Helen Clarke is an artist and Lecturer in Art and Design. Her doctoral research project Streetwalker: the flâneuse and the electronic flâneur, looks at the politics of the female body in the public space of the street. Helen employs the figure of the flȃneuse to work through a practice that combines writing, photography, curation, and walking as a political act.
Her publications include Echoes from a Berlin Childhood (Gordian Projects,2016). Here Helen re-walks the streets of Walter Benjamin’s Berlin Childhood around 1900. The book combines images from the walks, collected using a wearable camera, with text extracts from Benjamin’s memoir. This combination of the infra-ordinary visual moment with the autobiographical city brings the flȃneuse into contact with Berlin’s haunted streets and with Benjamin’s poetic lament.
The Lost Diagrams of Walter Benjamin (Ma Bibliothèque, 2017). Edited by Helen Clarke and Sharon Kivland. Forty-five artists respond to a description of a diagram of his friendships, found in A Berlin Chronicle. Once scribbled on a napkin, and then lost, Benjamin was inconsolable. In her review, Susan Buck-Morrs notes, ‘This archive of maps by readers of Benjamin suggests an unexpected form of solidarity.’
Sh! Fflight! (Gordian Projects, 2019) Artists Emma Bolland and Helen Clarke. A score for two voices, this publication was first performed at Tate Modern in 2018.
Helen’s PhD is part of the AHRC Heritage Consortium. In 2018 she completed an artist’s residency at the Feminist Archive North where she produced the photo-text work Voices from the Archive (2018). This work is a set of ten posters that respond to material held on the Reclaim the Night movement. As archival poetry, designed to be read along the route of the walks, this work joins the global debate around women’s presence in public space, and celebrates the activist and feminist heritages of Leeds.