This is the miracle of real presence,
life made manifest,
opened like a beautiful pomegranate
and stripped of its covering,
A theater of flesh.
Jean Epstein, “Le cinéma et les lettres modernes,”
La Poésie d’aujourd’hui, un nouvel état d’intelligence, 1921
No other space is as instrumental within the city grid as the sidewalk, at which and from which it is possible to conjure the materiality of the lived city, continuously spilled amid the blocks of downtown San José.
On the dermis of this area, it is possible to witness the cordiality of those who pick up a fallen coat, and give smiles without hypocrisy or sincere thanks for small favours; but also experience the manifests of our immediate obsessions, the problems, and morbid narratives in vogue and the discord between our consumption aspirations and our real material capacity.
To touch is to be touched. Of the resources available to us to try to make sense of our presence, the skin is the organ we trust the most to give shape to the immediate around us. It lets us recognize ourselves as we dive through reality, in the same way, that those 120 cm of sidewalk contrasts us in the lived representation of our diversity, in the same manner, it shows us on every path of scars and blemishes the possibilities in the fatality of togetherness.
On the sidewalk as on a stage we are all seen as “others” not as “ones”, and that has value: the union of strangers in a plural common self. It propitiates all important ephemeral contacts which lead to mutual recognitions: the skin that we all tread on touches us all back, shapes us back. In short, as Aristotle would say, “It is evident that the loss of touch necessarily involves the death of the animal”; and in our case, without skin there is no city, no others, no us.
*All pictures were taken in downtown San José, Costa Rica. Within an area of 1.87 km2, which has 0.4 km2 of sidewalks as a whole.