Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Scenery at Art School on Piraeus Street

At the Art school, there can be found anytime various tones ranging from a rapsody of blue to the black of definance. There is upheaval but also something more moribund. Here graffiti can be read along the walls of former factory halls, now converted into exhibition spaces and buildings used for various art classes and ateliers. 


Self portrait besides something beautiful to open up the red door

When thinking of typical portraits as marked by hair style and colour, the defiant look is transformed into a glance intended to seduce. It means entering that door would be to allow a game to be played with one's mind. Seduction is more than an art. It is also the method deployed after people have become disillusioned since the world appears to be completely indifferent to what they feel, think and say. At least, this is the core of the thesis by the philosopher Baudrillard.

Something else is expressed when confronted by artificial materials - Kunststoff. Such an art can make the round and be plastered all over walls and doors as if Europe enters a bad imitation of Hollywood, in order to decry 'on the sunny side of the street' as being the bad side. It would be the side of the street on which cafes never strive while on the other side no matter how bad the weather, those shops continue. How is that to be explained? Illiterate inhabitants of cities would call it the fortune of living in the shade. But that is not really a good explanation. Rather the usual, normal and expected is contradicted by doing something contrary to everything. That then has a secret appeal.  At least the woman painted onto that wall seems to look into the scene with penetrating eyes. If anything, she is so typical as if images are no longer fleeting moments but fixtures like a chandelier hanging from the ceiling. But if meant to remain for some time, that then is the powerful illusion. And everyone knows support for such a fixture will be withdrawn even before age can turn a corner of this face now remaining in memory just like a mask not hanging but in having been blazed in this rapsody of blue.


But while the blue and red converge, they fade into the background while the dominant colour becomes black not due to working in some mine, but in having been going through all the streets alone, in the dark, in the absence of a feeling to belong somewhere.


On the helmet of the man is written 'attention': be careful not to lose yourself in the lust for desire. Thus only one exception is to be made out in the crowd of bewildered persons by this call to be cautious. For amidst all these wondering heads, there lies a naked woman. Is she to be blamed for getting lost or is she emblematic for the loss of erotic power? It cannot be said all is well when everything ends in a bad dream. So what goes on in the heads of many is depicted again as a sad story about what happens once man and woman are separated for too long a time. For the worst thing to happen is they no longer remember what it was to feel a warm embrace, a kiss or even sense some soft eyes lingering on one's own face as if a touch by a sensitive finger. Instead black figures appear everywhere to steal the show. The people in between the man with the helmet shouting 'attention' and the naked woman seem to crowd out the main actors. They just frame the scene on the left and on the right.

These then are imagined positions when no one takes anything anymore for granted, but the common language having become one of loneliness. No colours enter the space. Once 'black and white' are a part of the picture embracing everything like a nebulous frame, then everything can happen.

Implied is in a city that human beings can become mere shadows of themselves. They hardly exist or if at all then only briefly before they disappear completely in their own shadows. That is the meaning of being engulfed completely by pessimistic thoughts and doubts which drag one down rather than setting the mind free to think in other terms than the mere given.

That darkness creeps at first over stairs and enters buildings but then it can suddendly grip everything as if there is a general mood or specific time frame. It is quite another transformation. Someone coming from New York says this scene reminds him of the eighties. As if some developments are anarchronistic. In Athens and Greece there is a lot of catching up to do. They never went through the student movement as did those living in Paris, Berlin or Berkeley. There was after all a military dictatorship ruling from 1967 to 1974. Ruling classes have since then another connotation. It is the established families which form the elite. Hence these images capture not only fleeting shadows of doubts cast against the wall. They manifest as well those images evoked from posters about construction workers with helmets high up when building sky scrapers. There was a time when almost every communal flat had one of these posters on one wall of the toilet.

Certain movements tried to do like wise to imitate the world of the workers and of the crowds heading daily towards work, but that remains at best an illusion who feel to be outside any productive framework. They participate differently in society set free anyhow to entertain the kids of information society. But these images are subversive. They creep first into the minds and then they seize power. Coup d'etat start off like that!



         "(to create) consciously spots of illegality against a world of legal injustice"


So then the portrait becomes a matter of self accusation. Gone is all frolic and the law is transformed into a positive need for lawlessness since everything linked officially to use of the law turns out to be injustice. That then is the condemnation of both the whole city and what political system governs it. That does not mean making a mockery of law, but plays with it to bring out that double meaning.

Black and White Graffiti

We went again to the Art School / Fine Arts University on Pireaeus street late in the evening, July 9. The guard at the main gate did not want to let us in. Still, we entered for a short while to take at least some snap shots.

To renew the setting, some famous graffiti artists have been invited to do a work in unison. What can be seen onhand of the photos (apologies for sometimes the poor quality, but they were taken in haste), is another display of graffiti as an art direction with many underlying tones in texture, use of colours (or absence thereof) and what can be called degree of dryness (as in the case of dry humour). If things are painted at the fringe of society, it is nearly like stabbing with a knife into thin air. Most of the time this appears to be an act in vain. No wonder. Love evaporates at the fringes and disappears into the cool night bringing relief to what was a hot summer day.




The dancers in the middle, surrounded by a man with bowler hat and business case is a striking image. It does remind of the Surrealist technique to create movement by non moving figures. Ths was especially used by Magritte, if one can recall his one painting with one man reading a newspaper and who was apparently unmoved, although surrounded by women in the nude.


