From the Editors

You don’t have to look too hard at Providence before the anomalies of its peculiar landscape reveal themselves. The largest, most distinctive building of its skyline is eerily shuttered and vacant. The historic river that snakes through its downtown is actually a transplanted facsimile of its former self. Each of its neighborhoods are divided by noisy, pedestrian-proof interstates that skewer the city. Walking around College Hill can often feel like walking around a movie set (in January, it literally was, when a few blocks were taken over to film Hocus Pocus 2). It’s hard to characterize Providence in one particular way to those who have never been here; the only guarantee seems to be that there is no guarantee.

The poet Kazim Ali writes, “I wanted to learn that cities are what’s under the surface, that the visible buildings are only consonants of a city’s language. As with language, one has to learn the vowels to be able to speak—the vowels meaning the empty spaces of silence in the word … the streets and buildings underneath the streets and buildings that you see.”

The pieces in this issue of v.1 do exactly this: they ring with the sound of places beyond the infrastructure we already know. They illuminate the interstices between landmarks, destinations, states of being. They survey the Puerto Rican music that links Jamaica to New York, the point at which Colorado highways become Wisconsin roads; the sourceless and invisible noise of downtown; the fantastical and alarming changes of a beloved Virginian pond; the ghosts of industry that haunt New England; a girl confined to an eternal and windowless gridlock.

We’ve sorted these writings into five categories: Ecosystems, reflections on our cohabitation with other beings; Homes, reimaginings of our most intimate spaces; Archaeologies, excavations of what lies beneath or behind us; Explorations, the pursuit of uncharted territory—or uncharted paths through familiar territory; and New Constructions, blueprints and fantasies of spaces that have yet to be realized.

Each text introduces not just a landscape itself but a way to move through it—rapidly, hesitantly, politically, analytically, etc. Maps can be like compositional scores, and these pieces offer choreographies of their own through the places we (don’t) inhabit; their rhythms drift and sync in time with one another to reflect the way we give diligence to our places. It’s an urgent time to do so: here, RISD completes its first post-pandemic year in person (behold, The Met!); elsewhere in the city, old establishments are replaced with new developments; overseas, senseless violence reveals how quickly geography and its meaning can be so violently abused.

v.1 has always defined itself through reinvention; every year, it takes a different shape, a different theme, a different format. Once again, the guarantee is that there is no guarantee. But if there’s one constant, it is that v.1 always functions as a space: an opening, an opportunity. A consonant to be sounded by its given vowels. With each iteration, a new landscape is generated, the contours of its hills and the geometry of its cities carved and built by students and faculty and staff around us.

Providence’s unsteady springtimes remind us not to take the conditions of our place for granted. The first warm day or a sudden cold rain proves to us that dwelling presently is an active, ongoing process of discovery. With our Spring 2022 issue, v.1 embraces this from our headquarters in 15 West—nested in the heart of Providence—where we celebrate and explore this strange, wonderful, unpredictable space and time.

Esther Akintoye
Graciela Batista
Emma Caamaño
Lydia Chodosh
Maxwell Fertik
Zoë Pulley
Lena Rentel
Asher White

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