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London (behind the walls)
Each 17 x 12 cm
Set of 5 digital photographs printed in postcard format
This photographic series was produced and printed in postcard format few months before the BREXIT referendum. It depicts some of London’s main sights seen from behind neighbouring walls. Sometimes the walls were huge, others very small. A matter of perspective in other words. The postcard format is also aimed at contrasting the connection it implies with the distance suggested by the actual pictures.
“Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” famously declared Samuel Johnson in conversation with his friend the Scottish poet James Boswell, on September 1777. Arguably, the derived motto ‘tired of London, tired of life’ has never lost spin. London is, today more then ever, the place where ‘things happen’. There is no comparable city in Europe for sure. With one of the biggest metropolitan areas of the world, London speaking hundreds of languages and accents, also represents a major epicentre of the world’s economy. A global city, inherently cosmopolitan, opened onto the world.
But what if, all of a sudden, such a cosmopolitan soul reveals to be a little less global than we think? What if a global city reveals to be such until a certain extent? And, how can a global city end up being less cosmopolitan indeed? The answer to the question requires a game of scales allowing us to think of a global city both as a social (and architectural) infrastructure bond to its physical, and geographical, location and as a more abstract, and intricate, horizon defining the global web of relations it comes to incorporate – and represent. In other words, a city like London is by definition projected onto global skylines but worldly exists in a certain place only.
What happens if to the whirling dynamics if the global city does not correspond to the surrounding context with a factual, physical and political, aperture? The question ceases to sound rhetorical when thinking of the virulent immigration-inducted hysteria that is spreading all around Europe as a reaction to the events in Africa and in the Middle East. In the last few months Britain voted to exit the European Union and planned the construction of a wall on the Calais’ border with France. Just like the U.K., Hungary, Austria and many other countries are demonstrating an outstanding resolution in the obnubilation of the very cultural and political legacies of the reconstruction processes that followed the horrors of the 20th centuries World Wars. We don’t really need much more to suspect there may be some who are definitely not welcome into the cosmopolitics of western economies. In the endless speeding towards total globalization, there is always someone (or something) to leave behind.
London (behind the walls) features views of the British capital printed in postcard format. Postcards are used to make far people feel closer. Their creases and scratches romantically embed the geographical distance covered to reach the hands of the addressee, to inform that everything went fine. People do not send postcards of destinations they never reached. Nevertheless, London (behind the walls) recounts of a journey to London and of its (f)actual impossibility. “All that life can afford” is not always affordable today. Even a global city is not open to access when you are – literally – on the wrong side of the fence. Cold and bitter tastes the distant proximity of what is hidden behind the walls.
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