City creates city
Collective identities applied to urban landscape simulation
Our cities are now, more than ever, absorbed in a never-ending quest for “identity” and they usually take two premises as starting point (they rather glorify their historical legacy -they even make it up if it doesn’t existed- or they promote their contemporaneity) most of the time with the aim to construct a representative image of the city to be shown to the rest of the world, that means to increase their touristic appeal. The aim of our project “City creates city” is to link local identities with contradictory urban situations as a way to make these situations stand out and to denounce their influence on collective identities: “That what is happening to our cities is that what is happening to their citizens”
City creates city has operated in three Spanish locations (Cáceres, Madrid y Cienfuegos) both of them presenting three different urban situations: a historic district turned into a museum, a big city thirsty for prestige brands and a rural territory in danger of depopulation due to centralist politics.
Cáceres creates Cáceres. A city’s inhabitants are a city’s most valuable heritage.
Cáceres has a singular cultural heritage and a unique historic district which is never used by its citizens in an active way: they are bound to go to a big music concert or to a theatre play, because these are the kind of events which are supposed to take place in an urban setting that has renounced to use its space for any activity not suitable for touristic use, and whose buildings have been turned into museums and foundations.
Cáceres creates Cáceres turned 2016 images of 2016 Caceres’ citizens into a re-created artificial landscape, an urban intervention made up of images in different formats and scales: real scale figures populating the streets, a mega-citizen protecting the city and merchandising objects (badges, balloons, t-shirts …) that were given out during a participatory event of identity interchange that recovered the historic district of the city as a place were citizens can became actors and not only spectators.
Madrilenian of the year. A civic prestige brand applied to urban landscape re-generation
“During The White Night 2010 thousands of Madrilenians became Alberto Santander, Madrilenian of the
Year, an anonymous citizen that turned into the protagonist image of the city for one night through the
presence of thousands of doubles of himself, a masked crowd that changed Madrid’s urban landscape”.
We are surrounded by countless prestige brands that “work” at all scales (from the global Miss Universe
to the Popularity Queen in school). Our cities are constantly rivalling each other in order to achieve one of these outstanding “labels” (Universal Expositions, European Capitals of Culture …) and Madrid is always a favourite nominee (the city failed to organize 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games but it will probably be the venue for the World Cup Final Match in 2018 and it will surely be the next city to welcome the Tennis Master Series, among other less sportive candidatures).
The White Night (created in Paris in 2002 as a way to bring contemporary artistic creation closer to
its inhabitants) is one of these brands that invests the city of Madrid with prestige since 2006.
In this context of civic “labels”, the election of the Madrilenian of the Year will turn an anonymous
citizen (through popular voting on the Internet) into the representative identity of Madrid during a day
“signalled” as The White Night.
The quest for the “Madrilenian of the Year” is not an attempt to generate a summary of identities, a
partisan average, a standard size or a model (these are frequently the goals of most existing prestige
brands), but to make an anecdotic citizen become the representative image of the identity of the city
of Madrid. We are not looking for another fictitious image of superiority (whether it is an Olympic hand
or a Cultural full moon) to represent us, but a real person with a concrete identity: Alberto Santander
Can an anonymous Madrilenian citizen become the <protagonist> of The White Night, the representative
image of a city? … Yes! And it could have been you!
Plan E[xtintion]. Centralisation. Territory depopulation.
Plan E[xtintion] is a project that searches to link the collective identity of endangered Asturian settlements with that of their surviving inhabitants as a way to stand out depopulation processes, turning the image of these citizens into the representative image of this phenomenon.
A pilot project of Plan E[xtintion] took place in Cienfuegos [Asturias], (a rural settlement were only 10 people still live permanently) all of the inhabitants were reunited in an emblematic spot and a collective portrait of them was taken. This photography has become the symbolic entrance of the village (as it happens with the Osborne Bull or the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas entrance sign) by reusing an obsolete PlanE sign (The Spanish Economy and Employment Stimulus Plan) formerly used in Gijón, a city were many of Cienfuegos’ inhabitants moved to live in, as a way to claim for the importance of the people living in these settlements bounded to disappear.