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
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.