Writer Kimberly Bradley with her daughter Iona
Do you think a real gentrification can happen in the area of Metaxourgeio/Keramikos?
If I think long-term, I can only answer yes. But before this can happen, so many economic, political, and cultural-capital and social-capital factors have to shift. Right now and in the near future, things don’t look so good: Greece is now in its sixth year of crisis, and the EU’s southern countries (I hate using the term “pigs”; I’d rather use the term “gips,” which means “plaster” in German, something much more solid and less derogatory than swine!) are in dire straits. Yet at the same time, looking globally, inner cities around the world have and continue to experience the kind of valuation that comes when culture leads the way. Here in Germany, one hears (and reads, in major newspapers) that “Athens is the new Berlin” and I know of more than a few non-Greeks who are so excited by the energy of the city’s art and music scenes that they’ve moved there, either temporarily or permanently. Berlin’s eastern center was a ruin 20 years ago (granted, it also had the backing of West Germany’s mammoth economy) and in part was rebuilt with the ideas and capital of people coming from all over the world (to this day, most of my friends earn their money elsewhere, but live here). Another question: what is gentrification? Does it mean a healthy, mixed-income and mixed-purpose neighborhood minus the brothels and drugs and crime, or does it mean endless commerce and cheap bars, like the loud parts of Gazi? These problems are a long way off, but must be taken into consideration. Greece’s byzantine bureaucracies and structures need to change. It has to become easier for young people with ideas to start companies, launch ideas, make things happen.
Do you think artistic production can buzz in a both divided and extremely financially ridden community?
Yes, absolutely ... there already is a palpable buzz in Athens’ art scene, a kind of DIY, make-it-happen-despite-the-crap tenacity that I still find astonishing. The situation offers in many ways the friction and adversity that art production feeds off of. But as a frequent visitor, not a resident, I am not witness to the day-to-day struggles in Athens. If production only involves struggle, even the best of artists grow fatigued, and search for their dreams elsewhere. I asked a friend who recently left Athens for London whether she missed living in Athens. “Every day,” she answered. “But I knew if I stayed, I wouldn’t be an artist anymore. I’d only be an activist.”