The work of photographer and filmmaker Jan Dirk van der Burg shows trails: narrow and unpaved paths created by being walked or ridden over again and again. They follow the organic movements of people who move through the world on foot or by bicycle. In this way, they call into question the sharply and clearly delineated spaces created on the drawing board by infrastructure and city planners. Here, trails represent resistance, small gestures of civil disobedience. They protest against this will to order and design, which blankets everything and yet makes no sense in daily life. They appear wherever the planners of the still car friendly world did not reckon with people who have a mind of their own.
Larissa Fassler builds and draws space. Yet nothing here is cleaned up or ordered according to scale. In the large-format drawings of cities, she shows us what we experience when we walk over traffic islands, through underpasses, and passages, or into the entrances of buildings. The artist overlays the built space with appropriations. She observes and walks through the space over and over again, collecting and mapping what she finds. This is also the case with her work Kotti (revisited). The many fragments layered on top of each other tell stories of a complex space that proudly says: »I am city. I am neither easy to understand nor easy to plan. I will defend myself if you seek to question my existence.« The big colorful picture calls for planning to take care of and work with lived space instead of against it. Because where is this city going to go if it has to leave here?
Attempting to Capture a Place
Surveillance cameras have become an integral part of cityscapes in many parts of Europe. But cameras are not neutral companions: everything goes into these devices and is transmitted. Someone, somewhere else, watches, evaluates, processes, analyses, and documents it all. What else? We don’t know exactly, because much of it is kept under lock and key. Kyle McDonald wants to understand how new technologies affect or influence us. He uploads video recordings of public spaces onto the internet, revealing what is normally only seen by others. Anyone can comment on what they see online: encounters, arguments, rain, sun. People become objects of entertainment, sometimes amusement. McDonald thus makes visible how this ubiquitous media armament is rapidly relegating ethical questions—why who is allowed to see what and how—to the background.
Of People in Cities
The moving images show Bogotá and St. Petersburg, Rabat and Seoul, Naples and Tokyo, Doha and Shanghai, Kyoto and Venice. We are immersed in scenes of the everyday. There is fishing, cleaning, dancing, and laughing. What we see here is city. But it is not that city that shuffles from one mega project to another to claim its own in international competition. Rather, the spaces in this film speak of use. They show us that cities are, above and beyond, lived spaces that come alive only through us and our activities. We do not find the sameness of global cities here. Instead: plurality, heterogeneity, and again and again, site-specific being, making, and doing.
Intimate Inner Lives
Both works, Fenster (Window) and Teppich (Carpet), by Andreas Koch are frozen. They depict traces in a city’s existence, in the life of one or more people. Supposedly familiar things, the interface between inside and outside, are strangely distorted by this enlargement. Even the uncanny view of an apartment from above, which could not possibly be photographed in this way, changes the supposed familiarity of the interiors. It turns the private into the public without the occupants’ knowledge. As spectators, we take an observing, a distancing position; strangely foreign, soundless, passive, and entirely without participation. It is not long before this voyeuristic view of the lives of others becomes unpleasant. Quick, let’s get out of here and into the city!