'In Motion’ is a portrait series that explores the simple in-between gestures of life – small moments become big – little pieces of a city that are anonymous to everyone else that walk through them, but to us feel like home – personal, instinctive, familiar. The first instalment was created in collaboration with photographer Tamibé Bourdanné featuring The Lounge Suit. In motion with Mona Chalabi - walking through green spaces and talking escapism, familiariy, community, and the power of movement as catalysit for changing thought patterns. Mona Chalabi is a data journalist. She lives between London and New York.
GERBASE: Talk us through this route. Are you going to have a descriptor of the location anywhere?
MC: I walk this route maybe once every couple of months. I normally do it with friends and then it means that I can stay close to home and just kind of circle around a little bit, so I can always be close by if anyone at home needs me. It's such a privilege to be so close to greenery – for years and years I lived in apartments nowhere near green space.
GERBASE: Do you switch on or off while you're walking?
MC: I think I really switch off when I'm walking. My brain is always moving rapidly and though I am still thinking when I’m walking, the speed of the thoughts changes. The thoughts change too, as if the act of being in motion means that your thoughts advance, rather than stick in one place. I enjoy it, perhaps because I feel like I should be walking. But it feels like a should rather than something that's naturally enjoyable. That sounds quite miserable but it's true. A good healthy person would go for a walk, so I feel like OK, I'm not too much of a mess If I've gone for a walk.
GERBASE: What made you choose this journey today?
MC: For its closeness – practicality. But simply because it’s so important to have access to this communal space. Especially in cities where people’s income defines so much of how they live in their personal space. To have something that feels expansive that is available to everyone, where there's nothing that you need to buy or believe in, feels really special. That's the beauty of public space.
GERBASE: What makes you walk with purpose?
MC: I think I'm walking with purpose when I'm doing something for someone else. That's what drives me a little bit. There's something that's really empowering about that, like fulfilling your responsibilities can feel good, right? It makes you feel like you're someone who's reliable and who can be counted on and that feels good. But it can be quite tiring. I feel like loads of the rhetoric now is quite individualistic – it's just about taking care of yourself, and I understand a lot of that but I feel purpose when I'm in community with others. And that feels good.
GERBASE: What does a good walk look like to you?
MC: The best walks are the ones where I'm not remotely aware of other things that I should be doing and I'm just present – I generally don't manage that when I'm by myself. It's when I'm walking with a friend and when I'm absorbed in a conversation with them and then all of a sudden, I'm like, ‘Oh, I don't know how long we've been walking for’. It's such a good feeling.
GERBASE: If this walk had a colour or texture, what would it be?
MC: It's green. And it's shiny. A lot of the leaves have got a glossiness to them. Even over there you can see they’re matte but for some reason the light kind of bounces off them. And there’s no consistency in the green – it makes you feel small in a really good way. I think it's good to feel small sometimes. And again, when you're used to being in confined urban environments, when you're always big in every room., to feel small is a relief.