Shadow City #023 © Pedro Gadanho
You are a production engineer. Dislocated in this vivid hallucination of a city, you have to go back home every three months or you think you’ll go crazy. Your workplace is new and yet it doesn’t smell new. Your company pays a huge rent and yet everything looks cheap. It’s like the food, pricey yet pitiable. From the 25th floor, at least, the city looks vaguely exciting. It’s worse when you have to come out of the shiny black glass building. If you’re in the company car, with your shiny black bulletproof glass and your heart-stopping air conditioning, it is alright. People just look like an army of fumigated ghosts that sometimes come too close for comfort. If you leave on your own, however, it feels bleaker. As soon as you step off the last Chinese marble step, your boots land in a malaria-infected puddle. You make your way to the store through the puddles, the dusty dirt, the rubbish, and the people. You think they look amazingly cheerful and busy. Sometimes you also feel an invisible cold stare down your spine. But you hold on. This is the future. And it’s just another two years to go.
This is one piece of a 5-part cautionary tale I’ve just delivered for the Belgian magazine DAMn. And DAMn being one of the best contemporary culture magazines around Europe, I’m quite excited about contributing to it.
Part of the excitement comes, however, from the opportunity to stand back and dive into a fictional appropriation of lived experience. So, look for the rest of that story… soon in a magazine stand near you.
Strangely enough it is difficult for me to start writing out of the blue. However, once there is a challenge, any challenge, also the pleasure arises to devise stories in which previous incidents melt together with the narrative imagination and critical commentaries on our urban reality.
Indeed, writing comes out as an activity that is increasingly central to my personal modus operandi. Curating frequently converges into the importance of written pieces that remain past the fleeting event. Writing is also a core tool to present and develop ideas. However, personally, the act of writing is in itself a moment of blissful, private achievement.
For all the autonomy that any cultural creation seeks at some given moment – architecture included – writing has been for me the only moment in which ideas are produced in a sort of magnified independence from any externally imposed circumstances. And that freedom is insuperably tasty.