Expression in the City

How does a city express itself? On its walls? In its streets? In its violence? Through its atmosphere? Does it spill out from its people, their screams, their laughter on the streets? Do individuals make the city, or does a city make the individuals what they are, what they can be?

The interactions between the people within a city are constantly restrained, there are a set of conventions and expectations that most people tacitly abide by, and if you step out from them you are often, even unintentionally, deemed strange. You cause a friction and an awkwardness that most people would rather avoid. Interactions are constantly policed by this accepted code, even though it is never stated and never defined. Views and opinions you hold personally, things you might say and think, are subverted in a congregation of people. The presence of multiple people in a social situation limits what you can, and want to say. Interaction can be a prison that confines people, or it can be something that sets them free. In a city where so many people have the opportunity to meet, to come into contact with each other, there is a constant potential that at some point you may meet the right person, the right people for you, and that these people will go on to let out aspects of your personality that would have been restrained had you met others. You have the opportunity to experience things in a city that could let out things about your personality that might otherwise have remained unexplored.

If you were to ask what it is that you have the potential to do if you were completely freed from the weight of the experiences that hold you back, if you could analyse yourself with complete clarity and see every event of your life and how it has effected you and what you have the potential to be in the perfect circumstances, then the city looks far less like something limiting. In a city, and at a university within a city, people continually come into contact. By chance, or through a type of predestined inevitability. You might have passed someone, seen their face, know of someone, but have always missed them, and then come to meet them in strange, unexpected circumstances, in the unusual but completely natural and inevitable ways that people come to know each other.

The importance of meeting the right people is in being able to express yourself in a way that’s unimpeded. In encouraging and building the real version of yourself up rather than limiting it and making it fall in line with the perceptions of others. Some people might claim to see the expression of concepts, of thought, feeling, and emotion, as of not much importance, and will compare it to concrete events going on in the world for proof that self-expression is ineffectual in the face of problems that need definite action to rectify them. But unrestrained creativity, unrestrained personal self-expression is conversely exactly what is needed. If creativity and understanding an individual were prioritised and guided, and most importantly an individual was understood and empathised with, many of those seemingly concrete problems would go away.

Self-expression comes in all sorts of forms. Painting the walls with statements, sticking up posters, handing out cards, preaching in the street, conversation, your thoughts as you walk home, listening to music, laughing. Forms of art: writing, music, visual art, filmmaking, photography, are ways in which that expression, the feelings that pass by on a normal day, an abnormal day, in a lifetime, can be captured, held and expressed to someone else.

Cardiff has many creative people within it. It has many creative places, and people that appreciate that creativity. It has venues all across the city to help express it with people dedicating their time to helping to do that. It has people within it with something to express.

The city can, and is, constantly created by its people, continually building, redefining and expressing itself.