Urban planning for children at the Megaron

«What don’t you like about Athens?» Little hands rise into the air. A class of junior high school pupils sit cross-legged along with two trained professionals discussing architecture and city planning in their own youthful manner. In the foyer of Athens Concert Hall, currently hosting Miquel Navarro’s «Under the Moon II,» the room quickly fills up with children’s voices. A little boy stands up – boisterously: «Traffic exhaust,» he exclaims. The rest of the class follows, expressing modern-day truths in from an endless list. «Extremely ugly blocks of flats,» «Narrow sidewalks,» «No space for cycling,» «Not enough gardens.» Right next to the restless group, a 50-square-meter surface holding 500 metal objects (cubes, cylinders and pyramids of various sizes) awaits the children’s attention. Following interactive presentations of works by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Constantin Brancusi, the Megaron Plus is again collaborating with the Pompidou Center in Paris, showcasing a traveling exhibition by Navarro. Urged by the French museum, the Spanish artist developed a toy sculpture in 1994, based on a previous work of his, «Under the Moon,» a ceramic view of the city of Valencia. The installation’s aim is to familiarize children with the complexity of urban life. Navarro’s artwork-exhibition-game is a work in progress. It is the intervention by the children themselves that defines it and its temporary state, highlighting the countless shapes it may acquire, depending on the age, background, curiosity and interests of those who handle it. Divided into groups, the children take over the urban planning of Navarro’s dream city. Naturally, swimming pools, playgrounds and amusement parks become the neighborhood’s most popular elements. At the same time, trees, parks and rivers acquire an equally popular status in this imaginary city. According to Vincent Poussou, head of the Pompidou Center’s educational programs, the installation is an example of a contemporary work of art in search of the public’s active participation. Besides bringing children closer to the notion of shape, structure and perspective, Navarro’s work places them at the center of a creative, artistic process. «The best way to sensitize children to art is not to teach them what good art is but to allow them to take part in its creation,» said Poussou at a recent press conference at the Athens Concert Hall. Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali & Vas. Sofias, tel 210.728.2333. «Under the Moon II,» runs to March 23. Admission is free of charge. School groups and individual visits can be arranged by telephone at 210.7282733. For more information, go to www. megaron. gr.