Athens – The city of graffiti


Late November night, you can almost feel cold coming. Lucky me, I’m packing my stuff to be gone again. This time I’m heading south where hopefully it is still warm. Another open chapter is about to be filled with new names and faces. You cannot escape from yourself no matter how far you go. I knew that forever, that’s how I learn and discover something new about myself. Those faces and venues I met on the road, they are like a mirror, showing me all the time how far I have gone and how far I can get. And they are about to help me once more in my efforts. Together with a dear friend, we will break the spell of traveling alone. You watch my back and I`ll watch yours, we are the team, that`s how it goes. It took a few hours bus ride and a pleasant flight to get us there. The night of our arrival the local center square, crossing streets with all those lights and pre-Christmas mood made the city look like a Christmas tree. We went with the flow of people towards the Athena Street. I shook just a few hands at our hotel, trying to remember their names. Upstairs back in my room I had the most amazing view: Acropolis shining in the night, I thought I can touch it with my bare hands. We started our play at the roof, the very next day with all those friendly faces, day by day, we were cruising down the streets trying to get into the city’s veins. I was never fond of capitals and big cities but this was something else: urban style, people going by, graffiti on the walls and musicians playing different instruments here and there. Walking along fancy shops under the tiny tangerine trees it`s the orange color that glows, dominating and reflecting your eyes, maybe some park aside with olive trees as a silent reminder of that green olive eyes that I have left behind. Exploring the city in all its glory during the daylight we took a walk in some neighborhoods a little bit further.


We entered the part called Exarchia and heard the story about the park that people wanted to preserve. The street artists driven by political, economic and artistic or whatever reasons once started their silent expression on the walls, trash cans, University blocks and sidewalks to deliver a message to the outer world. Some of them were totally irrelevant or at least I thought so, some unique masterpieces of art and some just a text to read but as powerful as good whip, in all the colors of the rainbow, you name it, you have it there. Walking from one to another we tried to reveal what was the story behind, the rebel urge of somebody`s hand. That brought me again to the eternal question: graffiti – art or vandalism? I remember one graffiti saying: “I write because nobody listens”. And just maybe the visual element of the message delivered empowers it more, giving it different dimension, preserving it deeply in our sub-consciousness with a chance to come up on the surface again. I also prefer to write down because where I come from most people do not listen just jump with a reply, conclusion or judgment. Maybe some graffiti are in inappropriate places, offensive, with explicit message and can be considered as vandalism. I don`t know, I cannot tell, cause I didn`t see it as such or it was again my artistic point of view, wherever I go, wherever I lay my eyes on.


I got back home with a smile and nice memories. Going back again over the photos evoked the same questions but with different answers. Well that’s the freedom of the art but also the basic necessity to apply, change and improve our guiding parameters whenever we exchange experiences with the others, whenever we learn and accept something new and different.

Goran Galabov

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