The Midnight Run by Inua Ellams

Location: Outside the River Entrance to Tate Modern


As part of Tate Local Inua Ellams recreated The Midnight Run for MERGE. People were invited to run with him and to interact and respond to the city. This exciting journey took to the streets of South London.

The Midnight Run originated on one autumn evening in 2005 when  Inua Ellams and a friend had lost patience waiting for a bus and on a whim decided to walk the bus’s route. Six hours later they had drifted across London from Battersea to Chelsea, Victoria, Vauxhall and the West End into the small hours of the morning.


Surprised at how fresh and energized they felt, marvelling at the deserted streets of the city, without its hustle and bustle: the peace and tranquillity of a deserted Oxford street, being able to glance up without fear of hitting or being hit by something, discovering beautiful side streets, small courtyards, parks. Inua recreated it in the summer the following year, for 12 hours, from 6pm to 6am and The Midnight Run was born.


Those who come ‘Running’ share a search from things outside the mainstream. They tend to have a healthy sense of adventure and an openness to be admired. The Midnight Run can be shortened, tailored, mapped and themed to holidays, festivals, talks, sports, health, art,  dance etc. There have been similar initiatives explored by other artists but The Midnight Run is mostly inspired by The Situationists - a political and artistic movement between 1957 & 1972 in France. The founders of the movement were tired of the commercialism of art and consumerism and wandered city streets in typical post-war bohemian fashion seeking REAL experiences.


Remixed to London 40 years later, The Midnight Run seeks to reclaim the streets of a city, dispel the idea of danger after dark, particularly in our times, and try to discover after dark. It is to situate meetings of strangers, enabling relationships to blossom in short time spans. It is to inhabit the confines of glass, concrete, steel and structure, as a child does a maze; with as much innocence and wonderment as is natural.

In the Midnight Moto, ‘star’ can be taken literally, or as a metaphor for city dwellers. In this case it takes on a certain beauty and importance. His dream is to see The Midnight Run become a global urban movement, with runs held across the planet in both developed and developing economies.

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