In a City, Parts Don't Make a Whole
Updated: Mar 23, 2022
Allied Studio 2021-22
What is a city? When does a city happen? What is urbanity? How do we rethink the idea of conceptualizing a city other than plans and maps? The course started with these questions where we tried to find answers by reading short stories, poems, watching movies and by discussing everyday events. I really enjoyed reading the short stories by Murakami, Marcel Proust and Sadat Hassan Manto, Paris spleen by Charles Baudelaire, Mic etc. and movies Jaane bhi do yaaro, Khwada, Kaaka Muttai, Still life by Jia Zhangke, Rashomon by Kurosawa, Hiroshima My love, My American Uncle by Alain Resnais. The movies were mostly based on the issues of caste, gender, politics, social behavior, mindsets, war etc. Some of these movies were difficult to understand at first glance but were quite interesting in the way they depicted the atmospheres and relationships built in a society. I learnt how and what to watch in movies. Our interactions with different things in everyday lives are linked with ideas of time, neighborhood, globalization, development, environment etc. I enjoyed how the movies and the excerpts manage to portray these routines and everyday interactions in interesting storytelling ways.
A city is made up of energetic selves. These energetic selves are the people who drive the city with their desires, dreams, aspirations, kicks etc. We were asked to observe and find these kinds of energetic selves in our surroundings. We also researched about how our surroundings have developed over time, any major events which shaped our localities, and how these things altogether have affected our relationship with the society. All these things were
developed in a semi fictional narrative which allowed me to understand the complex and intertwined nature of a city and emerging urban conditions. The story writing format helped me to express the spatiality of the city and neighborhood in words. My narrative revolved around emerging enterprise in a city and how the identified energetic selves from my locality interestingly collide with each other. The collision and overlaps of energetic selves gives rise to friendships and compassion. The idea of friendship has its own nuances in an urban setting. This layer of friendship is what holds people together and makes a city.
The idea of energetic selves changed the way I began to observe people and my surroundings. This course has definitely added a new lens to perceive a city. The entire literature which we discussed during the course helped me to connect the dots between city, society and relationships. City doesn’t happen with infrastructure, “but with people, their energies, madness, desires, emotions etc.” This course has instilled the idea and nature of the city in conceptual and cultural realms which I would gradually like to study and understand further.