[-empyre-] The city as a skin -- Sparta and the helots / time and space and movement

Leandro Delgado oxibitue at gmail.com
Thu Mar 22 05:23:47 EST 2012

I find a strong connection between tango and urban resilience since tango
is born as a cultural expression of urban resistance in the sense that the
genre came out from the outskirts and slums of Buenos Aires and Montevideo
at the beginning of 20th century. Most of the early tango musicians and
poets were anarchists. Since then the “arrabal” is the most problematic
concept for social researchers and urban planners, as well as inspiring for
artists, poets and musicians.

About Montevideo and its beautiful architecture and abandoned buildings
mentioned by Eduardo, I can say that Montevideo is a clear example of
non-sustainable-beautiful-architecture mainly because urban planners and
architects were devoted to copy neoclassical French and modernist Catalan
models with no connection with local sustainable economies or environmental

On Mon, Mar 19, 2012 at 10:41 AM, Johannes Birringer <
Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk> wrote:

> dear all
> the week begins with wind-swept nostalgia and faint tango rhythms (of lost
> times), and I wonder how you want to reconnect your dreams of "cities" to
> the theme of "urban resilience - trying to understand the new ways and
> methods of activism and resilience performed in the urban environment"
> (March 03 outline)? especially if, as Eduardo I believe intimates (below),
> your re-collections   - and i would argue Benjamin's flaneur does precisely
> not "appropriate all cities and flavors of all cities of the world" – are
> inevitably personal and subjective, marked by your biographical histories.
> Revising "skins" - to quote Eduardo and, in extension, the posts by Sabela
> ("city of skin") `- i gathered from some of the fascinating political posts
> of the past days, is a very difficult proposal, and I hope more discussion
> is forthcoming on the issue of whether urban activation, and the "agonistic
> model" (Aristide) is a political process (following Ricardo Dominguez's
> very complex essay from last week) or a theory or a matter that can be left
> to architects /urban planners and developers  (am i understanding Aristide
> correctly here, in terms of his claims for architectural practice?).....?
>  What is "the point of view of architecture" in our debate here, regarding
> actions and what some of you refer to as "performative city"?  Is Aristide
> suggesting an archaeo-tectural practice or political ethnography working
> with communities that act in the city, and how would that come about?
> >>
> The public space is unimportant or "occupy-able". It is important from a
> point of view of architecture to make an account of this aspect of the
> communities that act in the cities. They can exist if they occupy a space.
> A different relation to what was meant as public space is recorded here. An
> occupied zone is hospitable if we accept its rules. But it installs again a
> different attitude than the civic: a civilian is not the performing subject
> of the occupation. New rules apply to the occupied territories in a way
> that we cannot say if we are or not in the realm of a typical western
> society. Furthermore from this occupation practices we may learn how a
> separative concept will perform new divisions of the old society.
> (Aristide)>>>
> I also think we have not responded to Alicia's provocation to think
> through "peripheral agendas" and garner a different way to listen and look:
>  "For the people from the South the thing we expect from the intellectuals
> from the North implicates a strong twist, deconstruct their global agenda
> and look again" (Alicia).
> Thus, I wish to listen more to Sabela's fascinating critique of the
> "overclothing" or overtattooing of the skins of urban individuals:
> she wrote:
> "La fugacidad de la apariencia, a su vez,  el desvanecimiento de la fuerza
> de lo espectacular, es contínuo; el situarse con naturalidad ante un vacío
> recurrente que desafía  la subjetividad, impone nuevos comportamientos,
> estrategias de sobrevivencia y mantenimiento de la esperanza"
> -- did Sabela not challenge precisely, ask to get rid of precisely,  the
> kind of nostalgia you evoke in your responses, Ana?
> respectfully
> Johannes Birringer
> Ana schreibt
> >>
> My city is Benjamins flaneur appropiating all cities and all flavours and
> all smells of all the cities of the world.
> My city is Metropolis and Gotham City and Camelot and Ulan Batar and Petra
> and Troy and Izmir and Samarkand and all the cities Calvino wrote in
> Invisible Cities, my favorite book :)
> Eduardo schreibt:
> >>
> 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
> “universal” 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 “skins” 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.
> >>
> _______________________________________________
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> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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