So as you you may have heard, we have recently spent time together on a residency in Berlin. Peter kindly hosted (most of) us in his one-bedroom apartment and we worked, talked, walked, and laughed a lot. We were here working on a new project born out of our fascination with cityscapes, the multiplicities of a space and urban unlocking. With this in mind and Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities open in the corner of the studio, I invite you to engage with a game we played around with in.
I describe to you a man. This man is a city. Can you guess which one?
Quietness arrived. It is 3 in the morning and silence is rare. He was a handsome man. A little older now with dark hair and dark skin. You could tell he had an amazing smile, if only he showed it to you. His hair, a little long was greying very subtly at his temples. This man is a city. He was a kind man. He is worn down by the years with eyes full of unfulfilled aspirations, but he is still determined. He is a simple man. He wears a white vest underneath all his clothing, a small belly protruding on top of a very slender body. He wears bifocals but rarely puts them over his eyes, he doesn’t need them he says, instead they hold his hair from falling over his face.
He constantly wears construction boots, with a heavy-duty rubber sole, yet he does not have a job. He is a smoker. He smokes in the morning, he smokes with his breakfast, he smokes while talking to his wife, he smokes while greeting his daughters, he smokes while advising his only son. He smokes when he is working, he smokes when he is resting, he smokes before and after he prays, and he smokes into the night. This man is a city.
This man is a collector. He collects everything. His garage is full, bursting and bleeding out into other areas of the house, but all these treasures of the modern world are gathering dust, none of it works, but he still has them. He was an engineer. He is constantly tinkering and playing with something, trying to pry it open to understand it. He thinks he can fix it, but rarely does.
He is a beautiful man. He has great intentions and a perfect laugh but is often chastised for his selfishness. He loves with all his heart in the only way he knows. This is often not enough. He is found in deep thought, contemplating how he got here. He has many regrets. But there is hope, he has a new idea, things are on the rise.
This man is a city. Can you guess which one?