Pedestrian gauntlet

One afternoon, we were stopped in Kifissia by a American couple asking directions. Panic-stricken, they craned their necks out of the car and asked: «How do we get to E75?» Meanwhile, a chorus of car horns from behind pestered them to move on. We wondered whether E75 was a department store selling electronic goods or a courier service until we were handed a map of the Athenian suburbs – E75 was the land-planning coordinates for the area they were looking for! Looking for E75 in Kifissia is as surreal as losing your way in Manhattan. There are cities where it is impossible to get lost as they have been designed for people with no sense of direction whatsoever. And there are others where you can never find your way, there is no signposting, and you’re a hero if you make it to the national highway. We all know that Athens belongs to the latter category. The team of architects who represented Greece at this year’s Biennale in Venice dared to present this «deformity» as art. Shorn of the frills of grand Olympic visions, Athens saw itself as slums, concrete jungles and dead ends. But apart from the viewpoint of art – which heals by applying skepticism and humor – there is also the experience of everyday life: ditches to fall into, non-existent sidewalks, fines for non-use of pedestrian crossings. And this is where surrealism reaches its peak. A legislator should try braving a pedestrian crossing before imposing penalties for their non-use, as he will realize that Greek drivers have no grasp of such a term.