The Name of the City in Vain

Book On difference #3. Raumpolitiken / Politics of Space. On the Expropriation and Re-appropriation of Social, Political, and Cultural Spaces of Action. Ed.: Iris Dressler, Hans D. Christ, at Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart, 2007.

‘Valencia’s traditional link with the sea will be strengthened by the water sports event par excellence: the America’s Cup. Both the city and its inhabitants are fully behind this world event.’ On www.americascup.com

On a billboard advertising the forthcoming 32nd America’s Cup, which will be held in Valencia in 2007, a photograph shows a perspective of the organizers’ mirror-clad pavilion. Reflected in the pristine surface of one of its two visible faces is a port building with Art Nouveau elements, and printed over this is the phrase: ‘Immerse yourself in our history’. The deliberately ambivalent composition conflates the novelty of the coming sports event —closely associated with the latest technology, not for nothing is it known as ‘the Formula 1 of sailing’— with the reflected image of the local architectural tradition, here symbolized by one of the old quayside warehouses. However, the history in which we are invited to immerse ourselves by going there has nothing to do with Valencia, unless this is understood in terms of its increasing readiness to make itself a prime contender for ceasing to have a history of its own. The message refers, in fact, to the history of the sailing event itself, a gesture toward the thirty-one previous competitions over the course of more than 125 years.

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