These digital photographs were taken in the summer of 2007, throughout Athens, Thessaloniki, Nauplio, Aegina, and Paros, Greece. I went to Greece to study contemporary theatre, but I was soon drawn to the ever-present graffiti, drawn for a variety of purposes: professing political expression, tagging a name, drawing whimsical cartoons, or creating truly beautiful art pieces for the urban (or not-so-urban) landscape.
The many anarchist signs and communist posters reflect the strong presence of both these parties in Greece, especially among young people. The Greek government is a parliamentary democracy, with the center-right New Democracy party currently in power. Both communist and anarchist groups have been protesting the privitization of Greek universities (Greece is the only country in the EU with solely public higher education), as well as police brutality, which they have each run into in the past year. A video circulating this summer showed a police man beating two Albanian prisoners, and immediately after students took to the streets in Thessaloniki. The activism of these Greek students was inspiring, and it forced me to question the current general American student political complacency.
The anti-Nazi and anti-Fascist graffiti may be in response to the military junta which took over the Greek government from 1967-1974.
The others are the work of anonymous street artists. Graffiti and urban art covered nearly every available surface in the Greek cities and towns I visited. There was no urge to clean it; although there may be a Greek law against it, it was clearly not carried out. Rather than dirty trespassing, I began to see this art as a fundamental part of the country’s modern landscape. Sometimes rude and sometimes funny, sometimes political and sometimes aesthetic, these pieces are part of Greece’s history as much as the relics of its more famous archaeological record.