Walking on the most touristic waterfront of Copenhagen, I tumbled upon the word PUBIS tagged on a few different surfaces. As I saw this word rendered in bright yellow, it shone through my different linguistic layers before I could make up my mind about the language in which I had to interpret it.
My first layer was in French, followed immediately by English. In both language, pubis has the same meaning:
Either of a pair of bones forming the two sides of the pelvis.
From latin OS PUBIS, became PUBIS in the late 16th century.
My other linguistic layers didn't get into motion, I jumped immediately into looking after the Danish word for pubis. If it were the same, I wasn't going to add this encounter to my City in Translation collection... After a simple google search, I discovered that skamben is the Danish word for pubis (thank you Wikipedia).
When I took these pictures during my long walks across Copenhagen, I didn't realise the word raver was tagged under the first pubis (on the door). Only now, looking at the photograph as part of my reflecting on the many materials collected do I see it.
My different linguistic layers get into motion, again.
I see PUBIS RAVER
I hear THE PUBIS WHO GOES TO RAVES
I see PUBIS RÊVEUR
I hear LE PUBIS QUI RÊVE ET QUI VA AUX RAVES
Zooming further, I realise there's a 2 next to raver.
or is it a question mark missing its dot?
or is it a reversed "s"?
My linguistic layers get mixed into the process and I even forget about the definition of the word itself. I keep thinking of this pubis going to raves or dreaming, without really picturing the absurdity of it. I just see the words. Not their meaning. Just words that can move from one language into another inside my head.
Then this came along: while I was trying to do some research online to find more information about the street artist responsible for PUBISing Nyhavn, I found a blog post about a book entitled Public Spaces, Public Life, Copenhagen from 1996.
[zooming in] this is a screenshot from the webpage:
The obvious typo on the first sentence caught my attention. "Pubic Spaces", which I wouldn't have stumbled on if I was reading this in a different context. It's just a typo, a most obvious one. But linking it to my imaginary dreamy pubis going from rave to rave, seeing it from the perspective of this trace left on urban space and inside my linguistically confused head, I cannot stop trying to imagine what a pubic space may look like. And I wonder how this word "PUBIS" tagged on different places in the city affects people walking by, those with other languages inside their minds. And I keep wondering, would anyone else imagine a pubis rêveur in the middle of Nyhavn?