I love cities
I love Cities (2015 - ...) is a scenic series created by José Ramón Hernández that proposes a travel experience through a city or community based on the life stories of its immigrants. A subversive practice of affection and the gaze that ironizes the tourist relationship with the visible or the representative of the cities.
I love Cities is an act of excavation that brings other narratives, subjectivities, bodies and voices to the surface. Immigrant women, elderly women, workers in a former sugar mill, political refugees, domestic workers, former prisoners, community leaders, rural immigrants, the LGBTIQ community, religious practitioners, Latinas in New York, Haitians in Montreal, Chileans and Cubans in Berlin , immigrants from the eastern provinces of Cuba in Australia (1) and Havana.
This relationship between cities, migrations (particularly female) and the scene that the series explores places viewers before unlimited acts of rewriting space. The peripheral city, the economies and precarious bodies, the processes of integration and flight of these bodies, their architectures of desire, their scars as legends on the maps of each city. A rewriting of the overflow, of the hybridization, of the superposition and multiplication of many cities in the same city. And to this rewriting of the city / body that each of the life stories present in I love ... contributes, another is superimposed. That of a fictional and sensitive practice that repairs the real with acts of collective imagination agreed upon by the community of participating viewers or "citizens" that we are in each episode of the series. Rewritings that declare the old hotel of the Central sugar factory, today a building in ruins in the Australian community, the House of the People or that reconstruct the facade of an old building in Centro Habana, San Lázaro 55, for the few neighbors that still inhabit it. Women who have not been able or are reluctant to sell their houses due to the gentrification phenomenon of the neighborhood.
Of process. Strategies and tools
Each episode of the series has generated and generates its own work strategy and presentation format, which are based on a unique research / creation process. And it is in this way that each episode rewrites and affects the very conceptualization of the series. Creative workshops with immigrants, in-depth interviews, artistic residencies, drifts through cities or communities, interviews with specialists (historians, sociologists, architects), consultation of municipal historical archives or academic research on immigration in different cities, statistical data, listening and raising of physical spaces, coexistence ... have constituted the starting points and the various tools for the conformation of each episode and, at the same time, the doors of discovery of its protagonists. Always non-professional actors or life experts.
In the acts of rewriting and repairing the cities that I love cities generates, an axis connected with the theatricalities of the traditional popular cultures that these cities or communities preserve and of which their protagonists are bearers and carriers is also added. Its rhythms, objects, sounds, knowledge and rituals of communion complicate the devices of the series and its various formats, since it integrates them through procedures of reappropriation, reconstruction, deformation, variation or breaks.
The language operations of I love cities are characterized by instability in time (with episodes that last an hour, a whole night or three days), in space (in a theater, in a rural community or in an urban housing building) and in the type of relationship that they propose to the spectators (participatory, contemplative, relational or ceremonial).
1 Australia is a rural community in the municipality of Jagüey Grande, belonging to the province of Matanzas, Cuba. Its main economic activity came from the Central Azucarero Australia, which gave the community its name.