The global pandemic has impacted every aspect of our lives, reconfiguring how we relate to both physical space and our cities. In these unprecedented times, a global world was revealed to us providing boundless access to communication and information from the seclusion of our homes. By contrast, our physical realm was reduced to the confines of our cities, often to the limits of our neighbourhoods, thus turning our focus towards the local, the everyday and the ordinary. Cities are resilient, multifaceted and vivid entities of humans and places that have resisted and recovered from extreme situations and serious crises in the past. As unique, experiential loci, cities are inextricably linked to their histories and local cultures -material and immaterial- and to their various spatial, social and cultural identities. These identities are inscribed in the formation of the city itself, in its local communities, in artistic expression, in customs and rituals. They are manifested in every kind of spatial activity and performance event placed within the urban environment.
The city as a physical, anthropogenic, symbolic and imaginary cultural entity functions as a living archive of
everyday, social, cultural and artistic performance. As an open-ended, all-encompassing archive, it involves all
dimensions of time (past, present and future) and space (spatial experiences and collective actions). Cities are living archives in constant transformation, offering alternative readings and mappings of the seen and the unseen. Places and sites, narrations and stories become site-specific dramaturgies that conflate the cities’ past and present. We will use these open, performative archives of our common spaces to rethink our cities and human connectedness that stems from our physical environment; we will follow the threads of local knowledge and culture to (re)discover new paths of creativity, inspiration and interpretation.
Within this context, the Greek Student Exhibition aspires to draw a performative mapping of the four historical cities where the participating schools are based. With their distinct multiple layers and contesting histories, the cities emerge in their successive transformations. In southern Greece, lies Nafplio with its neoclassical architecture; right at the centre, Athens is an ancient palimpsest city in constant transformation and flow; up north lies multicultural Thessaloniki and further to the west, Florina, a border city of rich contrasts. These four cities will provide a general spatial, narrative and dramaturgical framework: our creative process will draw inspiration from the cities’ special geopolitical position and climate, their historical sites and other sites of remembrance, their built environment, outdoor and public spaces, literary narratives, urban myths and personal stories shared by local inhabitants, artists and communities.
The pandemic experience changed our perception and our relationship to space and our cities, offering new perspectives with regard to both the micro- and the macroscale, as well as to their material and immaterial attributes. We intend to use this rare instance of transformation with resilience and creativity, inscribing the richness and diversity of spatial experiences in the living performative archives of our cities.