Everybody Need Good Neighbours

By Arnau Blanch Vilageliu

Many films start with an aerial view of the place where the story we are about to step into is set. This technique of closing in puts us plainly in a position of externality. We belong neither to the story being presented to us, nor to the place in which it unfolds. In our position as spectators, we are innocuous outsiders on other people’s soil. But what if, like explorers from another world, we were to land in a territory we do know? Like in some sort of endeavour at contact with otherness, whereby rather than meeting strangers it were us that decided to behave like outsiders, ignoring as much as possible all that was already familiar to us about the place. But perhaps such an endeavour is not necessary to claim that nothing is more alien to us that our own birthplace. Once we leave it, there is no going back. The place we are born in functions as a first encounter with reality, and a first frontier in a world where the most interesting things always seem to happen elsewhere. The price we pay for a life in constant transit is emotional exile. Returning to our places of origin like explorers of foreign territory we know only too well can be a way of reconciling ourselves with our past. To return to recognise – understanding recognition not an assertion or a repetition of certainties and banalities, but as the discovery of a place through the prism of estrangement. To return, not in the hope of finding the hospitality of memory to cushion our relationship with the past, but as a way of rediscovering our place of origin and making it our destination.

Vilobí d’Onyar is just another name on the map; one of those tiny places that nobody notices on the anything-but-ingenuous representation of the world of maps. Though you would be hard pressed to find any tourists in Vilobí d’Onyar, there is a whole communications network that allows the world in constant motion to function. There are places which, for the four corners of the globe to be connected, seem forced to exist disconnected from the very world they help to connect. Invisible consequences and outcomes of how the romanticism of travel has been replaced by the pragmatism of transit; and how structural functionality of widespread development obstructs the passageways of a given landscape. Faced with the immateriality of many concepts, there is nothing quite as corporeal as progress. Especially when it manifests through a hoard of architectural elements that prove how it is impossible to think of the world in terms of nature versus culture any more. Landscape is action – it is what has happened to the land, what is happening to it and what is still to happen. Landscape is also what we do with it; it is one possibility among others derived from the subjective experience of self.