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Gabriele Juvan The Five Cities Project

Table of Contents

The Five Cities Project _ 03 A Look from Outside: The Five Cities Project – 14 Years After _ 07 What the Cities Taught Me _ 29 A Look from Inside 1999: People Meeting People, Cities Meeting Cities _ 53 A Look Back from Today: Tokyo 1999 – Hard but Onwards and Upwards _ 55 Notes by Lije: Making the Strange Familiar _ 56 Pack a Box of Your Own _ 57

Phase 1 – As a Foreigner in Cities Prague 1992 _ 09 Moscow 1992 _ 13 New York 1993 _ 17 Tokyo 1994 _ 21 Frankfurt 1995 _ 25

Phase 2 – Spaces for Encounter Frankfurt 1996 _ 32 New York 1996 _ 36 Prague 1997 _ 40 Moscow 1998 _ 44

Tokyo 1999 _ 48

About Guest Artists _ 35 Telecommunication _ 39 Food _ 43 Language _ 47 Claudia or the Caravan _ 51

Epilogue – The Fellow Travellers Guest Artists _ 62 FSP Teams _ 64 Guardian Angels _ 65 Imprint _ 66

Gabriele Juvan The Five Cities Project Frankfurt — Prague — Moscow — New York — Tokyo

For Hiroko-san who taught me to look for the pattern and not only the shape

The Five Cities Project In 1992, I started to explore cities that were entirely new to me. During the first years, all by myself. It was about being curious, overcoming fear and getting to know real people. Which world am I living in? Since 1995, others have joined in an idea which I call the Five Cities Project: a temporary space for encounters. It is a slowly unfolding process which takes shape as it comes into being. A journey of an individual leads to a communication project with 35 guest artists and more than 150 volunteers involved. This book recites the process in pictures and materials of the period as well as in short new texts. You are invited to put them together in your own fashion. Gabriele Juvan

Phase 1

Phase 2

As a Foreigner in Cities

Spaces for Encounter

Prague — 1992

Frankfurt — 1996

Moscow — 1992

New York — 1996

New York — 1993

Prague — 1997

Tokyo — 1994

Moscow — 1998

Frankfurt — 1995

Tokyo — 1999

5t h S


Tokyo 1999 october 27–31 / square next to akihabara jr station Finding a place for the Five Cities Project in Tokyo is a culmination of the unknown. My friend Hiroko or architect Yoshiharu Tsukamoto do the talking in meetings – since everything is in Japanese. During negotiations, I can’t even figure out a word. The codes for business make me feel stripped naked of everything I’ve ever known. But can they communicate what the Five Cities Project is about? I myself am not sure about it anymore.

For the square next to Akihabara JR station, Yoshiharu designs four triangular pavilions, their entrances facing towards the center, with the last drawing on the pavement. German architecture student Lela Erdmann uses her experience from Weimar’s Bauhaus University to transfer Yoshiharu’s sketch into quantities of scaffolding material. Yoshiharu orders poles, planks of plywood and wire mesh from his supplier. During a hot day, and

a cold night, the students of his University lab, the FSP team and some volunteers set them up. The square which inner city Chiyoda Ward has offered is a wonder: one of the rare voids of central Tokyo. The pavilions are visible from the trains of Yamanote circle line, with thousands of commuters passing by every day. I had applied for an empty school ground. The officials kindly declined – and proposed this prominent space instead!


Tokyo 1999 For the last stop there is a guest artist from each city: Performance artist Vernita N’Cognita comes from New York with “How to be the perfect woman”, Pavel Vangeli and his swing-singing marionettes from Prague and Kirill Preobrashenskij from Moscow with his live video work based on magnetic feedback. Yoshiharu Tsukamoto’s design and the music of DJs Cozy and Yama stand for Tokyo. The opening is a festive, warm night with speeches, music, wine and Lela’s fashion performance “Metro Bags”. A circle of red shining cones from a street repair service mark the venue. Those present range from Chiyoda-ku’s mayor and officials of the German embassy to invited guests and nightly passersby, as well as the homeless people who live in their cardboard structures on the limits of the square. I have doubts about the concept of a touring exhibition of my city pieces. But this is a moment the Five Cities Project is about: Each of the guests belongs into this space because that’s the full range of city life. The journey, and the slowly emerging features of Five Cities Project, have taken seven and a half years. Starting with the two Florians, quite a number of people joined and have been joined together by the project too. It definitely is something. But what is it?

About Claudia or the Caravan

The longer it lasts, the more the Five Cities Project becomes like a caravan. People meet us somewhere along the road and follow us to one or more of the other places as onlookers, as helpers or as guest artists. Our temporary spaces in the cities are meeting points and their refuge. In return they give us a hand setting up, dismantling, doing errands or washing dishes. Claudia is the best example of this phenomenon. With FSP in four of five cities, but never on the team, she discovers each city on her own, and gets lost in its nightlife. When around she is stylish, easygoing and brings good vibrations. A fan and a fortune cookie all in one. Finally, even she switches from onlooker to participant, when she designs my dress for FSP’s finale in Tokyo: A green shimmering futuristic thing that makes me feel like a dragonfly or a space princess. A shelter in the middle of Akihabara. The whole caravan is temporary, voluntary and evanescent. Networks are fragile structures. Like a spider you have to pull strings, maintain, mend and extend them. As soon as you stop, the net tears and the knots become solitary fragments again. Then it all starts anew.

five cities project  

The Five Cities Project is a slowly unfolding communication process.

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