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A GUIDE TO AN UTOPIAN CITY


„With cities, it is as with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, its reverse, a fear.“ Calvino, I. 1972, „Invisible Cities“


Zurich University of the Arts Department of Art & Media Master of Arts in Fine Arts

A Guide to an Utopian City by Alejandra Jean-Mairet

Zurich, March 2013


Declaration Hereby I declare that I have a background in architecture, that my mother language is spanish, and that I was born and raised in Lima Peru but I am also half swiss. That I have two sides in me and I had always try to re-conciliate them or find a common ground. I guess this condition of mine, constantly fluctuating between poles, is the reasonwhy I feel draw by concepts that convey certain duality and paradox. Like terms that depend on its opposite in order to be explained and understood or conditions like the one from the ,terrain vague‘ wherein lays an innate duality. These vacant spaces in the city, this fertile ground, expectant, imprecise; offers a counterposition to today‘s predominance of homogeneity and overregulation in the contemporary city. Terrain Vague represents to me this space of confrontation and is a potential common ground for these both sides, the rational and the intuitive, to co-exist. Limits are not clearly defined, they can be shifted anytime, I can be artist and architect. All of my drawings appearing in this guide, found their way out to be placed here. Alejandra Jean-Mairet


INTRODUCTION This is a guide to an utopian city. This guide was originated as I was searching a space for possibilities in the contemporary city. In order to identify this kind of space I gathered a collection of narratives on cities. This collection is comprised by chronicles and tales told by regular inhabitants of the cities, some of them I collected myself and some I chose from the literary field. You will find some of them are in spanish, its original version; I decided not to translate them because they are written in a language full of idioms depicting citizens and city‘s condition very accurately. The idea of this collection was inspired from a kind of mapping that is not the geographical-graphic map we are used to, but a mapping in form of narratives done by the citizens themselves. In these way of expression I feel a real image of the city is being conveyed. This space for possibilities I am searching, must not be necessarily a geometrical physical space. I was wondering what kind of shape would it have? How can I recognize it?


What are its characteristics? Where can I find it or could I build one of my own? And if so, could it then become a shared space as well? Where do we find nowadays a space for experiment, discover, dream, imagine? Is there a kind of space that leads us to reflect, to question? Are all those things even necessary to go forward, to develop and grow? The term ,unexpectedness‘ appeared many times during this search. Unexpected is a term that it is related to its opposite, the expected, it cannot be explained without it, and it is in this relation with its opposite where I find its potential. This constant shift of limits of what we define as expected and unexpected is what gives movement and life to the term. Let‘s welcome the unexpectedness for it might take us out from stagnation and bring some friction in our lives. I share this guide with you, its hints and traces, as well as gaps which you might fill in. The outcome so far of an on-going search. I hope this utopian city will appear different to you than it does to me. There lies the beauty of it.


[ to write, to walk ]

[ to get oriented ]


[ to go forward ]

[ to get lost ]

[ to find oneself ]


To cross a territory To open a path To recognize a place


[ To walk, to write ]

There are spaces that only exist through our words. There are spaces so abstract that they can only exist in our imagination. There are spaces existing only In-Between; places created by our walking, paths becoming places only while we wander.


About walking


[ To walk, to write ]

To walk is a natural, automatic action for man. Yet it is by walking that man began to construct the natural landscape of his surroundings. Walking is the most immediate way man has to recognize space. It is by this simple action that man has established the most important relationships with the land, the territory. To walk is the first step in mapping a space. It has the simultaneous reading and writing of the territory as its inherent characteristic.


[ To walk, to write ]

„The ,walkabout‘ is the system if routes with which the indigenous peoples of Australia have mapped the entire continent. Every mountain, river and spring belongs to a complex system of path-stories - the song lines- that continuously interweave to form a single ,history of the Dream Time‘, the story of the origins of mankind. Each of these paths is connected to a song, and each song is connected to one or more mythological tales set in the territory. (...)“ Careri, F. 2002, „Land&ScapeSeries: Walkscapes“, G.Gili S.A Barcelona, p. 44


„The term ,path‘ indicates simultaneously the act of crossing, the path as the action of walking; the line that crosses the space, the path as architectural object and the tale of the space crossed, the path as a narrative structure.“ Careri, F. 2002, „Land&ScapeSeries: Walkscapes“, G.Gili S.A Barcelona, p. 25


[ To walk, to write ]

„New Babylon doesn‘t end anywhere (because the earth is round); it knows no boundaries (as there are no national economies) or collective life (as humanity is always moving). Each place is accessible to one and all. The entire earth becomes a home for its inhabitants. Life is an infinite voyage through a world that is changing so rapidly that it always seems like another.“ Constant, „New Babylon“, Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, 1974, reprinted in Jean-Clarence Lambert, „New Babylon - Constant. Art et utopie“, Cercle d‘art, Paris, 1997


[ To walk, to write ]

„The sedentary space is striated by walls, enclosures and routes between the enclosures, while the nomadic space is smooth, marked only by ,strokes‘ that are erased or shift with the journey.“ Deleuze, G., Guattari, F. 1987, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Athlone Press, London


The nomadic space


[ To walk, to write ]

The nomadic space, unlike the sedentary space which is dense and solid and hence closed; is a liquid space and therefore open, an infinitely opened inhabited space. The nomadic city is the path itself, its form is the sinuous line drawn by the succession of points in motion. In the nomadic city, the path is the symbolic space where common life takes place. The nomad has developed the capacity to construct his own map constantly, whose geography is in constant change, due to the movements of the observer and the perpetual transformation of the territory.


