City at a Time of Crisis

 

 

Tracing and researching crisis-ridden urban public spaces

in Athens, Greece.

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Mass Transient

Mass transient is an ethnographic study of spaces of mass transit in Athens — and beyond: it is a study that seeks to reveal and to understand the ever-growing antagonisms and tensions in these quintessential spaces of the everyday as the crisis deepens. At this historical conjuncture, buses, trolleys and metro carriages become the primary public spaces: on the one hand moving around the ‘fallen angels’ of the bourgeois dream, and on the other, those swirling through the city undocumented, seeking survival. And on top of both, the drivers and inspectors, the ever-watching authority. Mass transient is an ethnographic study that aspires to trace the transition of society across the entire Greek territory as inscribed in the confines of the bus, the tram, the metro carriage. A close, meticulous reading of these spaces that will help us understand how the transitory flux of a society in turmoil becomes a galvanised reality; how a transient mass becomes critical.

 

23
Mar2013

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.

24
Jan2013

The date is January 24 and the time is somewhere in the early afternoon. As of the past few hours, not a single medium of mass transit traverses the city of Athens: workers at the city's Metro have been on strike since January 17. Today, eight days later, the Ministry of Transport has announced their civil conscription – an order, that is, for their forced return to work. In response, workers at Athens' Urban Transport Organisation (OASA) have called rolling 24-hour strikes in solidarity, while the workers at the Metro's Green Line (ISAP) and the Tram have followed suit.

26
Oct2012

It is impossible to predict exactly when history is about to take one of its turns, but it is entirely possible to feel swivels prior. For such change to actually happen, a critical mass is required; a mass of people convinced that change is necessary or — perhaps more often so — convinced or coerced to believe the existent is insufficient, therefore prepared to allow for such change to take place.

05
Oct2012

Mass transient is an ethnographic study of spaces of mass transit in Athens — and beyond: it is a study that seeks to reveal and to understand the ever-growing antagonisms and tensions in these quintessential spaces of the everyday as the crisis deepens. At this historical conjuncture, buses, trolleys and metro carriages become the primary public spaces: on the one hand moving around the ‘fallen angels’ of the bourgeois dream, and on the other, those swirling through the city undocumented, seeking survival. And on top of both, the drivers and inspectors, the ever-watching authority. Mass transient is an ethnographic study that aspires to trace the transition of society across the entire Greek territory as inscribed in the confines of the bus, the tram, the metro carriage. A close, meticulous reading of these spaces that will help us understand how the transitory flux of a society in turmoil becomes a galvanised reality; how a transient mass becomes critical.

 

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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...