PARADOXES AND PROXIMITIES
by Jacqueline Aubenas
on the Fragmented Cities video
Four cities and four sequences, named, chaptered, situated in time, variously punctuated with quotations, all announced by a few sounds and images. And, a contrario, this rigid and repetitive structure opens the way to total liberty, with simple framing, like the frame of a house, a construction for a vagrant eye to explore what each has to offer in echo or subjective resonance and which captures what each has that is unique.
A film, like a notebook, a travel log, brief perceptions of what defines these cities, short visual phrases spliced together like a kaleidoscope, yet the “I” is never spoken but, on the contrary it, too, is diffracted, dispersed among other “I's”, multiple voice-overs which, in the first person, get the city to speak, telling their relationship to it, spokesperson for the film-maker, fragmentary dubs.
Apparently a ‘documentary’, a video that is founded on reality, on images of urban landscapes, houses, streets, rivers, façades, shop windows, monuments. And, surreptitiously, fiction appears, borne by fragments of stories, some developed, like in Paris, or just touched upon, slipped into the diversion of a phrase, like in Rome. Two Romanesque cities, whereas Berlin and Brussels are perceived in the brutality of their destruction, whether the historic destruction of the wall or the endless building sites that mutilate Brussels. But, there, too, reality gets turned into a story, extended and flipped through enigmatically, like a photo album, or recounted in the nostalgia for what has gone, memories of auto-fiction.
The paradoxes, as strong as the proximities. The first, urban transport, criss-crossing all four cities, cross-rules them, discovers them in the sky or on the ground. Metros, buses, trams, lead the eye into the deliberate banality of journeys, offering glimpses, fragments of reality, scanning over the obligatory set-pieces of the postcard view. In these fragments, the feeling of something ‘generic’, that doesn't need pre-arranged, expected images. They are there, as extras, off the map, but the feeling of knowing, of recognizing, is primarily borne by sounds, by noises. The iron clang of Brussels trams, the closing doors of Paris metros, the hubbub of Roman crowds. Or a bridge, the sky, the rubble that tells geography without the need for an Eiffel Tower or Atomium.