I traveled to Greece earlier this month for Eid al-Adha break. I had two long layovers in Athens which allowed me to visit the Acropolis. I loved it so much I visited many of the historical sites twice. My ticket to the see the Parthenon also gave me the opportunity to visit the Ancient Agora and the Roman Agora. During my first layover in Athens I spent a great deal of time in the latter and coincidentally became part of a Tino Sehgal art exhibit. From what I understand his work focuses on situational interactions between actors and willing participants. I know, this sounds a bit vague, however, it is unlike describing any type of art exhibit I've ever witnessed or been a part of. I'll try to explain. When I entered the Roman Agora a little girl approached me and asked me if I wanted to participate in a Tino Seghal art exhibit. I didn't know who Sehgal was or how it would work, but agreed to partake. The little girl then asked me, "what is progress?" I was speechless. That is not a question people face on any given day or hear from an 11 year-old. I honestly cannot remember what I said exactly, yet I know it was incoherent and non-specific. The littler girl introduced me to another member of the exhibit and we talked about why I was in Greece, I told her about my plans to visit the Jewish Museum in Thessaloniki and in order to practice reading documents in the Ladino language. My guide introduced me to another actor. We also spoke more about my travel plans. He referenced Thessaloniki's mayor who was recently sworn in wearing the Star of David. He did so to show his solidarity with the last remaining Jews in the city and to defy the conservatism of city councilors who are members of the Golden Dawn party (which many consider to be neo-Nazi). He then introduced me to the final guide in the exhibit who told me about her experiences in high school and how one teacher made a huge difference in her life. After we shook hands I sat down and wrote in my journal. I looked around at the Agora imagining the hustle and bustle of centuries past. When I wasn't looking back, I thought about progress and what it means to look forward.
|Another view from the Acropolis. I'm realizing that I did not take any pictures of the Roman Agora.|