In our latest magazine issue No. 23: Mexico City we show Nuno Cera’s mesmeric video, taken from a helicopter circling over the endlessly sprawling megalopolis. The video is just part of a much larger project for Cera, Futureland, which records the traces of the incredible urban growth that has occurred over the last decades in cities worldwide, from Jakarta to Mumbai to Cairo. Florian Heilmeyer wonders what it all tells us about our future.
Put simply, the Lisbon-based video artist and photographer Nuno Cera is interested in our urban surroundings. In his work as photographer and video artist he examines the legacy of urban growth, town planning and architecture of the 20th century, while keeping a close eye on current developments in cities today.
Cera's Futureland project, initiated in 2008, was his take on the recent “astonishing urban growth of cities”, as he writes, and its “impact on their inhabitants and the environment”. For this project he chose nine rapidly growing megacities on four continents: Istanbul, Cairo, Dubai, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Jakarta, and Mumbai. His artistic approach in this project is not about trying to document or analyse this growth in the sense of putting the process in a chronological, systematical or comparable order. Instead, his project is a collection of impressions and atmospheres, leaving it up to the viewer to judge or draw conclusions – if there are any – to these complex processes and the reasons behind them.
Video: Shanghai, China, 2007 (© Nuno Cera)
What Cera calls an “artistic pilgrimage” adds up to a global experience of transformation. With these manifold impressions of an urban landscape worldwide, shifting, changing and at an immense speed and scale, we get an idea of where urban growth is currently heading. And one can’t avoid getting the (slightly creepy) feeling that this might actually not be where we wanted to go: is this the Futureland we planned? While Cera’s view on the nine cities remains relatively neutral (though not documentary or scientific, but personal), the viewer starts to see how mad this all is once you line up all the pieces next to each other.
– Florian Heilmeyer
– Nuno Cera lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal. He is a photographer and video artist, addressing spatial conditions, architecture and urban situations through fictional and poetic documentary forms.
Now read uncube issue No. 23: Mexico City