Our Lacustrine Cities

Anne Imhof - Nancy Lupo - Liz Magor - Hayley Silverman
curated by Laura McLean-Ferris
July 16 - August 14, 2015

We built our city on a lake. Two cities stood before ours. The first is dead: now there are only the remains of wooden poles, clay bowls and wool blankets, drowned in the mud at the bottom of the water. The second city, which still stands, is a financial capital of glass and steel, situated around the water’s edge, built using a complex monetary system. Ours is the third city, and you are its new citizen.

Dryness is terrifying to us, so are floods. But these are the fates of the old places: we are sure you are aware that at the moment Shanghai’s liquidity is poor. So is California’s (but that’s something different). But your currency is strong, and we have all-inclusive plans for you. You are well behaved and above all, likeable. That’s your best currency, in our opinion.

You ask us if we really care. You seem to care, and that’s nice. Let us ask you this though – how important to you is it that you are ‘seen’ to care? We suspect it’s quite important. Nevertheless, we support this. You should care about yourself and others. You should get the best sleep you possibly can, and all the best nutrients, until we can refine this process. Rest will come in the end: our city will end one day, like the others.

In the meantime, we will feed you because we know your value, and you will learn our new currency system. We confess: if anything, what we would most like to do is pet you and give you milk! 1%, 2%, half-and-half, whatever you prefer. You should not be anxious, you will be very happy here.

lacustrine: of or relating to a lake

John Ashbery’s poem ‘These Lacustrine Cities’ (1966) was written with the city of Zürich in mind, and the remains of the ‘Lake Dwellers’ civilization, which dates from 4300 BC. Certain phrases of this text are borrowed from the original poem.

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