There’s so much street art in Athens, some of it is beautiful. And you also see a lot of spray-painted tags or scribble-looking graffiti. It was interesting for me to see this since in Cape Town graffiti is illegal and the city makes an effort to eradicate it. Only approved murals are allowed. That’s not to say there isn’t any graffiti but in Athens, it’s all over the place even in the city and it’s the capital city of Greece so I was surprised. In this post, I will be looking at why street art is so popular in Athens and I will include a few photos of street art around the city.
Why is street art so popular in Athens
Firstly, street art has been a form of expression and resistance in Greece since the country’s dictatorship in the 1960s and 1970s. This tradition continued during the economic crisis of the late 2000s, when many artists used street art to comment on political and social issues.
Read more: https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/photography/athens-greece-graffiti-city-street-art-financial-crisis-a7947506.html
Secondly, the city of Athens seems to be relatively tolerant of street art, with many abandoned buildings and walls serving as canvases for artists to display their work. The municipality has also launched initiatives to promote street art as a way of beautifying public spaces and revitalizing neglected neighborhoods.
Lastly, Athens has become a destination for street artists from around the world, with several international festivals and events taking place in the city each year. These events provide a platform for artists to showcase their work, collaborate with local artists, and engage with the city’s urban landscape. When I visited back in May 2022 there was an exhibition of the moon “Museum of the Moon” is a touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram. Measuring seven meters in diameter, the moon features 120 dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface. At an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each centimeter of the internally lit spherical sculpture represents 5km of the moon’s surface” Source: https://www.2022.adaf.gr/program/moon/ This exhibition was part of the Athens Digital Arts Festival.
The Grafitti problem
There’s lots of tagging and graffiti which most people would see as scribbles. The downside of it is that it’s not always aesthetically appealing. The upside is that young people who are starting out in the street art world often start with tagging and then learn how to create stunning murals as a result. I understand why people are frustrated with people who tag over murals. But overall I tend to side with the taggers in a way. They are expressing themselves. It’s a form of civil disobedience and I’ve always loved how street art allows anyone to see it. It’s not contained in traditional art galleries where some people might feel uncomfortable entering.
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