„The simplest form of a geographical map is not the one that seems most natural to us today, or namely a map representing the surface of the ground as seen by an extraterrestrial gaze. The fist need to put places on a map is connected with travel: it is the reminder of the succession of the stages, the tracing of a route. (...) Following a path from the beginning to the end gives a spacial kind of satisfaction, both in life and in literature (the journey narrative structure), so one may well wonder why the theme of the journey has not met with the same success, and only appears sporadically, in the figurative arts. (...) The need to comprehend in one image both dimension of time and that of space lies ar the origin of cartography. Time as a story of the past (...) and time int the future: as the presence of obstacles that are encountered on the journey, and here the weather (tempo amosferico) is joined with chronological time (tempo cronologico). (...)


[ To walk, to write ]

The geographical map, in short, although static, implies a narrative idea, it is conceived in keeping with an itinerary, it is an Odyssey.“ Calvino,I.,1984, „Il viandante nella mappa“, in "Collezione di sabbia", Palomar/Mondadori, Milan


[ To walk, to write ]

„Writing has nothing to do with signifying. It has to do with surveying, mapping, even realms that are yet to come.“ Deleuze, G., Guattari, F. 1987, „A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia“, translation by Massumi, B. London, Continuum, p. 4, 5


[ To walk, to write ]

Is there anything outside experiences and stories?


About writing


[ To walk, to write ]

To write about what surrounds us is a way of traveling across that space. Through writing and walking we recognize the space, giving it a meaning or shifting it. As we write, questions arise. An endless rhizome net is potentially weaved, to go ahead without thinking about these questions is impossible, writing is an opportunity to go further. Writing implies reflection, implies giving a certain form to our thoughts, feelings, experiences, perceptions. Writing implies finding words to describe what one sees, hears, smells, etc. To translate our perceptions and affections into another language.


Stories are powerful


[ To walk, to write ]

Stories are a way of sharing. When a story is being told, the recipient is invited into the narrative, unfolding thoughts and visions he now takes part in. Furthermore a story involves not only the writer and the recipient but also the characters within. Stories bring life. And like in ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ tales could keep you alive. Stories travel, fly, spread beyond. There are no physical limits. They are bodies that can transform and evolve, unfolding other stories, capturing other people, other places. They have the potential to transcend time and space. Every space, every place is somewhat a story.


[ To walk, to write ]

„The connections between one element of the story and another were not always obvious to the emperor; the objects could have various meanings: a quiver filled with arrows could indicate the approach of war, or an abundance of game, or else an armorer’s shop; an hourglass could mean time passing, or time past, or sand, or a place where hourglasses are made. But what enhanced for Kublai every event or piece of news reported by his inarticulate informer was the space that remained around it, a void not filled with words. The descriptions of cities Marco Polo visited had this virtue: you could wander through them in thought, become lost, stop and enjoy the cool air, or run off.“ Calvino, I. 1972, „Invisible Cities“, translation by Harcourt Brace & Company, 1974, p. 45


What is the use of stories that aren’t even true?


[ To walk, to write ]

The child wanted to know where all these stories his father tells come from. His father was a well known storyteller in the city they lived in. This was a very very sad city, so sad that even its name was forgotten. The only joy was given through his father‘s storytelling. -„They come from the Great Story Sea“ - the father said „I drink the warm Story Waters and then I feel full of steam.“ The kid not satisfied with this explanation argued craftily -“Where do you keep this hot water, then?“ - „It comes from an invisible Tap installed by one of the Water Genies“ - he replied - „but you have to be a subscriber to get it“. The kid was mad, he did not get the concrete answer he was expecting. „I‘ve never seen a Water Genie“. „You are never up in time to see the milkman either, but you don‘t mind drinking the milk. So now kindly desist from this iffing and butting and be happy with the stories you enjoy.“ Story from the book by Salman Rushdie, 1990 „Haroun and the Sea of Stories“


To narrate a city To traverse a map To perceive sounds To guide oneself through smells


I hear the ground rustle under my feet, autumn is here.


[ To get oriented ]

There are other things than symbols and orientation tools. A feeling, an atmosphere, the people, the buildings, the smells, the sites, all these elements that cannot be represented, captured or even described, but from which we are affected, they are also navigators for the memory and recognition of a familiar space.


[ To get oriented ]

„In Paris we wandered from café to café, we went where our steps and our inclinations led us. We had to make due with very little money. I still wonder how we managed. We did dérives in Paris in an extremely limited zone. We discovered routes to go from one place to another that were more like detours. (...) For me, Paris at length remained a perimeter enclosed by Montparnasse, Saint-Germain-desPrés and the Rue de la Huchette. Every time we went our it was an adventure. (...) You discover certain places in the city and you star to appreciate them because they treat you nicely in a bar or because you suddenly fell better. This has a relationship with the sensation you feel for one place rather than another. As Debord has written, if you set off on a dérive in the right frame of mind, you will certainly wind up in the right place.” Gerard Berreby, Ralph Rumney, Le Consul, Editions Allia, Paris, 1999.


[ To get oriented ]

„Everywhere a silence hung over everything like a heavy, unmoving cloud. No sound anywhere. Not of songs from music systems, not of television sets. Each night, in every house, men took turns staying awake, holding in their hands anything that could be used as a weapon. Life stood still. Locks on the doors of every single shop. No light-hearted, night-long gatherings on rooftops to watch movies playing on rented VCRs; no more anticipating a tempo stopping by a park and setting up a screen to project films on an entertain the neighborhood. The change was complete and sudden.” Shyamlalji was among those men who stayed up all night, guarding his family and the lane in which they lived, ready to protect them, a long, sturdy stick held firmly in his hands. The tumult in the city had made every neighborhood quiet, indrawn, fearful. The slightest sound at the door would make everyone’s mouth go dry.“ Tabassum, A., Anand, L., neelofa, Ali, S., Kohli, L., Nagar J., Nasreen, Quraishy R., Khairalia, R., Rai, B., Kumar, T., „No Apologies for the Interruption“, translation by Sarda, S., The Director CSDS, Dehli, 2011, p.18


