Over 500 pages long, Summarising Cities. Europe’s Squares and their Histories tells the story of urban squares in Europe. The book mixes the text with numerous images, part of them aerial, taken with the help of a drone. A square is a summary. Historical, architectural, social. In a city square one can see clearly and at once all the layers of human life and of social life. In this respect, the square is a privileged space.
Cătălin D. Constantin – Summarising Cities. Europe’s Squares and their Histories (Orașe în rezumat. Piețe din Europa și istoriile lor), Bucharest, PeterPanArt and „Ion Mincu” Universitar Publishing Houses, with financial support of National Cultural Fund’s Administration (AFCN), 2017
Cătălin D. Constantin leaps across past centuries in order to understand from this book the story what the Square means for Europe. His book reminds me of words I heard in my early twenties. I was with my best friend, Antoine de Beaufort, on the Mediterranean coast, near Toulon. Beaufort knew the great writer Charles Maurois. Old by that time, he recounted his memories, telling us how, the first time he could get on a ship for Greece, upon seeing the Acropolis after rounding the coast, he cried: “C’estn’est pas beau, c’est Le Beau!”
The book puts us in a perspective where the place and the habitation complete each other naturally. The square is, in the author’s vision, a non-Newtonian space, presented through energies, not only through structures and functions. Therefore, the book is completely new through its method. Cătălin D. Constantin carefully weaves images in a language which appears to be merely literary, yet is scientific in its content. This is no simple juxtaposition, but a well thought out way of building a special discourse, the only one capable to offer a reading of the space in terms of non-matter, in terms of energies. The novelty is found not only in its approach, but also, I would argue, in its epistemology.
The anthropological vision that is uncovered in the book has shown itself to be a spellweaver and can be considered a postmodern variant of what Malinowski calls the magical art of the ethnographer.
Cătălin D. Constantin’s point of view, regarding the relation between real and imaginary architecture, is remarkable.
Publishing project co-financed by the Administration of the National Cultural Fund. The book appears as a co-edition with Editura Universitară ,,Ion Mincu”.