The Secret Life of Cities


HD video, surround sound, dual channel projection, seven C-prints

The work The Secret Life of Cities places us directly into the middle of a reality defined by cinematographic projections of urban green on two opposite walls. The sound — neutral city noises, occasionally drowned out by a sonorous abstract overtone — enhances the visual experience. The urban environment feels omnipresent. The moving images, dominated by archetypal urban green, share a hidden perspective. In the foreground — almost tangible — leaves, branches, needles and blossoms from screens, in a hyperrealistic sharpness. The green functions like a screen, vegetation like a closed curtain.
Sometimes as soft as a veil and translucent in a sensual way, other times almost impenetrable, like an all-concealing camouflage cloth. The image immediately evokes associations with the Dutch word ‘schaamgroen’ (ashamed green a technical term from the 1970s, which urbanists and planners used to describe the greenery that served, in particular, to conceal undesirable land- scape developments. Think of planted shielding s around industrial sites or the low shrubs enclosing dog parks. Despite its tidy dullness, this semi- t. public greenery, thanks to its concealing ability, proved to form a huge attraction for urban deviants (think of junkies, loitering youth, flashers, s, and tramps), quickly lending a touch of menace to the seemingly innocuous term. [Excerpt of exhibition reader text Ernst van de Hoeven]