[-empyre-] time and space and movement

Eduardo Navas eduardo at navasse.net
Mon Mar 19 11:35:19 EST 2012

Hi Ana,

Reading your description of Visby reminded me of my visit and stay in the
island of Gotland a couple of years ago, when I also had the pleasure to
meet you in person.  It was a wonderful experience‹thanks for making that
possible with the Swedish Traveling Exhibitions.

I also found myself doing the same thing you describe on Sundays, when I was
there.  For me Visby did not feel like a city, but more like a small town.
Yet, everything needed and expected of big cities was to be found in the
local stores.  Visby is great in that the architecture is untouched but the
shops, themselves, are super modern. To this day I still remember having
some of the best coffees in the local shops.

Regarding Montevideo, I visited it a few years earlier, and was hosted by
Brian Mackern.  It felt like a different type of city than any other I had
visited at the time, and have visited since then.  The architecture is
absolutely beautiful, yet at the same time, during my visit, many buildings
appeared abandoned, and many streets were not well kept.   Very windy during
my time there‹just like Visby!

In any case, I was compelled to respond to your post, not so much because I
am acquainted with the cities you describe, but because your post made me
realize how the concept of the city, when we think about it, is quite
elusive and difficult to define and especially describe formally in
³universal² terms if we really tried to move beyond the usual descriptions
we are used to sharing.  As I read other posts after yours, I realized that
while, as someone pointed out, when one may think of a city, it is Paris may
come up, (in my mind is also New York), such generic definition is
understood in relation to the city(ies) one lives or has lived in.  The
concept of the skin of the city could be extended in this case to the
diversity within the city as a concept beyond a singular urban center.  I
think of this especially since regentrification has become a way to revise
the ³skins² of very different cities in different parts.  I noticed the act
of reinvention (one could argue a more distanced form of regentrification)
in both Visby and Montevideo, and in this sense I think that cities are
amazing social organisms that reflect the diversity and complexity of the
people who dwell in them.


On 3/13/12 2:46 AM, "Ana Valdés" <agora158 at gmail.com> wrote:

> I am an urban dweller, it means I only enjoy the cities, any city, the feeling
> of many people moving around busy with their own lives.
> Last year I worked at the Swedish National Direction of Travelling
> Exhibitions, an institution with 40 employees and a beautiful new building in
> the city of Visby, in the island of Gotland, west from Stockholm.
> Gotland is the largest island in the Balticum Sea, inhabitated by around 60000
> people. In the city of Visby lives around 10000 the whole year, in Summer
> about one million people comes to the island to enjoy the sea, the sun and the
> views.
> Visby is one of Europes most well conserved medieval city, with the walls
> intact. The walls were erected in the 13th century to separate the wealthy
> German merchants from the Swedish peasants who lived outside the walls and
> paid huge taxes to come into the city.
> Visby was part of the Hanseatic League and was (and still is) a beautiful city
> with several impressive churches and cathedrals.
> At Sundays, last Winter, I could see myself being the only person walking
> around the center of the town. I could walk home following my own traces and
> stepping up the marks left by my shoes.
> For me Visby was never a city, too empty, too beautiful, too clean. I need a
> dirtier and more soddy city. Montevideo, the city I moved to, fits in the
> latest classification.
> Ana

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