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Shadow city

There is a hidden city in Porto, a city of shadows; not negative, or dark, but refreshing shadows. Shadows that, apart from filtering sun and light, reproduce different cities: buildings, furniture, trees and people changing everyday, all year long; you will never find the same city twice, today's city will be another city tomorrow.

Buildings, trees and people become bigger as the year passes, being bigger during the winter, smaller during the summer.

Shaded buildings, trees and even people protect each other; people are covered, looked after, cared for. Portuenses know it, so every time they leave their homes, they seek their shelter. You will never see a tripeiro walk in a straight line, more like a zigzag or curvy line, changing sides on a street, jaywalking. And they will never get a ticket for doing it, pedestrians can cross everywhere without restrictions, motorists expect them to do so.

Shadow and light not only govern people’s behaviour while walking, but also while standing or sitting: you can find three old ladies sitting on a bench under a small shade, a man standing on the middle of a street, resting peacefully, or kids playing under an arcade while their parents drink coffee.

But being protected by shade is not permitted all the time; according to several institutions, such behaviour makes people waste time, drifting and standing very often. It is not yet banned, but different measures of control have been implemented: there was a time when chairs and furniture was movable, making it easier to seek a fresh, cool shade. Today chairs are chained to the floor, less people sitting, more people walking efficiently to work.

Shades, however, have not ceased to be vital for local people, who always find a way to hide under them, modifying their daily behaviour and activities, especially in public space.

I am as fickle as the weather. Sun is hot, shade is cool, and I don’t walk in a straight line.

Is it always this cold at night?

Three old women cram themselves trying to all fit on a small bench protecting their fragile skin from the strong daylight. Us youths don’t care.

“Why do YOU need sunscreen?”

Do people usually walk in the sun, sit in the shade? Are shadows for the sedentary?


Do we tend to appreciate what’s more ephemeral, and forget what we have in abundance?


Do we follow an itinerary predominantly defined by what is less painful for our eyesight to adjust to?

Because I’m starting to believe that

We are more defined by spaces that aren’t there, like the cast that the city has on itself. The shadows its content proposes and, how all the elements complement each other, and become more connected,

By a mere darker shade of light.

Text and project by : Ximena Ocampo, Rand Ghibril, Maximilian Berz.

Thanks to derive lab

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