a deep quest for identity, as a way of denouncing violence or as a way of changing the world.
Proposed by the Valais Art Museum, the exhibition En Marche ! will take place at the Pénitencier [Old Prison] in Sion between June 2017 and January 2018. With a scientific and interdisciplinary scope, it will engage works of art in a thematic dialogue with objects and documents from geological, historical and film collections dating from the 18th century to 2017. From the footprint to the transgression of borders, from mountain climbing to political protest, the act of walking will be approached through the process of engaging body and mind: Making a step is making a choice; walking into a direction is expressing an opinion