Dear Z.P. is a letter I addressed to Zuidplein in Rotterdam, a shopping center built by arch. Hermanus Dirk Bakker in late 60's and it covers the southern metro and bus modal point.
Along with 3 analogue photos taken in the same area, the letter was published in a one-time local newspaper created as part of a group workshop led by Flaneur within the Architecture festival ZigZag City organized by OMI.
Text & Photos
So far, our interactions were limited to what seemed to be a set of random encounters, although we both know they were kind of planned. But that’s off topic, even if for me, they defined the way we have communicated and the way I have perceived you so far.
Until now I was not courageous enough to spontaneously approach you. But I am doing that now, through this letter, because I am curious. So curious about you, the real you...
Since the moment we met I craved to get to know you better.
Maybe I only wanted that because although you seemed messy, confused and dark, I felt you were just hiding yourself. Never understood the reason why, so I guess that is what intrigued me and pushed me to want to interact more. It was perhaps your well-disguised introversion, your ‘troubleness’ that has attracted me.
Sometimes I imagined how revealing it might be to just meet you after midnight, to catch you off guard, to observe you in your most vulnerable moments, to get closer to you when you are resting, when you are alone, when you are not preoccupied performing for others, when you just are.
I never dared.
Yet, I have tried several times to approach you differently.
Once I bumped into you by taking a different route.
As I was walking, shy and a bit skeptical, I was constrained to physically get closer to you, but I persevered, and got to reach you from a different angle than before.
I couldn’t help noticing all the marks that time has left behind.
Thus, I got to know you more intimately and I started collecting what later proved to be incomplete puzzle pieces.
At first, I thought everybody knew that route filled with light and clear signs. Quickly after, I found myself alone, a bit lost in the shade, yet overwhelmed with the pleasure of realizing that you are more than just the overly sociable entity you pose as.
I then quickly understood where you are coming from and how you are, like everyone else, just the result of a patchwork. You are the result of your own fragmented experiences put together for the sole purpose of serving others.
Given your heavy presence I felt every time I got close to you, I started questioning myself. Who are you, really? What is your identity?
I have noticed how some people label and sometimes mislabel you in so many ways: busy, contradicting, alienating, vivid, uncanny, dirty, paradoxical, open and close, unavoidable, old. I can only wonder which combination of these ingredients actually defines you? What makes you special and what made me keep on trying to figure that out?
I am not sure if I can answer these questions now.
Today I was a stalker. I was sneaky and disguised myself in order to get closer to your heart. Despite my desire to actively engage and experience you, I ended up merely observing.
From my passive standpoint, the image you offered to all the people you warmly managed to welcome seemed to be the result of a premeditated dissimulation.
From what I saw, the illusion of your openness was in fact heavily regulated by different sets of rules. Then it all made sense, because your outside seems to also be defined by other kinds of limits…but limits nonetheless.
And tomorrow I will silently pass by, just to observe your behavior. And I wonder. Will I be surprised to find dystopian corners pretending to define your borders that at the same time open towards very different environments? Will I discover that what defines you the best are these unclear borders that at times confine you, and at other times let you breath allowing others to fantasize of different places or sometimes even travel in time?
So, back to my questions. Who are you and what is it that truly defines you?
Is it the fragmentation? Is it the variety of interactions you generate? Is it the contrasting dual life you are perpetuating- one personality by day, another by night? Is it your rigid sense of behaving disguised under complete randomness and pseudo freedom? Or is it the self-compliance of just being there for others and ultimately not really caring?
In any case, this collection of questions is just adding to the pieces of puzzle that supposedly create a whole image of you, yet is never complete.
So could this be you?
A constantly changing incomplete puzzle?
© 2022 by m·k