Fedora- Curatorial Note

Week 7: 7/3/16

Curatorial Note

Invisible Cities, the book by Italo Calvino, describes different cities through a common perspective. In the entire book, the cities either visually or metaphorically represent different traits. Such traits, habits or concepts that are depicted through different elements in the cities. These scenarios in each of the cities in the book eventually lead into portraying a single city. Similarly, while leading a certain kind of life, it is inevitable to experience and go through different circumstances but eventually life and the person remain as it is.

Fedora, one of the cities from the book, can be understood through various lenses. The globes can be assigned different meanings. They maybe memories, hopes or dreams. The changes in the cities might depict different circumstances. To each person the story induces a different feeling and hence a different perspective.

To think of the globes as memories, or a collective memory, each and every small aspect of the city which might not exist the very next moment starts holding an important value. The cities in the little globes, portray what one once desired and how it was visually.

The city which the inhabitants desired were spaces, as the time passes by the city grows and so do the desires, there is a change observed not only in the dimensions of the city but also the how the time has shaped different desires. The only certainty about Fedora is the fact that it exists. On the map of Fedora, there is a space that is occupied by Fedora. This space is made up of not only the actual city but also the imagined and desired forms of the city.

When the city is viewed through visuals only, we understand the different elements mentioned in the passage hold a meaning which can be related metaphorically. To understand the city through signs, simple elements are taken into account and studied deeply. In Fedora, different aspects of the city like the elephants, or the minarets depict how the city have surroundings that differ every now and then.

Finally what Fedora portrays and means differs from person to person. To me, Fedora is a an experience. We all have some sort of desire of how we want things to take place and how they should proceed according to our wishes, but it never really works that way. We repeatedly think of these situations and hence they are etched into our minds. Even if we were to visit Fedora, we would have at least one memory or desire that we would remember amongst all the changing phases of the city. That one desire, so vivid, that would soon be the only memory we hold of Fedora. This memory or desire, to its inhabitants are the globes. In the mayhem caused by the repeated changes in the city, the inhabitants have one place to go to, where their minds can be at peace and their desires can be revisited till some extent. Hence, these globes in Fedora hold a lot of importance, rather than just keeping a record of desires and memories.


Poem on Fedora

I shall tell you about Fedora next,

Nothing there was constant, valley or the crest.

I stood there, in a narrow lane,

At one point experiencing sun, snow and rain.

Illusional, I could call the city

Or delusional, myself.


Then I happened to meet the globes,

Alone in an empty room, through their lens.

The city veiled in mystery, started to make sense,

A finicky, aged prince, who altered,

Very frequently his long robes,

Every change being painted and framed.

A Narrative on Fedora

Week 5: 22/2/16

Assignment 1

A Narrative on Fedora

I tried concentrating I tell you, but was it me or the city? Was this my exhaustion after travelling for so long in the desert that was making me delusional? This agitation that was evident, it was the city, somehow the city didn’t seem stable. Every few moments it tried to show me something different, every person I met here talked in all three tenses at the same time. My thoughts were drifting from one time to the other.

There beneath the blazing sun, on an arid land I met him, he was a jolly fellow. He sat on a rock with his tattered clothes sprawled around him. Those clothes were royal robes to him. He talked about Medusa pond, seven years ago, which I couldn’t find then, and a monument which would be built where he was sitting. I met others trying to find the pond and the proposed monument but to my astonishment, they couldn’t recollect that. Instead I was told about the elephants and the minarets. So I tried searching for the minarets but I couldn’t find them either.

Finally I referred to a map, it showed only grids, no signs nor any symbols. The city was making me crazy. I was hoping to somehow give my uneasiness a rest but when I failed to decipher the map, I actually started to wonder whether did the city actually exist or not. But right in the centre of the map was an illustration of an old building. Naturally I went to the monument. There I found my answer. When I went inside saw thousands of globes in front of me. I saw the man’s pond and his monument in one globe, in the other I met the elephants and the minarets. But finally I saw something that caught my eye. In one globe on the shelf, I saw myself, talking to the queer man, meeting the intriguing inhabitants, referring to map and then finally a mirror image of myself.

Fifty years since but I still don’t remember, how much time I spent looking at that globe. But you understand what I just said to you, do you? I didn’t describe the city I saw then, or the places I saw or the conditions I lived in, but I have just described my globe. There are many different cities that I have visited, I can vaguely remember how they were, but Fedora is the city I desire, the city I came across. For me, meeting the man there and the other inhabitants was similar to an adventure. When I found my globe I felt as if I had found my destination. But as a traveller, one destination isn’t a favourable concept, but then again my destination changed at the blink of an eye. I don’t know how is it now, well I don’t even know how was it then. But the one thing, perhaps the only thing I am sure of is of its existence. Me, the city and the globe.

Memory and Object

Week 3: 8/2/16

Assignment 2

Memory and Object


As a person who has an affinity towards nature, living in Mumbai wasn’t one of the best parts of my life. And I would always long to travel to exotic destinations like the seaside, or the hill or somewhere with just snow all around. But both my parents work full time and hence we never really have a chance to travel as frequently as one should. So as a small kid up till now, I have cherished the time I was out travelling knowing that unlike others I am not that fortunate to visit new places that often.

