El proyecto

Travesía de vigo_ galería adhoc 15_09_06 / 04_11_06

Travesía de Vigo_ is an exhibition around a street in Vigo. In the evolution of this street we can see how the rural (traditional settlements) lives side by side with the urban (new ones). They have no relation and it is more evident in a building called “cricket hole” (grilleras) which are council flats. Modern Movement influences it. The building has a good reputation and it is considered a good example of architecture. But people who don’t live there think it is ugly. On the other hand, most of the owners have a positive feeling about their flats.

What this building makes clear is that the construction is inappropriate for the people in that area. This building is not a problem in itself, but in relation to the place where it is located. And to the people who is made for.

The two videos “Parking” and “Emma film stills” refer to this question. They use a form of representation different from the one we are used to. I try to relate the building from the point of view of the inhabitants, to see it as they see it everyday, as an object used not as an object to put in the architecture books.

Parking shows the building from outside. We can neither see the dimensions, nor the outside appearance but the traces of life, the clothes, the paint, the changes people make on the outside walls… and these “inappropriate changes” are cleaned off in the video as we pass by them. This effect is similar to the abstraction we do when we see something familiar. We forget the differences, it is just our space.

The representation of the inner space is made with the same logic. “Emma film stills” shows an apartment from the point of view of one owner, seen thorough her eyes. It only shows (through film stills) what she wants me to show. My decision isn’t based on a prohibition, but it is a way to interpret her point of view, to show the used space, not the objective one (as we know it isn’t possible to be objective anymore).
The inner space is open to outer space. The things she likes most are: first the possibility to see the sea from there, then the old people who meet in the backyard, the sun, as the flat has exterior windows in all rooms and so on. She doesn’t speak about the meters, the materials, and the luxury standards we are used to hearing about when we see a flat.

As an extension of this reflection, I’ve made a site-specific installation in the backyard of the flats block. This site is functioning as a hybrid space: parking, informal meeting point, park…
For me the problem is the relations among these elements, not the individual elements in themselves. That’s why I wanted to introduce a reflection around these different levels of use. By doing this, I try to show the relationship between this site and the centre of the city, making visible the inequality of the urban furniture.

I’ve made a wooden seat with the dimensions of flowerpots from the centre of the city. This seat has a photograph showing the flowers that were in the flowerpots that day, on the top. My intention was to transform a decorative object into a utilitarian one. But my seat, seen form a distance, is also a decorative object.

This seat serves as an object of interpretation as well, as it can be moved around by anybody who wants to use it as they want. The changes of place show how the people understand the site and they point out the problems or conflicts, some of them visible others invisible.

My role as author of the seats helped me to start an interaction with the local users. When I was setting them up, some of them came to ask me what it was. They understood the comparison with the centre of the city and felt identified with the object. As they got used to seeing me, they started to tell me about the problems they have in the area. As the process went on, some of them came to reclaim some improvements. In the meantime, some seats disappeared; the council sweeper took one of them away. I found three reasons: first the seat was in bad conditions because of the use, the second, it was near a rubbish container and third it was in a conflictive place (some users of the public space bother others making noise). I made a record of this process and tried to make it public, through the local press. As usual, the local press made a different interpretation of it. They only spoke about art and rubbish… but what I found important was that the local users felt uncomfortable with this article, as they thought that the press was banal. They were more critical than the journalist.