In October 2019, we invited students to join us on an explorative odyssey, a journey by train, ship and on foot – to go to, through, around and into Athens. Coming from Switzerland, we slowly approached Athens and mingled among the locals until we became their personal assistants accompanying them in their everyday lives.
The trip from Zurich to Athens took almost 48 hours and followed a long tradition of slow traveling as a form of education. While spending time together on train and boat we not only followed the footsteps of students and architects who travelled before us, we also crossed paths with people who are trying to get into Europe reluctantly and in complete anonymity. It is where all these trajectories intersect and start to overlap, where NEWROPE begins.
Crossing the Mediterranean Sea (Photo Loïc Godon)
Every evening we met at Communitism (Facebook Link), our Headquarter Space for the week.This project in the Metaxourgeio neighbourhood of Athens seeks to restore dilapidated buildings for community use.
Communitism has already taken over a grand but threatened neo-classical building with the landlord’s permission for use as an artistic and social center (Photo Sophia Uribe Gomez)
Starting the first days on the roof terrace of Hotel Orion, we were guided through Exarchia, across Victoria square, the historical center and the harbor of Piraeus by local experts on thematic walks.
Architect Constantina Theodorou of the National University of Athens and Co-Hab Athens guided us through Exarcheia. In addition to its long tradition of activism, the neighbourhood exemplifies the development of the Polykatoikia typology. (Photo Charlotte Schaeben)
“Europe reproduces itself in local daily routines and scripts of practices that build relations between people and people and things. The taxi-driver drives the taxi, the server keeps a website running, the barista orders new espresso from the retailer in the port, the fisherman is fishing according EU catch quota of tuna, the architect hires a contractor that brings a crane, the homeless begs for money and collects things to build a shelter, the kitchen chef refills the fridge with fresh products from the market, the musician records a song in a studio with software on a computer, the researcher controls the vacuum that keeps the microbes in the lab and and the baker bakes a daily bread.
Accompanying these Every-day experts means to experience the situations, to become an active part of those networks of micro practices and to engage with your hands, heads and hearts and to observe, reflect and note at the same time. Sometimes routines fail, action scrips render useless and new practices need to appear. Greece and Athens have gone to period of disruptions and most people needed to come up with alternatives. Hence Newrope might appear in: ’What people do, what people know and the things people make and use.‘ (Spradley) Be curious and discover the practices, routines and things involved.” (Text by Ben Pohl)
Béla woke up at 4h in the morning to help Yannis selling Koulouri, the traditional greek pastry. Since many years, Yannis and his wife run a kiosk in front to the entrance of the national garden.
The format of documentation of the seminar week were individual mobile phone video diaries of 1 minutes per day to reflect on Newrope in Athens. Each student produced 5 videos of 60 seconds each during the course of the week. For the final performance we collectively produced a 15 minute. Each one of them showed the one for him or her most meaningful minute. For this, they chose the setting within Communitism themselves and one after the other handed over a portable projector. By choosing different rooms, sizes and positions, the screening became a very divers spatial experience including the whole building.
Final Performance: Screening of the 1 minutes at Communitism