city sickness aritz galarraga   I  stanley wong The city doesn't satisfy us: you can communicate with people on the other side of the world, but you don't know who your next-door neighbour is, what he or she is, or if they're even alive today. The streets are always the same, they don't have a special look in the way each different river has. The individuals who go around each new part of a city seem to be made of stone, they're mechanical beings, like sleepwalkers. Some people call it Atopia, the malaise that today's cities create. What it is not, of course, is utopia, the search for an inexistent place. It's Atopia.

Atopia is the malaise created by a city which does exist: it's overwhelmed, incapable of meeting the needs that make up modern life, it's now being changed into something different. What was once a framework for coming together and for working together has been atomised, it's become a place for leisure. It used to be for getting together and getting things done, but that's all gone now. It's been the influence of malaise, city sickness, the citizens no longer even recognise their own reflections. There's a new exhibition in the city of Barcelona, in the city that wants to be the very model of citizenship, civil respect and cosmopolitanism. Barcelona, la millor botiga del món, the best shop in the world, Barcelona posa’t guapa, get all dressed up, many writers have contributed to a book called Odio Barcelona (I hate Barcelona). The exhibition is about Atopia. Art i ciutat al segle XXI.

Taking city sickness as its starting point, unwell citizens, many artists are working to find the relationship between the plastic and visual arts and contemporary cities. It seems that at the start of the 21st century art has gone back to its roots, to an idea about aesthetics an emotions, and this has happened because of a single experience, city sickness. Against the city's inhabitants, the city without inhabitants, citizens without a city, the apotheosis of citizenship. And the transitions between them. Rogelio Lopez Cuenca, Philip-Lorca diCorcia and many other have been invited. And along with the artists a dictionary, the definition of many words; everyone who's wanted to take part has given words new definitions or, at least, given a personal definition.

The City. This seems to be what society will most need to organize in the future. If it isn't already. City: n. A structured series of houses and buildings for many people to live in, these inhabitants working in many different occupations, which are mostly secondary and tertiary sector. Harluxet encyclopedia's precise, lame definition.

City: “private humanity's place”, says Marc Bloch. As Claude Lefort explains, Europe won its hegemony thanks to the development of cities, which, fleeing from the organic world of the Middle Ages, sought freedom and to be places of commerce. The city, above all else, standardises society and institutionalises a lifestyle shared by strangers.

Fiction: the curtain between fiction and reality is very fine We live in a cloud of fiction, and that's what led J.G. Ballard to say that literature's job is to create reality.

History: Object: society's time on earth. Practice: the durable and always worrying reconstruction of the past. The wish to condition society's adventure to what we want today for ever. History's a way of writing the past.

Ideology: the projects carried out must be nourished in one way or another. Ideologies are intellectual constructions, created to have unbearable relationships with reality, and for each person to adapt to the role assigned him or her by society. There's a common characteristic to all the ideologies of the 19th and 20th centuries: work makes you free. Nobody's asked for the right for laziness (according to Paul Lafargue, Marx's son-in-law) to be included as a civil right. Maybe being lazy is the last subversive refuge.

Piece of news: an occurrence with some type of repercussion, which deserves a considered public view. Pieces of news are fundamental material in the construction and defining of any particular society's opinion.

Pornography: displaying private situations in public. Or commercial interest. Publishing the private and privatising the public are part of mass media society.

Tourism: journeys are an instrument for having a look at the world superficially. Has anybody ever said that the superficial is as noble as the profound? It's a factor in universalising communication. A rich business.