Monday, 18 February 2008

Dear Rachel,

Here is an image from the show at Chats Palace, showing our postcards in the context of all the leaflets and postcards normally on display.

Also I thought you might be interested in some images I took while in Strasbourg. We took the bus accross the boarder to Germany. Its about a 20 min journey to Kehl. The countries are separated by the Rhine at this point. But Strasbourg has been part of Germany historically and the Issenheim Alterpiece which we went to see in Colmar was painted by Grunewald when Colmar was in Germany. (really worth seeing)

Anyway being british its intriguing to see what happens at a boarder when the countries are part of a huge land mass. It was very banal, no sense of occation or anything really to mark it. Derilict police stations on each side. Which must be a good thing. And people taking sunday stroles on either side of the bank.

I think there is a link with our ideas about cities and teritory and where places begin and end or fade out. We have been thinking of it in terms of areas within the urban environment but maps and boarders can be controvertial and political. (Kosovo was created yesterday but not everyone agrees) As i think they are too on a smaller scale in cities (living somewhere implys social status, opportuties or lack of etc), sometimes areas are teritories but with no obvious boundary. I was interested in Isolarion when James Attlee talks about the plans to give Cowley road some demaration and how against it he was.

He quotes from Walter Benjamin p88"Nowhere except perhaps in dreams, can the phenomenon of the boundary be experienced in a more originary way than in cities. To know them means to understand those lines that, running alongside railraod crossings and accross privately owned lots, within the park and accross the riverbank, function as limits...A new precinct begins like a step into the void - as though one had unexpectedly cleared a low flight of steps."

I was also thinking about Iain Sinclair's orbital, walking the m25 a kind of boundary for london and all the banal out of town developments that he finds there.


Friday, 15 February 2008

These postcards edited to include the suburbs of Oxford comments on the relationship tourists and outsiders have with famous cities like Oxford and Paris – and the way these cities present themselves to visitors.

Hi Suzy,
It was good to catch up with you last night at Besame Mucho. It was such a fun event, with some interesting and quirky performances. I particularly enjoyed Holly Pester’s performance (about “steam coming off men”)!

I’ve uploaded pictures from my walk up the Cowley Road from The Plain to the ring road (see I just have one more leg of the journey to do – from the ring road to Blackbird Leys. The first part of the walk is an overload of visual information. There are so many eccentric shops and signs, and numerous interesting businesses that reflect the multi-cultural area. The richness and colour of this part of the road make the remaining section from Magdalen Road to Temple Cowley seem very bland. There are fewer pedestrians here and the houses are tatty and faded. Every now and then there is a glimpse of open green space where there are allotments or common land.

I’ve been dipping into a book by Lucy Lippard called ‘The lure of the local’. She makes some astute observations about city dwellers…
“The urban ego is in fact parochial; New Yorkers (like Parisians or Bostonians) are among the most provincial people in the world. They are often as bound to their own neighborhoods and as ignorant of the rest of the city (aside from midtown) as any small towner. A city is a center plus the sum of its neighbourhoods, a collage created by juxtaposing apples and oranges…”.
We’re so unadventurous – but I wonder why this is? And why would I feel quite comfortable walking in some areas of Oxford, whereas in others I feel like a trespasser?

It was great to see the postcards you had made for Besame Mucho – and to see both sets of cards together. I am putting up a couple of pics I took of mine, and will photograph yours as well once they’ve been returned.