This research takes me to a range of places throughout Europe, some easier to get to than others. This trip began with a glitch in the last place that I was expecting one – Scotland. When I booked my flight to Tirana, I had the choice of flying from Aberdeen (which would involve changing airports in London, from Heathrow to Gatwick) or from Edinburgh direct to London Gatwick and then on to Tirana. I chose the latter, because I would rather schlep my bags to Edinburgh by train than across London during rush hour.
The French, however, had other plans for me. When I arrived at Edinburgh Airport, I was told that my flight to Gatwick was delayed – because of strikes in France – and I would have to fly to Heathrow and change airports, otherwise I would miss my connection. The ticket agent said that it would be easy-peasy: I would be greeted at the gate in Heathrow by a swarm of gate agents, who would be handing out bus transfer tickets to all of us in need. The reality, however, turnout out to be somewhat different, as I had to find my way up three floors to get a voucher, down three floors to get a ticket, and then to the bus. There were no gate agents in sight. At the end of the day, I made it to Tirana on time, a bit worse for the wear after 13 hours in transit, but, no harm, no foul.
It is only fitting, then, that the next leg of the journey should also be scuppered by strikes – this time in Istanbul. I am supposed to be flying from Tirana to Prishtina right now – via Istanbul (yes, it is that indirect), but someone is on strike (the airline, the airport, the entire country – who knows, I don’t have any information in the wifi-less Tirana airport), so my flight to Istanbul was canceled.
The art historian in me can only think of the irony. The demonstrators in Gezi Park are (were – at the time of writing I understand that they have been removed) demonstrating (among other things) the destruction of a city park to make way for a commercial center and shopping mall. Many of the artists that I write about also used (artistic) performance to protest the commercialization of art. So in trying to write about one protest against market forces, my research is hampered by another such protest.
I am scheduled to be on the same flight to Prishtina via Istanbul tomorrow, but whether that flight will take off or not, who knows. Just like performance art, the outcome is uncertain.