„Ten minutes past five. Fog covered the bridge. When the platform can no longer be seen, how will the train be visible? Small bonfires have been lit at different places to try and dispel the fog. The sounds of people coughing and clearing their throats and the murmurs of the radio slowly lift the veil from the world.“ Tabassum, A., Anand, L., Neelofar, Ali, S., Kohli, L., Nagar J., Nasreen, Quraishy R., Khairalia, R., Rai, B., Kumar, T., „No Apologies for the Interruption“, translation by Sarda, S., The Director CSDS, Dehli, 2011, p.10


[ To get oriented ]

„He sees someone walking in his direction. There is only one shop with a lit signboard here, and its dim glow is all that illumines this place. Outside this small circle of light, everyone seems to disappear into the surroundings, the way shadows do in the dark.“ Tabassum, A., Anand, L., Neelofar, Ali, S., Kohli, L., Nagar J., Nasreen, Quraishy R., Khairalia, R., Rai, B., Kumar, T., „No Apologies for the Interruption“, translation by Sarda, S., The Director CSDS, Dehli, 2011, p.11


[ To get oriented ]

„I move in a landscape where revolution and love speak overwhelming words.” Rene Chair, „Poèmes (à Aragon)“ in „Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution“, 3, December 1931 (English version: Poems of René Chai, Princeton University Press (N.J.), 1976


Emotional Cartographies


[ To get oriented ]

He uses words, phrases and signs to create an image of his journey. We don‘t know where he has been but we are transferred somehow to that place. This place we are being transferred to is not the same for you than it is for me or anyone else. This place was created through feelings, sensations and memories evoked by seeing this cartography he created. We don‘t see any image, but we might see the colors and feel the temperature. While this imaginary place remains in our minds, on this moment lays the magic, we have been transferred, without the need of moving.


[ To get oriented ]

Febrero, 1985 „Kelly, Cindy y Wendy avanzan de la mano de sus padres por entre la multitud que colma la amplia avenida flanqueada de locales comerciales: bancos, cines, ferreterías, chifas, restaurantes y marquesinas que anuncian: Pollos „Le Poulet“, Centro de Estética Unisex „Johel... En el tope de las casas y edificios de hasta cinco pisos flamean banderas rojiblancas, cadenetas de colores atraviesan la avenida que esta tarde algo nublada de febrero luce casi impecable. Desde hace varios días los vecinos se afanan limpiando ventanas, pintando fachadas; brigadas de jóvenes organizados por las parroquias han barrido las calles y adornado la amplia vía con cadenetas y banderolas.“ Degregori, Blondet, Lynch, 1986, “Conquistadores de un Nuevo Mundo”, IEP (Instituto de Estudios Peruanos); p.39


„Nos encaminamos barrio adentro y siempre, conforme nos alejamos de la avenida Perú con dirección al río, esa sensación de tránsito de la ciudad al campo. No importa que esta vez ponga más atención en los edificios de tres y hasta cuatro pisos, que no son pocos. A pesar de ellos, la ciudad parece quedar atrás, mientras nos internamos en un pequeño pueblo de inciertas fronteras. Y hay un momento, entre Apurímac y Cusco, en que el poblado resulta francamente agradable antes de decaer en el jirón Puno y derrumbarse a medias en el Malecón Rímac. Calles sin tráfico ni basura acumulada, veredas limpias a veces baldeadas, casas con pequeños jardines delanteros, un aire de sueño provinciano, tal vez sueño campesino. Sin embargo, las pilas de ladrillos, los segundos pisos sin enlucir o incluso sin terminar, cierta tugurización que se insinúa a partir del jirón Puno, nos habla de un sueño inconcluso o abruptamente interrumpido por la crisis.“ Degregori, Blondet, Lynch, 1986, “Conquistadores de un Nuevo Mundo”, IEP (Instituto de Estudios Peruanos); p.49


[ To get oriented ]

José „Fue un viernes justamente en la tarde... Salí (del cuartel) a darme un paseo, en ese tiempo había tranvía, pues. Entonces me perdí, no sabia por dónde, las avenidas me parecían iguales. En vez de ir al cuartel, que era la División Blindada, llegué a estarme yendo al Callao, cerca del mar. En lo que estoy así, un guardia me dijo: estás desorientado. El guardia tomó en tranvía y me dejó justamente en la avenida Francisco Pizarro. Uno no está acostumbrado, pues. Así en las ciudades grandes las calles las ve parece igual...” Degregori, Blondet, Lynch, 1986, “Conquistadores de un Nuevo Mundo”, IEP (Instituto de Estudios Peruanos) p.79


My trip to Mallorca September, 2010


[ To get oriented ]

Ovals the color of sand. Cats. Stars Ocean-blue shades. A clear horizon. The moon‘s reflection on the water. Frankie and Connie. And the crazy german lady with her teddy bears. Bread, olives and aiolo. One day you, one day me. The sea, the sand. A cockroach in the shower. Palma, the cathedral and great food.


Transition Zurich, february, 2012


[ To get oriented ]

(...) it was more like floating over Lima rather than being there. I touched people, I saw my family, my friends, I rode the ,Metropolitano‘, we went to dinner, I felt fear of being robbed, I strolled in Barranco with La Mona and Su as if we were in Zurich. We had tea. I ate. I ate a lot. Pulpo, Tiradito, Sushi, ,Pollo a la brasa‘, ,Ají de gallina‘, ,Papa a la Huancaína‘, all the Huancaína sauce I could eat. Chririmoyas, mangos and almost an entire Haydee‘s chocolate cake. I looked through all the stuff I left there, clothes, drawings, brushes, books, household items. Some I brought back, some I left again, some I gave away. Weather was hot. There was an earthquake that I didn‘t feel. I swam in the pool. We played cards. I forgot to bring the ,cachito‘ with me. I‘m not here yet. Transition. Perhaps we are always in transition. Maybe it‘s not a bad thing, it is change, movement, life.


