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Cover: street art, Dresden (Germany)

a collection of contemporary artists’ manifestations with contributions by: Martha Aitchison, London, England ::: Almandrade, Bahia, Brazil ::: Jean Delvaux, Luxembourg ::: Jennifer Esrailian, Las Vegas, Nevada ::: KarlFriedrich Hacker, Itzehoe, Germany ::: Eberhard Janke, Berlin, Germany ::: Susanna Lakner, Stuttgart, Germany ::: Fatima Lasay, Quezon City, Philippines ::: Rita J. McNamara, Manton, Michigan ::: Oyvind Molbach, San Francisco, California ::: Antonio Orihuela, Huelva, Spain ::: Keiichi Nakamura, Tokyo, Japan ::: Bernd Reichert, Brussels, Belgium ::: Miriam Rinck, Harare, Zimbabwe & Buenos Aires, Argentina ::: JÜrg Seifert, Annaberg-Buchholz, Germany ::: Carol Stetser, Sedona, Arizona ::: Tamara Wyndham, New York City :::

Editorial This is the third edition of the Bizarre Cities. This time the theme has been Urban Myths. We know that every valley, every wood and every landscape has its specific myths, stories and fairytales. And even old towns have their own stories. But what about our modern cities, we are living in? What are the myths of a megapolis, which stories do the inner-space astronauts, the urbanauts, the collectors and hunters of the inner cities and suburbs tell each other at the campfire? What happened in a big city to our need to connect space and time with a narrative structure? These where the kind of questions I had in mind when inviting a number of artists to respond to the mail art project on Urban Myths. A few responded to this with texts and images. All my thanks and gratitude to them. And as with the issues before, I dedicate this one to the self-published mimeographic and xerographic publications of the 1960’s and their attempt to provide a platform form of appearance for artists outside the cultural mainstream and I confess my succession. Brussels in Spring 2004 Bernd Reichert

The city and the aesthetics of progress By Almandrade - Bahia / Brazil "The city has the right to progress. I have the right of not enjoying that kind of progress. I have the right of being disappointed if I can't find there what I used to find". Joao Cabral de Melo Neto Indifference is the habit of a society that has lost the community sense. Consumism is the motto of progress that turns the city into a passing place, where everything can be destroyed and built at any moment. Stories can be replaced by others without future hope. "The urban form, its supreme reason, that is, simultaneity and meeting people cannot disappear" (Lefebvre). The city might be the biggest window through which daily episodes of material existence are lived and observed within the indifference of money. The fun urban occupation by a dreamy population moved by the matter-of-fact way of living, the unpredictable was discarded by the contemporary "polis". The city is the stage for reproduction of money and of the dominant culture, what is discovered or invented disappears at the same speed. The experiences are lived as in a show, urban life is a group of play scenes. "The shanty-town is the result of the indifference towards the workman existence", (Sergio Bernardes). He is not an actor, neither is his reality virtual. Consuming is important, the ethics of economy. Reality evaporates in the show and at the speed of fashion. The urban man, who is privileged for having the most efficient machines that help the modern life, ended up transforming the city into a deposit of all kinds of garbage. A deposit of buildings, avenues, automobiles, of the excess of information, of employees and of unemployed people. The automobile is the most seductive machine of the daily life. If mass transportation did not develop enough, on the other hand, the car has been getting more and more sophisticated in its design, accessories and frills, as if it were a house on wheels, with all the domestic comfort. Life, without any doubt, depends on the car, even orgasm. The production of these machines is stimulated because it generates jobs, taxes, it moves the economy, produces profit, but the number of cars is getting more and more incompatible with the area of circulation. The changes are as fast as fashion: the natural environment is being destroyed to make room for more avenues, more parking places and more cars. We have the obligation of consuming, not only the product but also its image, the architecture simulacrum is another urban image used as the symbol of a new society. We live the "triumph of the forgetting our memories, the ignorant drunkenness, amnesia". (Baudrillard)

