Point de départ
When I was a very young man, I used to stroll for hours and days aimlessly through cities – Paris, Amsterdam, New York, Bangkok, San Francisco, Cairo, Rome, Beijing. More often than not,I would end up in areas that no visitor was supposed to enter: because they werde dirty, or dangerous, or just plain boring. In my memory, those places are as important as the landmark buildings, the posh neigbourhoods, the crowded downtown hotspots and the touristy sightseeing musts.
Even the most boring neigbourghoods are part of the fabric and the taste of a city, and I remember having some of the most inspiring moments in some of the most desperate neighbourhoods.
Cities were different then. Public transport was unreliable, inner cities belonged to immigrants and drop-outs, while the middle class preferred life in suburbia and global brands would dwell in the malls next to the highways.
Since then, most western cities have undergone tremendous changes. Inner cities have been turned into giant shopping malls in historic camouflage, suburbia has flooded back into empty warehouses, and the less fortunate members of modern society have somehow – vanished.
The structural and architectural revitalisation of the postindustrial city is accompanied by the event that has transformed the city into a permanent stage. Theatre festivals, city marathons, bicycle days, wine fests, snowboard contests, street art happenings, nuits blanches, christmas markets and open-air summer festivals are abundant and attract millions of visitors. What once was limited to happen on the main square has taken over the whole city.
In praise of the niche
“Les jardins des mots perdus”, the title of my proposal, is a celebration of the niche as an imporant and defining part of the city landscape. Niches can be understood as places of transition between landmark areas; places that have not (yet) been touched by the process of gentrification; little pockets that resist the process of revitalisation, but often have a life of their own in an architectural, social or urban sense.
“Les jardins des mots perdus” should be understood as a critical comment on the remodelling of the city and on the concept of the city as an perpetual event. It is dedicated to the normal, not the exceptional, to what happened without being planned, to what we find without being looking for it.
Les jardins des mots perdus: motion poetry in alphabet city
For the duration of the Festival, a mobile laser projection unit will explore the city in the way described above: every night, laser projections will be happining in different areas of the city, open to the public to participate and enjoy. The projections will be limited to text; poems and songs celebrating the diversity of the city, words and phrases found in the streets of Bordeaux; poems of love by teenagers, whispered insults by beggars, witty comments by philosophers.