The object that keeps me optimistic is something I carry around in myself. It is not just one object but a combination of two. One of them is a small dried twig of a pine tree and other is a shell I collected from one of the beaches. The twig reminds not only me of all the wonderful moments I spent in Kashmir last year, but also of the time when I first saw snow when I was in 6th grade. It takes me back to the time when I sat alone in the balcony, on a cold night in Pahalgam trying to put together my messed up life or to the time when I first touched snow in Dalhousie on a huge stone on a corner of a ghat, still not acquainted with long stretches of snow fields I would find in Manali.

So now when I look at the small twig, now resting between the pages of my planner I visualize the tree I plucked it from, the beautiful platform of fresh snow it stood on and of course a younger version of myself, covered from head to toe with heavy woollens, plucking it and contemplating about someday like this when I would fondly recollect my memories.

The shell holds a special place in my heart. But this time it reminds me of how I took a quick getaway during my 12th grade. I always associate and try to feel what I felt back then on my two-day trip to Ganapatipule. But somehow, what I felt back then I am yet unable to feel. I felt free, I was under tremendous pressure to do well in my examinations, that somehow I had started feeling suffocated. But those two days changed it all. I still try to decipher that moment when I grinned widely as I saw the beach, I ran towards the water, my feet trying to sink in the sand with every step. For a moment, nothing mattered, just me and the beach.

Since these trips and journeys are something that I cherish the most, even the objects that minutely remind me of them are something that are precious to me. Therefore I love this process of being taken to a completely different world of my memories when I see the old twig along with my reminders or the shell with rivets or train tickets in my wallet.



Constructive Spaces

Week 3: 8/2/16

Assignment 1

Constructive Spaces

How does Calvino describe his cities?

What is the role that the monuments play?

How does the urban interact with the natural?

How do we distinguish between nature and man-made?

Calvino describes his cities sometimes visually or else leaves it our imagination. He talks about his cities through people, places, monuments and incidents. Sometimes there are cities he talks about with which we can relate too and sometimes they introduce us to a concept we haven’t even thought of. In the city of Fedora, each version of the city is depicted in a crystal globe at the museum in the centre. We can somehow relate this to our own museum, but the changes in our case aren’t that drastic as in Fedora.

Monuments are a significant part of Calvino’s tales about the city. They are the reason we can distinguish the cities from one another. In other monuments which Calvino describe help us shape our imagination of the city. In some places where Calvino describes the rituals of the people rather than the monuments, we are bound to visualise how the monument would be like in such kind of a city. The museum or they gray building in the city of Fedora isn’t given much importance until the end when it hits you that in the ever-changing city of Fedora, it is the only one aspect that doesn’t undergo a change. We understand how vital the old building is even though it is mentioned very briefly.

The interaction between the urban and the natural is a pivotal feature in the tales of the cities. Calvino portrays this relation in his cities through his observations. He describes the habit of the inhabitants with reference to the surroundings. In many cities we notice this interaction like how people live in the spaces occupied by the city, or how peculiar practices they follow. In the city of Fedora each of the inhabitant have their own crystal globe at the museum to which they feel a connection. For the inhabitant, the miniature city of Fedora in that particular globe is the Fedora of their dreams.

There are times when we face difficulties in trying to differentiate between the man-made and nature. In Fedora the grey building in the centre suggests that it is the only thing that has been constant in the city. It can be debated whether it is a naturally occurring object that doesn’t participate in the change that occurs or is it man-made. But we are aware the fact that though it is a constant, it progresses as the city transforms.


Lower Parel

Week 3: 8/2/16

Assignment 1

Lower Parel as Marco Polo

The land which I now speak of, the land of Lower Parel is one of is kind. An explorer loses its path at the crack of dawn as the inhabitants run to their work places. Even I, at noon finally met a young lad by the narrow road near a huge glass monument. He seemed in a hurry and ran inside, so I followed him but alas! They only let the inhabitants inside. I felt sad and lonely.

After hours of waiting, I saw the young lad again, this time with a few maidens, he was now entering a bar. I followed him inside and this time fortunately they did allow me inside. But he was engrossed with his maidens, that I couldn’t talk to him. I felt sad and lonely again.

I tell you Kublai Khan, Lower Parel is the place to go if you are alone and sad.


Memory and Fedora

Week 2: 1/2/16

Assignment 2

Fedora was a simple city which changed itself in a blink of an eye. Each of the Fedoras, remembered, existing or anticipated were preserved in the crystal globes kept in the central museum of Fedora. In time when a man is making the miniature Fedora, the city changes before his piece is complete. Inhabitants of Fedora each have their own city of Fedora, they have elements combined from various times which make up a perfect and desired city in their mind. How do they distinguish between the reality and their desires? Well, they don’t. The idea of Fedora for them constitutes of their memories and their dreams. Each of them are drawn towards a particular crystal globe, in which they find their once remembered and cherished Fedora. These globes are not just different versions of the city but actual memories which are frozen and preserved for the inhabitants to recollect and cherish them.