Walking with: spatial approaches to intimacy
The questions of intimacy, its spatial dimensions, and its creative potential lie in the heart of this thesis. People often think of intimacy as that which is private and secret, placing it in nooks and quiet places that can hide, comfort and protect us. However, I argue that intimacy can take place in open spaces, within crowds and while on the move. Intimacy holds paradoxes, as it can be found not only in ideas of care and nurture, but also in risk and conflict. In the thesis I explore and reveal both aspects of intimacy, expanding how we understand it and defining its potential as a concept to tease out forms of interaction with others and the environments we inhabit. I develop a framework of thinking about and understanding the intricate character intimacy. I develop this in the meeting of the spatial relationships we encounter in the psychoanalytic theories of D.W. Winnicott and J. Lacan, as framework that can ‘hold’ intimacy’s textures. The research progresses through a series of five workshops with multiple participants and other walking experiences at different scales. I study the concept of intimacy through and within the practice of walking and at the same time I examine ‘walking with’ as a site of intimacy, which forms an approach towards environments of openness in performative explorations of spaces, aiming for a study ‘on’ intimacy as well as ‘with’ intimacy. I develop this practice throughout the thesis as a mode of enquiry that foregrounds lived, embodied, and emotional experiences, critically approaching, yet directly responding to the rich and intricate relations of subjects and environments. I conclude that the concept of intimate spaces needs to broaden further to embrace intimacy’s nuances, allowing us to address as such the relationship between public and private spaces not as exclusive opposites, but as a concept that enables us to identify points of overlap, intersection, and leakiness. In such ways, we can identify interior qualities in the public space (or identify the need for), and at the same time invite public elements in ‘controlled’ private spaces. I also suggest that research on and with intimacy through performative explorations, such as the practice of ‘walking with’, can provide playful and enquiring modes of exploring spaces by suggesting new forms of engagement and ideas of participation. Such practices can facilitate creative collaborations, provide communication beyond conventional boundaries and offer an understanding of space through embodied occasions, events and actions.