[ To get oriented ]

map n •

• • • • • •

a diagrammatic representation of the earth’s surface or part of it, showing the geographical distributions, positions, etc, of natural or artificial features such as roads, towns, relief, rainfall, etc a diagrammatic representation of the distribution of stars or of the surface of a celestial body a maplike drawing of anything another name for function a slang word for face off the map --> no longer important or in existence (esp in the phrase wipe off the map) put on the map --> to make (a town, company, etc) wellknown

vb (maps, mapping, mapped) (transitive) • • •

to make a map of to represent or transform (a function, figure, set, etc): the results were mapped onto a graph - See also map out map onto --> (intransitive) to fit in with or correspond to

Etymology: 16th Century: from Medieval Latin mappa (mundi) map (of the world), from Latin mappa cloth Synonyms: chart, graph, sketch, diagram, projection, drawing, outline, plan „Map“, 2013. Collins Concise English Dictionary, http://wordreference.com


[ To get oriented ]

orientation n • • • • • • • •

the act or process of orienting or the state of being oriented position or positioning with relation to the points of the compass or other specific directions the adjustment or alignment of oneself or one’s ideas to surroundings or circumstances Also called: orientation course chiefly US Canadian a course, programme, lecture, etc, introducing a new situation or environment (as modifier): an orientation talk the knowledge of one’s own temporal, social, and practical circumstances in life basic beliefs or preferences the siting of a church on an east-west axis, usually with the altar at the E end

Synonyms: familiarization, bearings, introduction, adjustment „Orientation“, 2013. Collins Concise English Dictionary, http://wordreference.com


To follow an instinct To host an adventure To grasp elsewhere


[ To get lost ]

Drifting at the mercy of the waters. The rational and the irrational, the conscious and the unconscious all meet in the term dérive. Careri, F. 2002, “Land&ScapeSeries: Walkscapes”, Gustavo Gili S.A Barcelona


Journey, experience, danger, path


[ To get lost ]

„Behind the voyage there is often a desire for existential change. Travel is atonement for a sin, initiation, cultural growth, experience: „The Indo-European root of the word ‘experience’ is per, which has been interpreted as ‘to attempt’, ‘to test’, ‘to risk’, connotations that survive in the word ‘peril’. The oldest connotations of trial of per appear in the Latin terms for experience: experior, experimentum. This conception of experience as a test, as a passage through a form of action that measures the true dimensions and nature of the person or the object that undergoes it, also describes the most ancient conception of the effects of the voyage on the traveler. Many of the secondary meanings of per explicitly refer to motion: ‘to cross a space’, ‘to reach a goal’, ‘to go outside’. The implications of risk present in ‘peril’ is evident in the gothic kin of per (in which the P becomes F): ferm, fare, fear, ferry. One of the German words for experience, Erfahrung, comes from Old German, irfaran: ‘to travel’, to go out, to cross or to wander. The deeply rooted idea that the voyage is an experience that tests and perfects the character of the traveler is clear in the German adjective bewandert, which today means ‘wise’, ‘expert’ or ‘versed’, but which originally (in the texts of the 15th century) simply was applied to someone who had ‘traveled much’.” ERICH J. LEED, 1991, “The Mind of the Traveler“ From Gilgamesh to Global Tourism, Basic Books, New York


San Bernardino


[ To get lost ]

We went down this huge sand dune running like children in a playground. When we got down a dense fog prevented us from seeing beyond our nose. A feeling of disorientation took over me. A strange sensation, a mix of fear and freedom. Where are the others? I cannot hear my own footsteps, nor the others‘. I kept walking very slowly in this beautiful playground, somehow enjoying not seeing what was surrounding me, but guessing. I remember a pure silence. Maybe we were all immersed in that mystic feeling. The fog disappeared, we were back.


„The heart is always in search of a place which is something else, something apart, something more.” Tabassum, A., Anand, L., Neelofar, Ali, S., Kohli, L., Nagar J., Nasreen, Quraishy R., Khairalia, R., Rai, B., Kumar, T., “No Apologies for the Interruption”, translation by Sarda, S., The Director CSDS, Dehli, 2011, p. 64


[ To get lost ]

„En ese entonces yo me levanté, tomé el desayuno bien temprano por la mañana y le digo a mi cuñada: un ratito, voy afuera, ya regreso. No te vayas a ir lejos, no te vayas a perder. Entonces agarré, tomé en ómnibus, me recuerdo, de Salaverry... Sí, el plomito, y me bajé donde hay un monumento, la plaza Dos de Mayo. Como yo tenía la dirección no podía perderme, pero me asusté, me quedé ahí estáticamente parado, porque no sabía, no por aquí, ni por allá, de repente otro carro me agarra. Total, estaba yo paralizado.” Degregori, Blondet, Lynch, 1986, “Conquistadores de un Nuevo Mundo”, IEP (Instituto de Estudios Peruanos) p. 39


[ To get lost ]

„Not to find one’s way in a city may well be uninteresting and banal. It requires ignorance -nothing more. But to lose oneself in a city -as one loses oneself in a forest- that calls for quite a different schooling. Then, signboards and street names, passers-by, roofs, kiosks, or bars must speak to the wanderer like a cracking twig under his feet in the forest, like the starling call of a bittern in the distance.” WALTER BENJAMIN, 1950, “Berliner Kinderheit um Neunzehnhundert (1930-1933)” , Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main. (English version: “A Berlin Chronicle”, in One-Way Street and Other Writings, NLB, London, 1979).


[ To get lost ]

Dérive „A mode of experimental behavior linked to the conditions of an urban society: a technique of transient passage through varied ambiances. Also used to designate a specific period of continuous ,dériving‘.“ Unsigned, 1958 „Definitions“, in Internationale Situationniste, 1. (English version: LIBERO ANDREOTTI & XAVIER COSA (eds.) op.cit.).

