The hole truth

Visual Sunday

CultureUrban change

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The city is one big construction site.

Overnight, familiar landmarks disappear; replaced by a hole in the ground, an open wound from where will emerge the shiny and the new.

Out of sight, behind iron palisades, I cannot witness the process; I do not assimilate the change.

This led me to create a pinhole camera that I used to take pictures of and through the fences that surround these sites.

Peeking through whatever openings I could find, I felt the pinhole camera reflected this voyeuristic gaze that was imposed on me, a kind of breaking and entering to appropriate this part of the city I had no access to.

Those who arrive at Thekla can see little of the city, beyond the plank fences, the sackcloth screens, the scaffoldings, the metal armatures, the wooden catwalks hanging from ropes or supported by sawhorses, the ladders, the trestles. 

If you ask: 

“Why is Thekla’s construction taking such a long time?” 

The inhabitants continue hoisting sacks, lowering leaded strings, moving long brushes up and down, as they answer 

“So that it’s destruction cannot begin.” 

And if asked whether they fear that, once the scaffoldings are removed, the city may begin to crumble and fall to pieces, they add hastily, in a whisper, “Not only the city.”

If, dissatisfied with the answers, someone puts his eye to a crack in a fence, he sees cranes pulling up other cranes, scaffoldings that embrace other scaffoldings, beams that prop up other beams. 

“What meaning does your construction have?” he asks. “What is the aim of a city under construction unless it is a city? Where is the plan you are following, the blueprint?”

“We will show it to you as soon as the working day is over; we cannot interrupt our work now,” they answer.

Work stops at sunset. Darkness falls over the building site. The sky is filled with stars. “There is the blueprint,” they say. 

Italo Calvino – Invisible Cities

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