The Time Agent. S. ROMANO
Author: Stefano Romano
Affiliation: POLIS University
In this paper, we would try to investigate how art can act as a temporal agent and as a turning point to reflect on the past, present and future of cities. The city of Gjirokastra in Albania has been explored as case study, during a one-week workshop in December 2019.
Time might seem a simple concept, to a superficial reflection, perhaps because we all experience it in our life, considering that we develop our very existence within it, over time. The timeline that inexorably seems to flow in only one direction (from the beginning towards the end, from the present that becomes past, towards the future), is however the result of a superficial response to that complex structure which we call, for convenience, with a single name: Time.
Time is a complex structure, first because it is not unique. Einstein understood it and developed this concept in his Theory of Relativity. The theory evolves from the measurement of different Times in different spaces and the influence that these proper times have in relationship with things. Secondly, because there is still no law in physics that demonstrates a difference in structure between past, present and future, that is, no law can possibly prevent time from being cyclic rather than linear.
For example, if we try to imagine a cyclical Time, we can link it to the idea not only of the seasons on our planet in its movement around the Sun, but also to the idea of life and death of living beings and why not, of cities in their physical structure. Analyzing the temporal cycle of architecture and public spaces.
The fact that cities live by cycles is not a new thing, several authors in different fields have dealt with it, analyzing the intrinsic causes of the birth, life and death of some of them. In this case, in the case of Gjirokastra, we will analyze how in the old city, which is currently experiencing a phase of depopulation, art outside institutional spaces can become a temporal agent of analysis of the past, reflection on the present and lure for the future. Not simply as a tourist attraction, on the contrary as a subject capable of revealing a mechanism, located in the depths of a temporal, social and economic cycle.
Art outside institutional spaces, that is, located in the urban spaces of the city is an extraneous element that act as a vector in the context, to convey reflections, emotions, physical and social changes. The old town of Gjirokastra has in its urban fabric many abandoned or decaying buildings. These buildings can become integral parts of the structures of as many works of art that use architecture and nature. In this case, art becomes narration over time, through site-specific installation of artworks that can affect reality through reflection and interaction with people and spaces.
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