Flowing Cities by

by 6. 3. 2023

The second Italian edition of Magic Carpets was presented on purely artistic grounds: in Rome, at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma. The project titled Flowing Cities was to refer to two architecturally spectacular Roman peripheries – Nuovo Corviale and Laurentino 38. The invited artists, Yves Mettler (CH) and Patricia Geraldes (PT) worked with the local communities living in these utopian centres from the 1970s. The exhibition itself brought three layers of reflection and questions. Among the first were the featured artists. More or less, they worked with traditional media they were close to. Yves Mettler presented group output from a comics workshop with children which, seen together, drew a picture of the relationships in Laurentino 38 and the children’s perception of these. More than that, he adapted amazingly fast to the new environment, getting to know every corner, every piece of street art and all the colours of chipped concrete.

Patricia Geraldes’ works were different in atmosphere. Although they were, in a way, parallel to her colleague’s work executed in another environment, Patricia focused on the ephemerality of a site as opulent as Nuovo Corviale. She wrote the people’s stories with them, mapping the transformations of this spectacular idea over time.

Another layer was the artistic products themselves and their presentation. As I outlined above, most works were in the form of a paper comics or a diary entry, often in documentary form. Together with these workshop products, there were two video projections installed in front of the Academy. Unfortunately, this installation was entirely inadequate, particularly in the context of contemporary presentations of media art. Having two videos screened one above the other was not the best solution.

The third layer was somewhat intimate and may have remained hidden for many spectators. But at this moment, it is the most important. It rests in the creation of trust in interpersonal relationships, shifting the project further, beyond the borders of its visible outputs. Time plays a part here too: it is often more important to spend some time with someone; to give them one’s time. And I think the artists managed that wonderfully. This reflects the strength of the entire project – the aim was not simply to point out the issue of peripheries and how we think about them, but also to spend time together, consciously and valuably. At this moment, the only thing that comes to mind is whether this social activity and its generosity in enriching relationships is not more important than the necessary onetime outputs? This question, however, rests with the entire Magic Carpets project. Is it truly necessary to present the results in a documentary form without the context of location, all this implicitly placed above the form that creates worlds – the human element?

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Tereza Záchová