Archaiologikoi Dialogoi 2016 /Lesvos

FRIDAY, 15-4- 2016

Nowadays, the island of Mytilene can be characterized as “Ravaged shore” culminating in the agreement between the European Union and Turkey, the detention centers and the deportations.

I think about the ground as a fertile, hospitable ground that is formed through the inflows and outflows of people who come from other lands, refugees. What are the traces? I think about the bodies of the people who arrive, the camps that are constructed to house the refugees, the camp of Moria, the border guards of Frontex, the people who died and were received by this ground. A contradictory, heartbreaking, controversial and unstable ground.

Many children arrived already dead at this ground, as they drowned while trying to make this journey. It is said that 7,911 children have drowned in the Aegean Sea, because children are more vulnerable. Under these circumstances we wonder “Who is precious as a human being? Which lives are valuable as lives? And ultimately what makes a life worthy of suffering?” (Butler)

I wonder if these losses can transform us, if they can transform Europe and those who start the wars.

Lakan says that “the first symbol in which we recognize humanity in its vestigial traces is the sepulture, and the intermediary of death can be recognized in every relation in which man comes to the life of his history.” J (Lacan Ecrits p. 319)

Antigone addressed to her sister Ismene, tells her: “Do not worry, you live. My life (soul) has been dead for a long time now so as to help the dead” (Antigone by Sophocles 559-562)

Who cares about these dead people? About these dead children?

What are the feelings of their parents? Grief, fear, anxiety, anger. These people experienced great losses and much suffering. Their loss is not considered worthy of causing anguish or mourning. Many children remain unburied.

However, they have a name, a face, a family, their own story. We wonder how loss is experienced when certain lives are not even considered as human lives.

In the Gulf war, in Iraq, 200,000 children were killed. It is important to oppose the fact that these lives are more vulnerable than others, and the loss of these lives is not considered worthy of causing pain.

The recognition of this loss is not made public, the lament seems almost forbidden for these children. There is no space and time for that.

During this visit we looked for the traces on the ground of Mytilene, contemporary monuments associated with children who were lost during their journey to Europe, in a plot at Kato Tritos village.

I carried with me in Lesvos the photographs from the offerings in Vravrona that reflect the worship of Artemis as the goddess of nature, protector of children and small animals. Artemis made sure there was a place for the strangers, protected the ability to assimilate the different, the other. (Jean Pierre Vernant)

Eleni Tzirtzilaki Nomadic Architecture