Unmade city is cultural repository for information about alleys — the ones in our neighborhoods and those in our imagination. Alleys offer a unique opportunity to explore a collision of topics including non-traditional economies, class and gentrification, land use and development, wilderness, boredom, and the poetic role spaces can play in the subconscious of the city. They talk to us about the intersection of public and private space; the necessity of wilderness (both external and internal); things that are hidden (or that we want to hide) and things that are seen. They reveal the ways in which external spaces can evoke internal experiences; and how internal experiences, values, and ideas then get projected onto the places around us. In them we can see a proposal: to override the culture of efficiency, rationality, and self interest with slowness, poetry, and caring about place and others.

Unmade city was started by Krista Connerly as part of her 10-year research-initiative, the Project for Urban Intimacy. For the past year she has been walking, photographing, filming, and writing about the alleys of SE Portland. Along the way she has been in conversation with neighbors about their experiences of these local spaces as well as the alleys we may have grown up around and those encountered in the cultural imagination.

This project was made possible by a grant through the Regional Arts and Culture Council and was also supported through Resident Residency and PICA’s Precipice Fund with the support of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and Calligram.


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