Maybe because they are hidden, inaccessible, lost or forgotten, I have always found pleasure in discovering elements, places, relationships, and systems that we cannot see: Listening to a story that shines light into a neighborhood that no longer exists. Finding a picture of a forgotten building and imagining the stories it holds. Going to a site of a long abandoned industry that shaped the lives of those who worked and lived there. Seeing an odd structure, hole or artifact in your city and speculating about its function. In short, discovering worlds that might be in front of us but remain invisible.
In Bilbao, the city where I grew up, three areas hidden or inaccessible have always fascinated me: the former industrial landscape of Altos Hornos de Vizcaya, the abandoned amusement park atop Artxanda, and the nuclear power plant in Lemoniz that never opened and remains a phantasmagoric ruin by the coast. All three places are as fascinating for their privileged locations, extra large-scale sites, and odd-shaped buildings as for the role they played in the history and memory of the residents of the city. In a way, they were all part of a city that no longer exists and are waiting to find their place in the future one.
Uncovering physical places as well as the stories that they contain can help us understand our past and learn from it. At the same time, they can help us shine a light onto the way our cities currently work and provide us the knowledge and tools to speculate about the possibilities available in the near future.
With that exploratory mentality, this issue looks into what is waiting to be revealed, from physical to virtual, from built to immaterial, from collective to personal.
Two photographic series open the issue, taking us into the war in Congo and inside the personal lives of a close group of transgender and transvestites of Lahore in Pakistan.
The work of Salottobuono, Stefanie Posavec and Manuel Lima help us understand and visualize the main ideas and hidden structures that define buildings, literature and any other complex network that we can think of.
We also look at forgotten traces present in cities such as San Francisco, Skopje and Detroit. A past that continues to define their present and may have the clues to shape their future.
In other cities, such as Barcelona and Madrid, technology allows us to see what remains dormant under the sunlight or hide the informal reality from the public.
And in between those contributions, five short stories that provide five personal readings on our visibility topic.
With all these contributions, we are bringing forgotten landscapes, hidden away systems and invisible conditions back to the forefront of the public eye, all of them significant in our collective and personal history and waiting to be reexamined.