Flânerie „The city is the realisation of the ancient human dream of the labyrinth. Without knowing it, the flaneur is devoted to this reality. (...) Landscape, this is what the city becomes for the flaneur. Or more precisely: for him the city splits into its dialectical poles. It opens to him like a landscape and encloses hum like a room.” WALTER BENJAMIN, Das Passagen-Werk (1929), Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1983 (English version: The Arcades Project, Belknop Press, Cambridge (Mass.), 1999)


[ To get lost ]

adventure n • • • vb • • •

a risky undertaking of unknown outcome an exciting or unexpected event or course of events a hazardous financial operation; commercial speculation to take a risk or put at risk (intransitive) followed by into, on, upon: to dare to go or enter (into a place, dangerous activity, etc) to dare to say (something): he adventured his opinion

Etymology: 13th Century: aventure (later altered to adventure after the Latin spelling), via Old French ultimately from Latin advenīre to happen to (someone), arrive Synonyms: chance, dare, enterprise, episode, escapde, event, experiece, exploit, exploration, romance, saga, travel „Adventure“, 2013. Collins Concise English Dictionary, http://wordreference. com


[ To get lost ]

instinct n • •

the innate capacity of an animal to respond to a given stimulus in a relatively fixed way inborn intuitive power

Etymology: 15th Century: from Latin instinctus roused, from instinguere to incite; compare instigate Synonyms: intuition, automatic response, natural tendency „Instinct“, 2013. Collins Concise English Dictionary, http://wordreference. com


[ To get lost ]

mystery n (PL -teries) • • • • • • •

an unexplained or inexplicable event, phenomenon, etc a person or thing that arouses curiosity or suspense because of an unknown, obscure, or enigmatic quality the state or quality of being obscure, inexplicable, or enigmatic a story, film, etc, which arouses suspense and curiosity because of facts concealed any truth that is divinely revealed but otherwise unknowable a sacramental rite, such as the Eucharist, or (when plural) the consecrated elements of the Eucharist (often plural) any of various rites of certain ancient Mediterranean religion

Etymology: 14th Century: via Latin from Greek mustērion secret rites. See mystic Synonyms: inscrutablility, magic, strangeness, elusiveness, riddle, enigma, secret, puzzle „Mystery“, 2013. Collins Concise English Dictionary, http://wordreference. com


[ To get lost ]

After all, who doesn‘t want to be a wanderer? Who doesn‘t want to drift away, become lost?


To construct relations To find objects To take phrases


[ To find oneself ]

„Identification is the privileged mechanism by which other histories and memories become our own.� Burgin, V. 1996, In/different spaces: place and memory in visual culture, Berkeley, University of California press, p. 239


People and Place


[ To find oneself ]

The production of space is a complex one, it rises out from time, cultural heritage, events and the interrelations between the individuals that inhabit this space and the social structures inherent to it. What is common in this production of space is the need to possess it. Man needs to domesticate space, to create bonds with it, develop a feeling of familiarity so he can identify himself within it. This familiarity is based on the personal relation with that space as well as on the integration of the historical narration of the city. In an urban environment this feeling of familiarity can be associated to symbols. Collective symbols, usually bound to the history of the space, function as orientation tools, constituting a frame that helps the individual place himself in a greater map. As these symbols also contribute to the common knowledge and the common experience of the space, they are fundamental in the formation of the collective memory of a city.


[ To find oneself ]

In the era of ,governmentality‘ the state of government „is no longer essentially defined by its territoriality, by the surface it occupies, but by a mass: the mass of the population, with its volume, its density, with the territory that it covers.“ Foucault, M. 1978, Governmentality, in Faubion, J. D. (ed.) 2002, Power/Michel Foucault, translated by Hurley, R. London, Penguin, p.221


How do we affect a place and how does a place affects us? What do we bring to it and what does it give back?


[ To find oneself ]

There is a dialogue, a mutual influence between people and space. A permanent correspondence, a constant conformation between the both of them. To domesticate the space could imply the risk of being tamed by it. When a space becomes a place loaded with emotions, memories and narratives, whether collective or personal, when we associate this space with an experience or an event, then a bond has been created, we have given the space a soul, we have animated it. We have made this place part of our story.


[ To find oneself ]

„One only understands the things that one tames - said the fox - Men have no more time to understand anything.“ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, „The Little Prince“


„Raju: Is there a story to how you began working in Govindpuri? Mananji: I came to Delhi from a village in Punjab My brother used to live in Delhi. He worked as a carpenter, the work my family has done for generations. I was very thin when I first came to Delhi, so my brother thought carpentry would be very difficult for me. “You’re not cut our for work like this,” he said. He told me I should look for lighter work. I thought I’d like to be a driver. Bur learning driving needs time, which I didn’t have. I would have needed a year or two to learn driving well. And driving is not without risks or hassless. So my brother spoke to someone who did repair work. At that time, new radio sets used to be made in that shop. I worked there for two years. I learnt a few things, and I particularly got to know a little bit about materials. Also, if you work in one place for two years, you learn a lot. That’s how my interest, of hobby, became my work. It was mostly radios before 1984. Everyone used to roam about listening to radios. At best, radio sets used to require sound parts repaired. Or there would be requests to have small speakers connected to the radio set. In my two years at Govindpuri, once I had learned enough, I also used to teach the newer apprentices who came to work there. We


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would distribute minor works among them. The rest of the work, the owner would do on his own. And, by being with him, I learned the work too. I’ve worked a lot but always with someone else. Now, too, I work for someone. I never set up my own place. Raju: So getting into this work was not your decision? Mananji: No. I was about fourteen or fifteen then. At that age, one gets shaped according to the mould one is cast in. Beyond that, how things pan out depends on each person’s inclinations and interests.“ Tabassum, A., Anand, L., Neelofar, Ali, S., Kohli, L., Nagar J., Nasreen, Quraishy R., Khairalia, R., Rai, B., Kumar, T., „No Apologies for the Interruption“, translation by Sarda, S., The Director CSDS, Dehli, 2011, p. 45


[ To find oneself ]

