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The ideal city

by Tadeusz Deregowski

A few words of explanation might be helpful to Planum readers.
Monoprint is a simple printmaking process. The technique is unusual among printmaking techniques, in that it cannot be used to produce an edition of identical prints: every monoprint is unique.

It is, by far, the easiest of printmaking techniques. A monoprint is, essentially, a printed painting. The artist takes a surface (often a textured plastic called “true-grain”- though in these case of this series I used a large sheet of steel), and covers it in ink., using brushes, rollers or whatever takes his fancy. Then he places a sheet of paper over his surface, applies pressure to the back of the paper (usually using a printing press) then removes the paper to gain a print. There will remain, on the surface of the plate, a faint ghost of the original inked image. Sometimes, a second, much fainter print can be taken from this. I used these ”ghost” images to suggest layers in this series of prints: layers, perhaps analagous to the historical processes which determine the creation of a city.
However, plainly, I had a great deal more liberty than any working town planner to construct a city to satisfy my imaginative ambitions. The notion of a planner represented in these works, therefore, is one where the planner is a romantic hero, a solo author who is only limited by the quality of his own imagination. Inevitably, a heroic image of the city in the result, and the city that these prints most obviously suggests is St Petersburg, city of Dostoevsky.
Appropriately, then, the prints should also be viewed as a series of existential enquiries where the city plan is a maze suggesting different states of mind. They should be considered with thought to Paul Auster’s masterpiece, City of Glass, or Knut Hamsun’s strange urban book, “Hunger”. Their “psychological” qualities is, I think, clearly illustrated by contrasting them with the ideal city pictures of Mondrian (“Broadway Boogie-Woogie”).
The ideal city is now an idea that has now, perhaps, passed its time, relating as it did to an economic structure that has gone and with it a series of private and public relationships, and an aesthetic sensibility support them. This series of prints might best be regarded as a sort of elegy for a dying concept. Perhaps this also accounts for their nostalgic mood.