A new collaborative project has just kicked off in a very unique Mediterranean captial; exploring the links between the built environment and the social characteristics of a city, using artistic representation, urban research and visual documentation.
The Maltese capital, (and UNESCO World Heritage City) of Valletta is the focus of TRANSIT - a collaboration between photographer David Pisani, anthropologist Elise Billiard, sound artist Mark Dingli and visual artist Julia Pallone.
Prompted by the new City Gate project by Italian architect Renzo Piano which is set to change the face of Valletta's entrance, the team aim to understand changes in people’s behaviour, movements, memory, and their interaction with a landmark site that is a point of meeting and transit for thousands of inhabitants, day trippers and tourists that enter and exit Valletta every day.
Concepts of identity, anatomy, change and continuity, authenticity and collective memory all form part of the TRANSIT project's approach.
The project, funded by the Malta Arts Fund, takes the City Gate - an edifice currently being demolished to make way for Piano's controversial large scale masterplan - as a key refence point, but the the gate project (due for completion in 2013) is just one phase of a constant metamorphosis that all living cities continuously go through.
"Case studies and references from other cities will be applied to City Gate, such as the re-built Hiroshima memorial that is a replica of the original monument but which invokes the same emotions as the original."
"The city is a whole, not the sum of many parts and will be seen as an anatomy made of several organs all functioning together to keep the city/body alive and well. TRANSIT explores the effect of changes in vital organs such as the city gate (symbolised as a mouth) over the rest of the city or body. This will also include “Layers” such as underground passages and elevated viewpoints as we attempt to trace a map of the ”pulse” or flow that governs the city’s lifeline."
TRANSIT will also look at the past and the present and how traces of the past can never be totally erased during and after change is present:
"During the works, demolition and construction we shall also look at how spaces that were once public will be temporarily cordoned off, how these will affect human behaviour around the site and further inside the city, how people react to new borders and how, eventually, spaces are reoccupied once the site is re-opened to public access.
The Royal Opera House will be in particular focus in this study as the building is traced through several phases of its life from a fully functional opera house to a bombed site, an unwilling war memorial to a hybrid theatre."
Take a look at their ongoing discoveries via the project blog below.