„As I was walking, one hot summer afternoon, through the deserted streets of a provincial town in Italy which was unknown to me, I found myself in a quarter of whose character I could not remain long in doubt. Nothing but painted women were to be seen at the windows of the small houses, and I hastened to leave the narrow street at the next turning. But after having wandered about for a time without enquiring my way, I suddenly found myself back in the same street, where my presence was now beginning to excite attention. I hurried away once more, only to arrive by another détour at the same pace yet a third time. Now, however, a feeling overcame me which I can only describe as uncanny, and I was glad enough to find myself back at the piazza I had left a short while before, without any further voyages of discovery.“ Burgin, V. 1996, In/different spaces: place and memory in visual culture, Berkeley, University of California press, p. 93


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„Personal symbols are the reference points that show that in spite of the existence of a common narration, there is also a very personal and unique inhabitation of the space. Simultaneously they confirm the existence of the city as a legitimate space that is part of the continuity of a historical narration.“ Theodoropoulu, L. 2011, „Dealing with a Paradox“, http://artandeducation.net/paper/


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Who gets to decide what is to remember in a city? How does a city‘s imagery get built?


Destruction and reconstruction of space


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The aim of destruction in a war is the total elimination of all the memories and the narrations that have formed a nation as such. This would leave the citizens disoriented, with no symbols or landmarks to rely on. They are left adrift, lost in their own city, a disappeared city. As a means of governance, reconstruction is connected to the exclusion of certain social groups, through forced changes in how the space should be inhabited. Reconstruction could lead to a change of the power relations of a space, to different ways of regulation and modulation of the movement of the citizens. The effect on the citizens is in the long term the same, which is to leave them in a state of bewilderment. Community is being dissolved. Becoming engrossed in an individual world, in which the creation of collective memory, traditions and history becomes harder every time. We are becoming easier to erase, we exist less. Our identity is threatened of being replaced by this imaginary created by others.


Erasing memories, we start from scratch


[ To find oneself ]

To erect today‘s new city, and by that I‘m referring to a generic and homogeneous city, with its controlled and monitored spaces; the ideal plot is the ,clean‘ plot, the one devoid from any sign of the past, inhabitants, buildings or memory. We are at the same time, partakers, witnesses and victims of processes of erasing real memory and the invention of new thematic and imposed memories. A fake memory that expels the existent and replace it with an imago. We get detached from our past, our identity, we are being told who we are supposed to be, in what to believe, where we come from and where to go to.


EUFEMIA „Proceeding eighty miles into the northwest wind, you reach the city of Euphemia, where the merchants of seven nations gather at every solstice and equinox. The boat that lands there with a cargo of ginger and cotton will set sail again, its hold filled with pistachio nuts and poppy seeds, and the caravan that has just unloaded sacks of nutmegs and raisins is already cramming its saddlebags with bolts of golden muslin for the journey. But what drives men to travel up rivers and cross deserts to come here is not only the exchange of wares, which you could find, everywhere the same, in all the bazaars inside and outside the Great Khan’s empire, scattered at your feet in the same yellow mats, in the shade of the same awnings protecting them from the flies, offered with the same lying reduction in prices. You do not come to Euphemia only to buy and sell, but also because at night, by the fires all around the market, seated on sacks or barrels or stretched out on piles of carpets, at each word that one man says -such as ‘wolf,’ ‘sister,’ ‘hidden treasure,’ ‘battle,’ ‘scabies,’ ‘lovers’ - the others tell, each one, his tale of wolves, sisters, treasures, scabies, lovers, battles. And you know that in the long journey ahead of you, when to keep


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awake against the camel’s swaying or the junk’s rocking, you start summoning up you memories one by one, your wolf will have become another wolf, your sister a different sister, your battle other battles, on your return from Euphemia, the city where memory is traded at every solstice and at every equinox.“ Calvino, I. 1972, Invisible Cities, translation by Harcourt Brace & Company, 1974, p. 43


ZAIRA “In vain, great-hearted Kublai, shall I attempt to describe Zaira, city of high bastions. I could tell you how many steps make up the streets rising like stairways, and the degree of the arcades’ curves, and what kind of zinc scales cover the roofs; but I already know this would be the same as telling you nothing. The city does not consist of this, but of relationships between the measurements of its space and the events of its past: the height of a lamppost and the distance from the ground of a hanged usurper’s swaying feet; the line strung from the lamppost to the railing opposite and the festoons that decorate the course of the queen’s nuptial procession; the height of that railing and the leap of the adulterer who climbed over it at dawn; the tilt of a guttering and a cat’s progress along it as he slips into the same window; the firing range of a gunboat which has suddenly appeared beyond the cape and the bomb that destroys the guttering; the rips in the fish net and the three old men seated on the dock mending nets and telling each other for the hundredth time the story of the gunboat of the usurper, who some say was the queen’s illegitimate son, abandoned in his swaddling clothes there on the dock.


[ To find oneself ]

Ad this wave from memories flows in, the city soaks it up like a sponge and expands. A description of Zaira as it is today should contain all Zaira’s past. The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls.“ Calvino, I. 1972, Invisible Cities, translation by Harcourt Brace & Company, 1974, p. 17


[ To find oneself ]

„When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something has suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.“ Billie Mobayed


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identity n ( pl -ties) • • • •

the state of having unique identifying characteristics held by no other person or thing the individual characteristics by which a person or thing is recognized Also called: qualitative identity the state of being the same in nature, quality, etc the state of being the same as a person or thing described or claimed

Etymology: 16th Century: from Late Latin identitās, from Latin idem the same Synonyms: individuality, uniqueness, personality, character „Identity“, 2013. Collins Concise English Dictionary, http://wordreference.com


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memory n (PL -ries) • • • • • • •

the ability of the mind to store and recall past sensations, thoughts, knowledge, etc. the part of the brain that appears to have this function the sum of everything retained by the mind a particular recollection of an event, person, etc the time over which recollection extends commemoration or remembrance the state of being remembered, as after death

Etymology: 14th Century: from Old French memorie, from Latin memoria, from memor mindful Synonyms: recollection, mental image „Memory“, 2013. Collins Concise English Dictionary, http://wordreference.com


To celebrate dangers To tail people To take on the challenge


How do you feel in front of a white canvas?


