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The City

Elke Krasny

What the city has given me, is its longing. Longing is contagious. It seduces you to more and more, it transforms the city to this space of longing in which passion and fantasy meet, exploration and investigation, projection and imagination. The city is such a structure which today already is what it wasn't anymore yesterday. The city is such a structure that raises sympathy and promises anonymity. The city is such a structure that reinvents itself constantly while still remaining true to itself. The city is such a structure which gives you more to read than the eye can reach. In this cosmos of polyphony I see the city as space of articulation between dissonance and harmony, between discontinuity and traditions. Precisely there in between, the city is nearest and most vulnerable: in short most alive.
I see the city as a storehouse of times, vivid and yet still aloof, familiar and yet distant. Which traditions can be read in a city, is a question of attitudes and politics. I read Vienna as a city of those arriving. The possibility to arrive is interdependent on the mindset of those already arrived. Mindsets relate to politics and opinions, education and views. If the city could read itself differently in historical distances, then its proximities would relocate themselves.
In the course of the 19th Century the city became more. Also my ancestors immigrated at that time. Czech, Jewish, Hungarian, Moravian, Slovak, Polish, Ruthenian, Ukrainian, Gallien, Slavonian, Romanian, Croatian, Italian, Slovenian... How the city became more, can be felt today, as the city tries again to become more. How the city became more is something that the present is trying not to let feel, as the city tries to become more again. Hungarian, Polish, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Herzegovinian, Philippine, Turkish, Chilean, Colombian, Nigerian, Albanian, Venezuelan, US-American, German, Chechen, Iranian, Russian, Iraqi, Angolan, Mexican, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Latvian, Indian ... The histories of the city are located just there, in its heterogeneity, in its specificity of diversity.
If the city is close to you, then grief, angriness and melancholy rise as well as the dissatisfaction with the city not being as close to itself as it could be in its function as multiethnic metropolis of transnational lifestyle. The city can't live its longings, it is hindering itself to arrive in the Present.
It is noticeable that the city has not arrived yet in its Present, although today it is already such as it wasn't anymore yesterday. But just because of that, the city has remained a space of longings for me. Not the childish joy of recognizing the known accompanies the path of the adult, but the urge to discover the permanence of change, breathing also and precisely there, in all micro-tracks of the big motions of the world. Precisely therefore, I follow the city and read in its rhythm, what it has to say.
Again and again.

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