In a de-localized world does locality still have relevance? Can people’s stories resonate beyond their own limited geographies and have significance for people beyond? Can we listen and learn from each other? Under what circumstances can a fluid community be defined and what tools should we use to do so? Finally, can the visual arts provide a useful context for extrapolating these stories? locus athens’ community arts project, Aigaleo City, aims to look into some of these questions and provide some tentative suggestions and answers.
Aigaleo is a Western suburb of Athens, Greece. From an agricultural and industrial area, it was first inhabited, and slowly urbanized by immigrants from Asia Minor, Pontos and Assyria in the late 1920’s. Aigaleo was deeply multicultural from its inception. Months of intensive research, discussion and enriching exchanges with local actors (community members, historians, artists, musicians and people involved in local education) led to an understanding of the area’s complex history and the formulation of a possible narrative. Aigaleo City therefore follows a series of strands through which it attempts to come to terms both with the contemporary city and its history. The project hopes to create a fertile cross-germination between Aigaleo and other areas of Athens.
Aigaleo City is based on a series of collaborations: an archaeologist, a group of architects, a film director, an artist, a website – using different media and modes they will tell different stories and try to define the complex web of existences that underlie a city. Some of the project’s interventions are ephemeral some hope to leave more permanent traces.
Aigaleo City kicks off with a blog – city guide hosted by the website popaganda. Next on, a walk covering the route of the Ancient Holy Way that leads to Elefsina will trace the past onto Aigaleo’s tightly knit neighborhoods of small-scale housing. Followed on by three children’s workshops that will tie in traditional techniques with technology and an architectural proposal for the reinvigoration of a section of Aigaleo’s public space. Aigaleo City will close with a short film about Aigaleo’s disparate communities.
Aigaleo City is the second Community Project for 2014 that is implemented in Athens in the context of NEON’s initiative to bring art projects in the city’s neighborhoods. The Community Projects are based on the participation of residents, groups and artists from Athenian neighborhoods. These Projects are a vital field of artistic activity, through which artists, alongside with citizens, highlight the issues that concern these local communities.