If this image can be associated with carrying money to the grave, then it is an apt metaphor for these times of economic crisis which has gripped Europe and Greece in particular. The colour green is usually linked to the US dollar. A contrast is created in the background by a colourful template above and behind on the wall behind the group. As such it gives a three dimensional effect.

Quite different is a single figure, in this case a woman in black and blue with the negative space filled out by her body. It creates altogether a powerful effect of lightness despite her being seated, but then as a lady who knows that life can be like a ball tossed up into the air. It may be the ball of Paris who wished to select the most beautiful woman, but according to mythology that ball could have been well an orange to be given to the winner: the selected woman. Choices are made always in life but they can also complicate things. One of the most interesting tales these days is an interview with Strauss Kahn on CNN. When asked about his sexual affairs with women, he stated it was his mistake to think he could separate his public role as head of the IMF and his private life. He did not say anything about being married but then some moralities allow for a certain digression in these matters. Yet this woman in blue does underline what can entice even the most powerful men to cross an invisible moral border and then they get sucked into an affair out of which there seems to be no escape. For things break even at the level of public appearance when naivity seems to be only defense left.


    Synchronic kiss

In the absence of music, silence becomes stillness. It is a moment when people do come together, and together they form a synchronic symphony which differs from striving towards harmony. It is not a black white synthesis. For this the patterns depicted speak another language. At the flicker of the eye which are symmetrical in both location and direction, they look towards the viewer while appearing to look at each other. This eye contact is a detail but an important one just as the arms signify an understanding as to the meaning of touch. The latter is said to bring about sober truth. Naturally a generalization has to be avoided. If lovers would confront each other only superficially and with stereo typical images, they would not be able to reproduce love as their own unique narrative. Hence the lovely distinction between man and woman with her hair in a knot and the dress of a different pattern to underline the fact that love has its own order to things. It emerges out of a pattern created by a sense of beauty and a spark of love.


Quite a different image is given by this masked woman adorned like Jesus was with a crown full of thorns. In association with blood, the paint drips down of what is not a human body, but a torso thereof. Like the sculpture can come alive, this figure can pass over to stone. Moved and unmoved are the perplexing elements whenever pain is responded to by a political language without having identified as of yet the core of the problem. Only the need to wear a mask suggests that this recollects what demonstrators do. Thus it appears as if a conflict as well between the Christian past based on sacrifice for the sake of humanity by which very often Jesus is depicted, and the political outcome of securalization as something putting into doubt the time link between the ancient past and the present. Often youth demonstrating in the streets of Athens would express both agony of not being understood by the elderly and well established people who make no space for them and rage at this appearance of a society which does not wish to embrace a much needed change. An apparent wisdom takes this further and just mentions cutting wages is easy, but structural reforms that much harder. The political dealiy game begins precisely there. Those wishing changes are often at the forefront of blocking those intended to bring about not a relief to those in pain the most, but adds to that pain. In an apparent contradiction within this complicated world made up of so many different people, including some very crafty ones compared to those who seem unable to help themselves, many go by instinct, so it appears, into a mode filled with political gestures. It leaves the onlooker just wondering as to who is wearing a mask, who not.

The shadow in the picture was not intended, but shown since it does underline these photos of the graffiti works was taken in a haste. The guard kept urging to leave. He was growling like an angry dog, more upset by someone not listening really to his demand to leave immediately and thus being questioned in his authority. It is always like that once delegated to live in the shadow of someone else. As to the graffiti itself, well the depicted figures are nice. Like Russian dolls of all sizes they cue up to stare in one direction. Uniformity is the result of conformity.


     Jan Brüggemeier

With Jan standing in front of another graffiti, it can give a sense of the proportion with an exceptional art work leaving everyone who has not seen this show at the Art School wondering if this overall composition works? There is definite a need to return once again during day time, in order to see how it looks like when everything is accessible and the guardman not upset for taking too long to leave.

The photos were taken on 9.7.2013

Hatto Fischer



Re-visit on July 3, 2014


     Close to the entrance, up high a symbolic figure


    Looking back to the entrance to the school, a most appropriate graffiti as comment to the ongoing world football competition in Brazil June - July 2014



     Looking around with chimney as landmark of industrial heritage



     Close-up of abstract in yellow


  Embodiment of centrifuge and body fix in politics


  Some figures never make it to become soldiers, and there is a fix for everything


   To bedevil details in a former industrial site is almost a compulsion to forget


          If business turns out to be this, then a zebra would not be far away



Understanding what this graffiti says at the corner close to the entrance is like catching a wave made by a dragon like creature leaping with its tail up, but not quite to underline this peculiar face leaving no doubt from where it came from.


    Mutations continue once the imagination is free to explore the universe


A graphic designer would not have this mind set to depict a wounded figure to be an emblem for some kind of enlightenment even when there was no direct hit to take notice of as would be the case if some military operation was involved to start something like a war. Interestingly enough the figure on the far left indicates all is over since he smiles while showing the 'V'-sign for victory. It reminds of what Michel Foucault said: "you only speak with the other once you have no longer a victory necessary." Naturally a drunkard, admittedly rare in this metropole of Athens, would not combine the two different signs given by these two figures. Rather he would stumble some words and leave by a non existing door as if the pavement could swallow up all dreams and cast shadows.

Photos and Text by Hatto Fischer

Athens 19.7.2014



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