urban representation / cartography / imagination
A couple of weeks ago I was in Venice at the association Isola432, when a map on the wall caught my attention.
Alessandro from the association, that owns an antique shop, told me the sheet flown away from a book of the late XIX C. while he was emptying a section of the library of the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti. He couldn’t find which one, so he decided to frame and hang it on the wall of the association.
Fascinated by the old map I started to look into details. The title of the map said “Nova Veneza”. The colored engraved map showed a portion of land not familiar to me, but displaying familiar names: Venezia, Treviso, Belluno, three cities located in my region.
The other inscriptions were in Portuguese, the names of the river and the other areas suggested a place in Brazil. Searching on Google (please pardon my ignorance!), I found that Nova Veneza is a real city in Santa Catarina, Southern Brazil (Archive.org, n.d.). This aspect made this map even more fascinating and I am glad that Alessandro gave it to me.
Venice is a unique city for its shape, it has always had many imitations and replicas so around the world throughout the centuries.
“It is so unrepeatable that they have made replicas of its canals, gondolas and gondoliers. They’ve even cloned its heart: the Doge’s Palace, the bell tower and Rialto.” (Moltedo (ed.), 2009). From the most famous Venetian in Las Vegas, to the recent floating city in Dubai; from venice-inspired buildings such as the MetLife Tower in New York to other notable examples of venetian-themed architecture.
Being one of the few Venetian resident left makes me reflect about the different aspects of this phenomenon. I am doing a residency in New York at the moment, and my thoughts are even more going towards a reflection on cityscapes.
What is the essence of a city? What is Venezianity?
What makes Venice Venice? Which are the elements that are peculiar of it?
How are the replicas designed and made? How they are built, crafted and narrated?
How can we imagine a new city starting from an idealized city?
(N.d.). Archive.org. Retrieved December 1, 2023, from https://web.archive.org/web/20080819191657/http://www.portalveneza.com.br/a_cidade.php
Moltedo, G. (Ed.). (2009). Welcome to Venice: Replicas, imitations and dreams of an Italian city. Marsilio Editori. https://ytali.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/WELCOME-TO-VENICE-EN.pdf