[ To go forward ]

„The voids save the city from appearing homogeneous, they provide the city a complex evolutionary dynamic, they provide therefore life.“ Stalker, www.stalkerlab.it


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Not everything has to be regulated, not every link has to be obvious, not everything has to be given. To see the voids as open spaces, as something-is-yet-tocome spaces. The pursuit for a new nature, a territory free of representation, spaces that escape generic and homogeneous normativity of today‘s cities. Spaces in continuous transformation. Spaces that are able to confuse us, spaces that take us out of the loop. Not clear defined, open, vague, unclassified. Spaces where new questions arise, where hypothesis might emerge.


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A playful city which involves creativity, will and risk. It trespasses limits and goes beyond norms; proposes other ways of living, dares to a new architecture. A revolutionary gesture, a contradiction: to design a city for people that negates the city.


Terrain Vague „It is impossible to capture in a single English word or phrase the meaning of the French terrain vague. In French, the term terrain has a more urban quality that the English land: it translate a extension of ground in the city, but it also refers to a larger a perhaps less precisely defined areas of territory, in expectant conditions. [‌] The second word, vague, has a double Latin origin as well as a Germanic origin. This latter, from the root vagr-wogue, refers to the sea swell, waves on the water: movement, oscillation, instability, fluctuation. Wave, in English. We have greater interest in the two Latin roots which come together in the French term vague. First of all we have vague as a descent of vacuus, giving us vacant, vacuum in English, which is to say empty, unoccupied. And yet also free, available, unengaged. The relationship between the absence of use, of activity, and the sense of freedom, of expectancy, is fundamental to understanding all the evocative of terrain vague in perception of the city. Void, then, as absence, and yet also as a promise, as encounter, as the space of the possible: expectation. There is second meaning superimposed on the French vague, as vacant. This attaches to the term as deriving from Latin vagus, giving vague


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in English, too, in the sense of indeterminate, imprecise, blurred, uncertain. It certainly appears that the analogous terms we have remarked are generally preceded by a negative particle (in-determinate, im-precise, un-certain), but it is no less the case that this absence of limit, this almost oceanic sentiment, to use Freud’s expression, is precisely the message which contains the expectations of mobility, vagrant roving, free time, liberty.“ De Solà-Morales, Ignasi, „Terrain Vague“, 1995


What is to surprise? To be surprised?


„Do you know why I’m saving up?” the woman sitting next to me asked me suddenly. „I want to make a breathing, living, spectacular tower which will have within it countless small rooms. Each room will have innumerable shelves, and from these shelves, everyone will be able to to take of those things that I have been able to understand, those thoughts which I think come to everyone in different ways and in myriad forms, those dreams that have always frightened me. I know splendor is attractive to everyone. Nothing in this tower that I build will be plain. „Even the minor spattering of adhesive and paint, the blemishes left after a construction, will be resplendent. This tall tower I make will be different from all others. Each morning at daybreak and every evening during sunset, the sun will cast its rays upon this tower, and they will scatter into the tower’s many rooms in different, extraordinary colors.” Tabassum, A., Anand, L., Neelofar, Ali, S., Kohli, L., Nagar J., Nasreen, Quraishy R., Khairalia, R., Rai, B., Kumar, T., „No Apologies for the Interruption“, translation by Sarda, S., The Director CSDS, Dehli, 2011, p.15


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„At Love and Nandu’s Rescripting Studio, you can do this and more! Every Friday evening, get together with others and experiment, create, invent. Be that person who inserts herself into what has already been made to create it completely anew. Write dialogues, invent scenarios, spin your own tale. Make your own script. Create a new library of images and styles. And do it with many others. Call us any time at 9213192814“ Tabassum, A., Anand, L., Neelofar, Ali, S., Kohli, L., Nagar J., Nasreen, Quraishy R., Khairalia, R., Rai, B., Kumar, T., „No Apologies for the Interruption“, translation by Sarda, S., The Director CSDS, Dehli, 2011, p. 68


„(...) Dreams that are dreamt with open eyes can’t be called strange dreams. There aren’t dreams dreamt while one sleeps, belied once sleep is spent and one awakens. Nor are they daydreams, meant to be tucked away in the far recesses of the mind. There are dreams that add fuel to fantasy, making imagined worlds stronger, their possibilities more real. Many set out to fulfill these dreams. They disappear, take flight one day, in search of that other world which is their own. The head out from home, a small bag packed with a change of clothes in their hands, a few rupees in heir pockets. Or then, someone reaches a set where a shoot is on, doing everything within his means to get a chance to show his skills. And this in front of someone who must have come here before him to become an actor too and who is even now in line. And someone else, finding his love thwarted, takes off with his girl, steals her away from her home. These are not dreams, they’re reality. Sometimes cinema learns from lives, and sometimes lives learn from cinema. (...) A police constable, baton beating the ground, comes near them and says, in a way which sends waves through bodies, „What the hell are you standing here for? Just loitering? Selling tickets on the black? What do you keep doing here? Here to pick a pocket, are you? I’ve been watching you.”


