I didn’t build a city. 1
1. I didn’t draw the roads. I didn’t paint any trees. I didn’t lay down pathways. Places for people to sit. Stare. Lust. Cry. I didn’t design their dreams. I didn’t set the horizon. I didn’t put in dogs, their snarls, needy panting, those hurled sticks, measures of obedience. I didn’t think about dog shit, and where Good People put dog shit in a Good City. I didn’t, but I could have. I didn’t allocate parking spaces, under- or overground. I didn’t install strip lighting to keep us safe. I didn’t stipulate disabled ramps at the right incline.
I didn’t propose a walkway in the sky, jurassic concrete hair rising from tropical heat. I didn’t control the weather. I didn’t position the sun so the shadows would make everything seem more real. I didn’t arrange stars in new astrological constellations. I didn’t, but if I wanted to, maybe I could. I didn’t put in skyscrapers. I didn’t select if they would be Miesian or New Asian. Intelligent or unfinished. I didn’t place wind turbines on top of their green roofs. I didn’t factor in urban farming, the needs of the victims of the end of the Industrial Revolution. I didn’t, but I should have. I didn’t suggest—with the use of an enormous scale-model made by Chinese hands—this is where people should live, this is how they will be happy, this is a community. I didn’t deploy troops, concrete barriers, emergency hoarding, chairs that can be used as missiles, children that can be used as collateral. That is how history will be avenged. I didn’t; no one asked me to. I didn’t raise the expectations of the Mayor or the President or the People in all their multitude and meanness and human magnificence. I didn’t print out all the plans and sections and photo realistic perspectives there to produce hope and profit and the profit of hope because I did not press the PRINT button. I wouldn’t, I should have? I didn’t submit my vision to the pale scrutiny of reality, the arbitration of Time: how cruel it can be, how fearsome and awesome it once was. Wasn’t it? I didn’t build the city. I kept it. For myself. I’ll keep it, until you arrive.
(footnote by Shumon Basar)
Curated by Åbäke and Nene Tsuboi
5 December 2012—24 February 2013
Above, bottom – Unbuilt Helsinki Highway by Wilbur Smith & Pentti Polvinen, 1968
Unbuilt Radio Antenna by Pertti Hokkanen & Martti Kukkonen, 1975
Unbuilt Alcohol Factory by P.E. Blomstedt, 1935
Unbuilt Bank of Finland by Hampus Dalström, 1867
The Unbuilt City
“A Motherboard”, an exhibition curated by Jonas Zakaitis for STAGES Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki
“UNBUILT HELSINKI” at the Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki
Photos by Niklas Kullström