(In)visible Portland. By Mike Vogel.

Inspired by Calvino’s Maurilia, Mike Vogel’s contribution to our project resorts to images from a longstanding bar that is going to be torn down in his hometown, Portland, Oregon, USA: ‘I remember seeing an old picture of the bar online so I suddenly had my inspiration for Maurilia and what the author says about it: “In Maurilia, the traveler is invited to visit the city and, at the same time, to examine some old postcards that show it as it used to be”. I wanted to send a piece of my city which will soon be invisible. This is a picture of the Lotus bar in Portland, Oregon, which strangely opened in 1924, a time when alcohol was prohibited in the United States. Gambling was legal, so people would go there to play cards and purchase bootlegged alcohol.’

The bar will soon disappear as a result of ‘progress’, exactly like some places in the Maurilia Calvino imagined: ‘The Lotus is scheduled for destruction soon to make room for the future. I wanted to bend reality a little by inverting the postcard section of Maurilia so that it looks like an old photograph holding up a postcard from the future. I enjoy the idea that the world used to be black and white so there is nothing strange about holding up a color postcard in a monochromatic past’.

Vogel also reflects on the connections between past, present and future through the visualization he has created: ‘Calvino’s Maurilia is also personal to me because I recognize how misleading nostalgia can be. I am always excited about the future, despite the sad reality that for cities (and people) to make room for the future, they must lose pieces of their past.’

Note on the author:

Mike Vogel is a writer and transmedia producer based in Oregon, USA. Among his many projects and books there is Phrenic, a futuristic thriller set in a post-apocalyptic era when cloning is a threat to human beings. The story is told over a variety of media platforms and includes, among others, YouTube episodes, a fanb submitted prequel and a Choose Your Own Adventure story.