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These young men who dream with their eyes open (these ‘pickpockets’, there ‘ticket blackers’ and these who-knowswhat-they-might-be-called-next) listen quietly, or they sometimes become gutsy and talk back. They aren’t about to produce any bribes, so the constable can bear down on them a bit harder. For now, these young men will move away. But for sure, they’ll be back again tomorrow.“ Tabassum, A., Anand, L., Neelofar, Ali, S., Kohli, L., Nagar J., Nasreen, Quraishy R., Khairalia, R., Rai, B., Kumar, T., „No Apologies for the Interruption“, translation by Sarda, S., The Director CSDS, Dehli, 2011, p.30


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„Good that you’re doing something which has a reality, which can be seen. Otherwise you conjure dreams in the dark and build dream worlds with your words.“ Tabassum, A., Anand, L., Neelofar, Ali, S., Kohli, L., Nagar J., Nasreen, Quraishy R., Khairalia, R., Rai, B., Kumar, T., „No Apologies for the Interruption“, translation by Sarda, S., The Director CSDS, Dehli, 2011, p.68


ZORA „Beyond six rivers and three mountain ranges rises Zora, a city that no one, having seen it, can forget. But not because, like other memorable cities, it leaves an unusual image in your recollections. Zora has the quality of remaining in your memory point by point, in its succession of streets, of houses along the streets, and of doors and windows in the houses, though nothing in them possesses a special beauty or rarity. Zora’s secret lies in the way your gaze runs over patterns following one another as in a musical score where not a note can be altered or displaced. The man who knows by heart how Zora is made, if he is unable to sleep at night, can imagine he is walking along the streets and he remembers the order by which the copper clock follows the barber’s striped awning, then the fountain with the nine jets, the astronomer’s glass tower, the melon vendor’s kiosk, the statue of the hermit and the lion, the Turkish bath, the café at the corner, the alley that leads to the harbor. This city which cannot be expunged from the mind is like an armature, a honeycomb in whose cells each of us can place the things he wants to remember: names of famous men, virtues, numbers, vegetable and mineral classifications, dates of battles, constellations, parts


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of speech. Between each idea and each point of the itinerary an affinity of a contrast can be established, serving as an immediate aid to memory. So the world’s most learned men are those who have memorized Zora. But in vain I set out to visit the city: forced to remain motionless and always the same, in order to be more easily remembered, Zora has languished, disintegrated, disappeared. The earth has forgotten her.“ Calvino, I. 1972, Invisible Cities, translation by Harcourt Brace & Company, 1974, p. 22


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CHLOE „(...) And thus, when some people happen to find themselves together, taking shelter from the rain under an arcade, or crowding beneath an awning of the bazaar, or stopping to listen to the band in the square, meetings, seductions, copulations, orgies are consummated among them without a finger touching anything, almost without an eye raised. A voluptuous vibration constantly stirs Chloe, the most chaste of cities. If men and women began to live their live their ephemeral dreams, every phantom would become a person with whom to begin a story of pursuits, pretenses, misunderstandings, clashes, oppressions, and the carousel of fantasies would stop.“ Calvino, I. 1972, Invisible Cities, translation by Harcourt Brace & Company, 1974, p. 58


The magic chair A square. A public square, a very busy one, hundreds of people gathered there throughout the day. One watches and is being watched in return, one can be heard and can listen as well. There is life and movement, nothing ever becomes stale. One can reinvent himself, change roles, become a character in someone else‘s story. For a while you are able to enter another domain and share it with some others whether by listening, imagining or telling. In this square there is a magic chair. The magic chair comes alive every time a person forms a pair with another one. One speaks, the other listens. There is this magical condition of interacting. Your listener will try to go into your world, images will come to his head, sensations to his body. Your story might evoke something in him and then it is no longer only yours but also his story. When midnight comes everyone in the square would have had the chance to sit on that chair. Everyone has been the teller and the listener at least once. And if by that time you haven‘t been either, then is not like in the game of musical chairs, where the player who is left without a chair is eliminated from the game. No, here, by midnight the magic


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chair is placed in the middle of the square and that person will not just have one listener to hear his story, but every single person in the square. The magic chair is both desire and danger. It is a desire which is latent in each of us for a flight, for an unhinging, for a search. But it is also a space of danger as it can disrupt the assured solid surface on which daily life is played out identity, family, belonging. A story from the book: „No Apologies for the Interruption“, 2011; Tabassum, A., Anand, L., Neelofar, Ali, S., Kohli, L., Nagar J., Nasreen, Quraishy R., Khairalia, R., Rai, B., Kumar, T., „No Apologies for the Interruption“, translation by Sarda, S., The Director CSDS, Dehli,


Your city and your favorite spot


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How do you feel in your city? Is there something you would like to change? What do you wish for your city? Have you ever lived someplace else than the city you were born in? Do you feel you are important to your city? Do you play a role in your city? Where is your favorite spot in your city? Do you go there often? What is it that makes you feel good there? How is the space? Is it open, closed, cosy, wide? Is it inside a building, outside in nature? How do you get there? Is it important the path to get there? Do you walk there, drive, use public transport? How would you describe it, by writing, drawing, speaking?


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surprise VB (transitive) • • • • • •

to cause to feel amazement or wonder to encounter or discover unexpectedly or suddenly to capture or assault suddenly and without warning to present with something unexpected, such as a gift (followed by into) to provoke (someone) to unintended action by a trick, etc (often followed by from) to elicit by unexpected behaviour or by a trick

Etymology: 15th Century from Old French, from surprendre to overtake, from SUR- + prendre from Latin prehendere to grasp; see prehensile „to surprise“, 2013. Collins Concise English Dictionary, http://wordreference.com


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imagination n • • •

the faculty or action of producing ideas, especially mental images of what is not present or has not been experienced mental creative ability the ability to deal resource fully with unexpected or unusual problems, circumstances, etc.

Synonyms: inventiveness, creativity, fancy, imaginativeness, invention, vision, creative ability „imagination“, 2013. Collins Concise English Dictionary, http://wordreference.com


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unexpected adj •

surprising or unforeseen

unexpectedly adv ˌ unexpectedness n Synonyms: unforeseen, surprising, fortuitous, startling, unheralded, unpredicted, unanticipated, not bargained for, unprepared for „Unexpected“, 2013. Collins Concise English Dictionary, http://wordreference.com


To dare to imagine To find the time to dream To take the risk



A GUIDE TO AN UTOPIAN CITY