Werner Herzog on Walking

PAUL HOLDENGRÄBER: You bring up so many of what one might call your obsessions, though I’m
not sure you will take well to that word. One of the interesting clusters of ideas that come up in my mind
as you speak is the importance walking has for you, and you have sometimes likened walking to
filmmaking and seen a relationship between the two.

WERNER HERZOG: I would be careful to call it walking. There is no real expression in English. I
would call it traveling on foot. And traveling on foot is something that we have lost out of our
civilization. But we are made for traveling on foot—physically we are made for traveling on foot, and in
our minds to move at a certain pace, and seeing things with intimacy and seeing the details and having
en route, you have only substantial encounters. If you run out of water—I had a canteen, and on a hot
day and no creek, nothing, and so I had to knock at a door of a farmhouse and ask whether I could fill
my canteen at his tap, at his faucet, sure, he would allow me and would ask me, “Where do you come
from?” And I said, “I come from Meiningen,” he said, “How?” And I said, “I came walking, well, a
thousand kilometers,” “Really?” From that moment on you only have an exchange of very, very
fundamental human things. He would tell me the story of his very last day in the Second World War,
where he was captured, that he has not told his family for thirty-five years or forty years and you would
have only, only, only the most essential encounters, and I have walked around Germany following the
border. I have walked once to Lotte Eisner when she dying, and I would not like her to die, I wouldn’t
like to allow her to die.

Taken from a transcript of a talk at the New York Public Library. Many thanks to the lady in Upstate New York who sent it to me.


Future of the City

“… this apparently alienated zone is the new Britain, a pointer to the real future facing this country. Developments in Fulham or Muswell Hill will have no bearing on what lies ahead. But what happens between the M3 and the M4 will define the character of Britain for the next half century.”
J G Ballard, Tate magazine Issue 24, Spring 2001

With the London Perambulator now out in the world thoughts inevitably turn to future projects. I’ve started work on one already, with another in discussion. There will also be the usual pitches to the Channels. But I know that there will be another film with Nick, there almost has to be. The first walks we did together in 2005 hinted towards a much bigger project than The Perambulator could fulfill – that has merely prepared the ground, created a context. All I can see for now is Nick wandering through the Lea Valley Industrial Estate at Edmonton with the brief to ‘engage’ with people as much as the infrastructure and identify the phenomena that Ballard is taking about, isolate the virus creeping through the crumbling industrial fringe of the city, the zones of distribution and re-consumption, disposal and transit – before it’s too late.


London Perambulator Q&A at Housmans

Short clip from the Q&A that I did with Nick Papadimitriou, subject of the documentary – recorded at Housmans Bookshop, Kings Cross, London following a screening of the film.

The London Perambulator looks at the city we deny and the future city that awaits us. Leading London writers and cultural commentators Will Self, Iain Sinclair and Russell Brand explore the importance of the liminal spaces at the city’s fringe, it’s Edgelands, through the work of enigmatic and downright eccentric writer and researcher Nick Papadimitriou – a man whose life is dedicated to exploring and archiving areas beyond the permitted territories of the high street, the retail park, the suburban walkways.

For more information go to http://londonperambulator.wordpress.com