The art in the city, which should be the intervention to restore the poetics denied by money and by consumism, has been repeatedly used, even naively, as an authoritarian image, covering brick-walls, reproducing contradictory images with the urban scale that disguises the city's visual diversity and privatises what once was anonimous, the product of a collective work without signature. The expropriation of the public space, in the name of art, turns the city into a deposit of images that decorate the progress that buries and pollutes rivers, devastated green areas, substituted the beauty conquered by the city throughout the years, etc. Why colour, or better, why dirty all the corners of the city with images? Why hide the stone constructions, incorporated to the urban memory, with the marks made by time? To embellish the automobiles way? At the same time, these images ignore the speed of sight. It is as if the city did not have a history, it is as if it were abandoned, and its users or dwellers were beings without thinking and memory. Instead of decorating the city and stereotyping individuals, why not plant trees, clean beaches, bring back the natural colours of the city, etc. To restore and clean what was destroyed and dirtied by the ideology of a devastating progress? This would be at least an exercise of citizenship, what is lacking in the urban environment. The urban man is a consumer of products and images, of leisure and sex. The modern speed is strangely associated to the waste of time of moving around and bureaucracy. If today one can spend one or two hours in a traffic-jam, everybody is sure, tomorrow it will be worse. Consuming is important, its the ethics of the city economy. Progress is merely the possibility of consuming more. "If human beings can't tell the difference between ugly and beautiful, tranquillity and noise, it is because they no longer know the essential quality of freedom, of happiness," (Herbert Marcuse). Copying and homogenizing leads to depauperation. In a shelter with a few square meters, surrounded by appliances, the urban man watches everything, in his freedom of not going anywhere and with the happiness of not getting involved with anything. The same culture that invented the beauty of silicone has the crowd, the traffic, the publicity and the tourist as the performance of the reality that disguises the city and its social and cultural compromise. The urban man is a products, images, leisure and sex consumer. He ends up accepting the images imposed by his look, at the same way he believes in the 'whitest of the whitest' of the soap advertisement. So, some doubts about these urban aesthetics experiences appear, about its capacity of enriching the daily life. The interventions repeat themselves as a virus in the urban fabric and the city ma, brought up to consume the images of progress, lost the cultural curiosity. There is a passive acceptance, the same way one breathes carbon monoxide as something necessary in the cities. Excess creates emptiness. And before repetion and emptiness, the first exotic image that stands out of the monotony of the landscape distracts the look of the ones who passes in a hurry, without time to dedicate to his thoughts. English Version: Rosa Campos

Oyvind Molbach, San Francisco (CA)

Bernd Reichert In my cellar Do you see the cracks in our consciousness? Between the burst spots another consciousness is blinking. The counter-sun blinds us with its fallow light, the rays enter our bodies. Do you feel them? As they start to possess our mind? Hold my hand… The eyes of the Others are starring at us. They look at us, out of this fog, from the corners of this room, through the fissures in the ceiling, they look at us. We cannot flee from them, they are around us, allover this place. They will follow us, wherever we are. Nobody believes us, nobody understands us, but they will follow us. Let us taste the fruit of oblivion… don’t let me fall… keep me, keep me close… you… the Others… In this black room the shadows perch in the corners. I can sense them, I feel them starring at me. Caught in myself I feel them approaching me, slowly. I fall into this crimson abyss, its glowing rims are pulsing, everything is red, deep red, everything is black, I am falling… A hard night is coming. The Others have tracked me down. They have found my cellar, my shelter. Scenting they have surrounded me. They are always near, but I have noticed them already. Yesterday and even on the days before. They don’t move away, sometimes I can hear their rustling. But they did not show up for a long time. A hard night is coming… I awake, is it still night or already day? I cannot make it out. A haze lies upon my eyes, a cold light illuminates the room. I cannot move my arms and legs, something holds them back. Even the head I cannot move. A steel cane seems to keep it stiff. I feel them, somewhere far away, like at the other side of the room. They prick and cut into my body. I don’t feel any pain, but I feel them inside me. And I hear them talking, hear their voices without getting the meaning. As I understand the first piece of a word, they notice that I can hear them and they let me sink back into my night. Once or twice I will try to get back into reality without success…

We came over the ocean. It has been windy and the passage has been difficult and unpleasant. Time has been passing. Behind the walls of the city there was no feeling of the sea, only the storm remained inside us. Against the noise of the wind I told you about me, about my hell, nobody knows, its darkness, its deepness. And about its coldness - did it come from the outside, really from the outside? During the journey we were sailing over the rapids of sorrowfulness, until the long shadows of dusk forced us behind the walls of the city. No feeling of the sea anymore, only our melancholy was still crying against the storm. We fled from the Others behind the walls of the city, looking into the juts and niches. An aperture was inviting us to surrender to its narrowness and to taste its deepness until the last moment, until the last image. You dragged me back. The letter had not been finished. It was awaiting us behind the tapestry. When we fled from the Others into the empty room, and the door closed behind us, it fell down. It fell and fell, we fell and fell, the floor was a black hole, swallowing us. When will the blackness end? In my dream I saw birds falling; their bodies lay everywhere and there was no possibility to avoid them. Full of fear we fled the deserted streets of this city. Under the skin we felt the breath of the Others, following us. Suddenly the street and the city ended and we stand before a deep abyss. Before we fell, I hold tight to a withered shrub. And I saw you trying to cry. I awakened; in my hand I held a dry leaf.

Edition of 25 Š with the artists for the individual artwork Š Bernd Reichert for the assembling design and layout

Bizarre Cities tom III: Urban Myths  

The „Bizarre Cities“ is a irregularly appearing collaborative art magazine including texts, (visual) poetry and original artworks in a limit...

Bizarre Cities tom III: Urban Myths  

The „Bizarre Cities“ is a irregularly appearing collaborative art magazine including texts, (visual) poetry and original artworks in a limit...