It is not what they built. It is what they knocked down.
It is not the houses. It is the spaces between the houses.
It is not the streets that exist. It is the streets that no longer exist.
James Fenton, 'A German Requiem'
The topic of international space is like one of those monstrous catfish which used to loaf around the hot-water outfalls of the Berlin power stations. You could hook it, net it, spear it, or even seize it in your arms if it were not so heavy and slippery. In an effort to get some grip on international space I have followed James Fenton by asking, in three different ways, whether it might be between things - not the houses but the spaces between the houses. It could be looked at as a system of gaps, blanks or crevices between social or diplomatic entities. Or, in an Einsteinian space-time way, as the space which appears when a social or diplomatic house or houses fall down: a vacancy measurable in terms of power, geography and time - usually a pretty short time. Or, lastly, it is possible to understand it as a sort of air-pocket, like the spaces which preserved a few fortunate people in the Gujarat earthquake. What interests me is the space which opens out or is excavated under the reinforced concrete of a tyranny, and within which human behaviour can regain authenticity.
LRB 24 May 2001 | PDF Download