Is a city a neutral constructed mass of stones to which we give life or does a city live deep inside us without us realising it?

Have we created the city or does the city create us?

What kinds of hidden stories emerge through living in that city?

 

La Ville qui Respire is a radio-conducted walking performance in a public space on a city scale. This urban performance poetically examines how the city manipulates us, how the city cannot escape from the laws of nature and how the city behaves as a living body.

Some audio texts

 

 

Stray stories

 

Stray stories fly through the streets like dust.

Invisible.

Older, matured stories become sticky and hang on the walls,

walls of houses, city walls, garden walls

a thin membrane invisible.

You walk the streets.

With your hands you stroke the walls

your fingers curved

scratching.

At night, you take the yellow out from under your nails

a mixture of stories that you heat on a spoon until they liquefy.

Tilt the spoon in a glass of cold water

the yellow solidifies and floats to the surface.

Look at that shape

she tells something about you

about your past

your future.

Take the mold out of the glass, put it on your tongue.

She melts

the saliva becomes bitter

the pupils get bigger.

You're slowly slipping into a dream.

 

 

The square whispered

 

Words became visible in the stones

as if they were pressed from the bottom up

across the square

we were afraid

frightened of its contents.

"Perhaps the street knows no lies?"

"What if these words contain truths?"

"We could lose our faith."

"The economy would collapse."

"We wouldn't dare look each other in the eye anymore."

"We need black paint!", shouts someone who was quietly beginning to understand what words could mean.

"Or fresh pitch! We need to pickle the streets again!"

"Get the kids off the streets!"

"Make sure they can't see out."

"Whence come these words? Who wrote them? “

The conversations spread across the city. As quickly as words appeared in the paving stones.

"As long as the words don't form sentences, maybe it won't hurt," they fezzed.

"Maybe we can form sentences ourselves and paint in words?"

"We make our own stories!"

And we made up our own stories.

Stories that reassured us.

In no time, everyone was standing on the square with a paintbrush in their hand and a white paint bucket in the other.

Like madmen we painted the town full.

Verbs, articles, adjectives, proper names, ...

The next day all the words had disappeared in the stones.

All that remained were words in white paint.

Everyone looked out of the window, startled. The hands before the eyes of the children who could read.

Our words formed sentences.

Phrases that expressed our desires.

Sentences that described the most extreme fantasies.

Sentences that tried so hard to hide the truth, they became the truth themselves.

Paint buckets were emptied and filled with water.

We came up the street with scrub brushes.

We tried not to look at each other.

We were not trying to read what we had written.

 

 

Thoughts

 

Like you press your body into tender grass

you lay down on a peaked street with your arms open looking at the same clouds.

Are they the same thoughts that float by?

 

 

Water

 

It is said that a city is not livable without water.

In empty days we stand at the edge of the canal, musing

losing ourselves

in that transparent mass

a dive down

in mind

liquefied

we let go of our stories

our ideas

our emotions

our secrets.

Floating

weightless between dream and reality.

So we find ourselves hours later with our hands on our necks.

When our thoughts touch the surface of the water they light up in thousands, millions of lights.

Normally the water repels stories.

But a few can penetrate the surface and remain hidden in the darkest corners for years, sometimes centuries.

Then suddenly, for no reason, they rise up like bubbles.

Later, that water will be sucked up

filtered and transported through tubes

until it flows out of faucets in living rooms

for washing vegetables

make coffee

hot baths

vaporized with fragrant oils.

Chemicals such as chlorine are added

microbes cannot survive.

But the stories remain

they're trapped in the H2O molecule. That one atom of oxygen carries our matured hidden musings.

A magical unspeakable feeling settles in our stomachs when drinking such stories. It gives you a feeling that you understand something but you don't know exactly what.

Is that why water is one of the most important foods?