City at a Time of Crisis

 

 

Tracing and researching crisis-ridden urban public spaces

in Athens, Greece.

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I. The metro is the quintessential blood-line of the metropolis. It traverses it, just like the veins traverse the human body. This, then, becomes one of the fastest rule-of-thumb we have in understanding whether a city holds a metropolitan calibre: is it big enough to have a metro? And so, it seemed perfectly fitting for Athens to acquire its metro system at that exact moment when it had also believed, momentarily, that it gained metropolitan status... the Olympics, the construction boom, the apparent prosperity (for some) –– and the relentless exploitation to match it (for most): somehow, without anyone really ever being able to explain how or why, Athens appeared to be making it; it seemed like it was firmly standing with both feet in the West. For a fleeting moment, Athens had become a Metropolis.

Tick.  “I never thought it would come to this. But I probably have to go, I have to get out of this place. And soon, you know it, so will you”.

Tock.  The middle-aged man has one of the most shy but frenzied gazes that I have seen in a long while. The combination is a peculiar one, and it gets me thinking. In the metro, in the bus or in the tram, our utmost struggle is to rest our gaze somewhere; better even, to allow it a private thoroughfare, a trajectory to reach beyond the point where we stand. In a space of intense togetherness, every single other sense of ours is exposed naked: we may overhear conversations, we may smell and we may touch our fellow passengers. Taste aside, the only sense acting as line of defence against this cramped and forced conviviality is sight.

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About Us

City at the Time of Crisis is a research project tracing and researching the effects of the ongoing financial crisis on urban public spaces in Athens, Greece. Read more...