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andrea geyer

Interim. 2002. 80 page newspaper with photographs and text

In her recent book Elisabeth Grozs describes how cities have always represented and projected images and fantasies of their inhabitants whether individual, collective or political. In this sense, Grosz talks about the city as a body-prosthesis, or boundary that enframes, navigates, protects and houses, while at the same time taking its own forms and functions from the (imaginary) bodies it constitutes. Simultaneously, cities are loci that produce, regulate and structure those same bodies. This relation between the inhabitant and the city is not a simple one of mutual determination, nor a singular abstract diagram of interaction: it depends on the types of bodies (racial, ethnic, class, sexual) and the types of cities (economic, geographic, political), and it is immensely complicated through various relations of intrication, specification, interpolation and inscription that produce identities for both cities in their particularity, and populations in their heterogeneity. This relationship that is thoroughly saturated with behavioral, regulative, psychical, legal and communitarian components that can be mapped on the plane of the city's topography.

Interim is a project that relates the individual navigation in urban space directly to the navigation of cultural space. A female character enters an unknown urban space. Her movements are inspired by the main character in the 1969 film "Midnight Cowboy" in which a young man takes a Greyhound bus from his hometown in Texas to New York City to start a new life. But in the story of "Interim" the characters movements stay seemingly purposeless. They follow a woman in transit without raising any specific affiliations, driven by the environment rather than intention. This narrative of a change of place intersects with strangely formulated representations of American customs. These standardizations are taken out of contemporary handbooks for immigrants to the U.S. and students of English as a Second Language. Interim reflects on the logic and implications of the set of essential rules and customs supposedly practiced in the U.S.. Without reinscribing these rules, the project tries to confront the positions from which such rules and customs are articulated and the implication of their imperative while the production of culture is shifted to the fluid social interactions described.

The narrative text is paralleled with a group of photographs that visually navigate spaces as an environmental narrative, by representing visions of the authoritative gaze of the overview (like a map), partial views of urban space (like a stages) as well as several unpredictable characters who seem to embody the text's narrative, positioning the perspective of the main character into the general, into multiple personas, without fulfilling the actions described. The two narratives -- the visual and the written -- question in different ways the representational roles, and stereotyping of national culture. They posit the links between the personal, the cultural, the universal and the political that constitute an everyday experience within urban life.

The texts and the photographs are combined in a newspaper format. The mode of perception is meant to be individualized and intimate, where the viewer picks up a paper, like the daily news or a map, partially reads it in public and then disposes or carries it with her/him through the respective environment into the private sphere.

note:  The perception of what America represents and in what way an outsider identifies and navigates this newly defined space has changed in the months after September 2001. As a German artist living and working in New York the context of my experience on being a foreigner changes on an everyday-basis. This project reflects on the new awareness of the implications of cultural affiliation, not necessarily in an obvious manner, but in relation to the way the political has become a major visible signifying force within culture and in urban spaces, specifically in New York City.