Sunday, January 14, 2018
Graffiti can inspire a great deal of debate and certainly emotion, but this post is not about that. I am no fan of graffiti, nor do I consider it art. I consider it a sign of defiance and here in Athens there are masterful works of defiance!
While I am no expert on the subject, the amount of graffiti found in a society can often be linked to the discontent of the people and Greece has gone through a terrible period over the last few years when decades of poor governance resulted in the near collapse of the modern Greek economy and threatened their status in the European Union. The people lost pensions, jobs and in some cases their lives. Graffiti is a way to protest that gives voice to those who have no standing, lack economic or social means to intervene in the public debate, need a platform from which to scream and wish to do so without retribution.
The graffiti in Athens screams out from every corner that the people here are or have been through very tough times.
Some rather majestic examples (including some that appear closer to art than opposition and rebellion) are below.
The street below is not atypical, although a local mentioned to me that this area is highly volatile still (and there are plenty of armed police on the streets in riot gear, despite the quiet in the area).
I can’t read any of this but this piece below looks to be more advertising than political statement, and this is easy to look at. Another piece just down the street from this one was a beautiful piece of art for a writing store, of a fountain pen on paper with the store name on it. I didn’t take a picture because, despite its beauty, it clearly wasn’t graffiti, it was advertising.
Again, below is a typical street in this area where most storefronts have been marked up with something. Sometimes you see the work repeated (suggesting true marketing of a movement or idea), but most appear random markings to my eye.
Finally we see this grouping. It caught my eye, because the resistance idea is very clear in the image, and this area (just North) had plenty of police stationed in riot gear suggesting there is a great deal of discontent in this part of Athens.