City, how and what

(according to me )

artist: Sara Serratos

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I am of the idea that getting to know a city depends on the medium you use. For example, if you use a car, you have the opportunity to look at a more complete and panoramic view, in which you get to know the streets and where they take you, the houses, the buildings, the infrastructure, the signage, the sky; you get to see everything in a car in the same wavelength.

 

You get a bit of everything because the speed and fluidity of the car influence the view. When you get to know the city by public transport (depending on which one, but I’ll talk about the bus), you get to know its elements and how it is formed, but with a higher point of view than with the car.

 

The height allows you to see the city from another perspective, now you can see things from the top down; people, parks, trees, cars, maybe even houses depending on how tall the bus is. You can understand a bit more of the city through having contact with the people and daily life itself.

 

Even if you don’t want to, there will come a time when, if you get to know a city through its public transport, you will have closer contact with the citizens with whom you share that space than with people you have known for a lifetime, and that is also a way to have contact with the cities. 

My favorite way of getting to know a city is definitely on foot, walking around. It is a fact that I like to walk, and it is also a fact that this text will be inclined towards this trend of being related to cities, but I think that by walking around a city you can have a different facet of it, you get to know it better because your body is engaged in the activity. Now, a more complete map is created, not because the entire city is seen, but because each corner can be known in detail. 

To give an example, I'll talk about my arrival in Mexico City, because I am from provincia and, even if it is something that you have already read before. I repeat, the things experienced in a “town” are very different from the ones in a city, and even if you relive an experience, they are still a shock.

I went to the city because I was going to get my degree and, although I did not live within the city, I sometimes went, like a rookie, to the great metropolis.

 

Every time I went, it was by car, whether I was going to the south to visit family, downtown for some sightseeing or to La Roma / Condesa to get plastered, they were nothing than a car ride that in Guanajuato would be equivalent to going from one city to another, which impressed me.

 I had no clue what was happening, the way we were going, or if it was dangerous or not, if the guy would get me to my destination or not, if I was going north, south, east or west in these car rides.

I only knew the info the Uber app provided me. At that time, for me, the CDMX was similar to Sara Serratos’ series “Madriguera de Cemento”. Similar to a labyrinth that does not make sense, but that is completely normal to the people accustomed to it. 

She also has a photograph collection titled “Casa-barco”, Houseboat if you will, where you can see several homes that are floating, and above all, I was able to connect with her description of the project: “ the unique way of life of societies, the everyday spaces that for those who inhabit them they could become monotonous but for those who visit them, they are unimaginable”.

This is a very precise description of how I felt about Mexico City at that time, and also of how I consider it to be the first encounter with unknown cities in general, especially when it's through a car.

 

It can even be boring for people for whom this is part of their day-to-day life, it is no longer something new. For those who don’t have this in their every day, it is not just a different city, but a completely new world. 

Later, little by little and, after realizing the need (not only economic, but it was quite a relevant factor) to arrive, navigate and tour the city by other means than a ride of at least $120, it was when I started to KNOW Mexico City. 

One gets to know its streets, learns how to walk them, when to walk them, and even with whom to walk them. Its people are known because it is inevitable to have interactions with them and because as one goes into place, one begins to take affection to the people who make it up, even without having had communication with them.

 

And through them, one also understands the city, until the moment in which one begins to be part of it, and one becomes the person with whom the “new” begin to have approaches to the city.

Lately we, in MÜDA, have been consuming a lot of content about cities and how different medius approach them differently, and that has led me to the conclusion that cities are nothing more than an invention of people’s imagination, which many times translates into infrastructure and the creation of history, population, identity, and everything related to a nation-state.

 

Many times, these aspects remain on a personal level that every single one of us can imagine. Like in the film Nomadland, in which the protagonist and her concept of “city” come out of the socially constructed framework. For them, it is not a tangible thing, nor a place, but rather an intangible place that she has been building over time. Her city is constantly resignifying itself based on the fact that she lives a nomadic life. 

In reality, the way we relate to it matters little, for everyone, there is that “city” that we could defend ad nauseam, every one of us will always protect our “micro-ambiente en expansión // expanding micro-environment” (Sara Serratos, 2016).

Translated by: Sofía Figueras

By: Isabel de Alba