Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do



    "R- evol  - ution" with 'love' in reverse                              Athens Feb. 2014

These days are calling for a revolution. The youth took to the streets to protest against a corrupt elite, government, system...Different names are given to what hurts, causes pain, casts shadows especially upon the future and does not give sufficient space to grow up in. Yet despite all misgivings and misunderstandings, one thing should not be forgotten, for to get out of a 'vicious cycle' - and what is the dominant feature of these times, if not various forms of revenge - one needs to 'cut through all the shit' by showing simply love. That then constitutes a true revolution.


              "Now you are mine"                                 Athens Feb. 2014

However, this love should not be possessive by seeking to appropriate the 'other' as if a kind of land to be seized and declared as being in need of our protection since 'mine' or 'ours!'. But if in public space is to materialize a new 'theory of love', then this space will be in need of quite different qualities as to what defined an made up until now 'public spaces'. What has happened to 'publicness' needs to be understood. For once political concepts have been lost or else were displaced by positions declaring everything to be either too complex to be explained or else a mere illusion which does not need any explanation, then 'politics' in the rational sense to allow for policy discussions makes no longer sense. Moreover what complicates the situation is that once rational discourse have been replaced by mere convictions in belief systems, stand-offs and all kinds of skirmishes transforms everything into mad confusion, stubborness, shouts, wild accusations etc. until altogether people turn away from politics out of disgust and fear. It makes it  all the harder to realize meaningful discussions in public space. Instead viewpoints are expressed in such a forceful way without reflecting upon the fact that they are themselves a mere outcome of prejudices which have been converted into absolute convictions. To regain political concepts, and democracy itself is surely one of the most important ones, not merely 'law and reason' have be put anew into relationship with the demand for a just society, but a new theory of love is needed.

The difference of love in the 21st century to the Romantic version could not be greater. While the latter follows a tradition since the Middle Ages, and meant by this is the pattern of the lonely lover, poet, artist and anarchist who all end up to be eventually outsiders to society, the former seeks to understand love for people as a way to perceive means to question power for the sake of equality between people and especially between man and woman. It includes as well a love for a city, or the place where one lives, works and experiences daily life in its varied shapes and forms as brought about by many people interacting.

Interestingly enough, Athens is considered by many to be an ugly city, even though it has some very interesting pockets of astonishing beauty. Thus to let this city bloom a new kind of love for this city is needed. That love has not yet been fully articulated, but there are signs everywhere of its existence. It may suggest a wish to turn around the ugliness, so that some positive developments can happen. Yet care needs to be taken whenever politicians seize upon 'aesthetics' to justify interventions in the fabric of the city. Here some lessons need to be learned from Jean Pierre Faye who pointed out that the reactionary forces set in after the French Revolution, once there was created a health police and 'vandals' became a new term as both justified a cracking down of unruly persons who would not ascribe to the continuity of the old order in the new context. Restoration and restauration of power go along with efforts to undo changes before they can threaten the real power behind the old and new order.

So there are signs of love in Athens to be discovered in the streets!


                 Heart painted on pavement            Dafnomili Feb. 2014

What is meant by love for the city? The story of a city can only be told once nuances of daily life are understood, and this in such a way, that current life can be retold to make sense to future generations and visitors alike. It makes love into an unity of perception. Not everything may be noticed right away, but love allows for that lingering doubt and therefore will motivate to notice details which do matter in the long run. When one returns later to that love, and more often not to circumvent the failure to realize that love but to learn out of the mistakes made, then such learning takes place which allows to get to know better the force of love. This Life Long Learning, which Ana Magraner calls 'Live Long Love' is like the very act of graffiti being painted over - an act which says something about the different layers of experience which make up the city once love becomes an integral part of the experiences made in that city.



            "Kalimera - Good Morning"                                  Feb. 18, 2014

Since Valentine's day had just passed on Feb. 14th, it might be a possible linkage to that, but this lovely note with the heart went up only after that day had passed. Rather it seems to reflect a tender side of someone, who wishes to affirm love openly and every day!



             No comment                                              Feb. 22, 2014

What seems to be a persisting problem for many who live and visit Athens is that they seldom call it to be their 'home'. Now a home is not the land where you were born or grow up, nor the nation with its symbols like the flag, but rather what memories the others have of you. For the sum of those memories constitutes your home. Once people remember you then a continuity of identity is guaranteed. Thus the problem in Athens is linked to the loss of memory many people suffer under for then they no longer remember each other, and if at all, then only vaguely and typically, rather than in a differentiated manner which would be strong enough to call the other back to his or her true identity when at risk to go astray. This 'memory work' requires, however, a deeper perception of the other, so that not what one is at the moment is remembered, but these memories include glimpses into a potential self. The latter implies a truer self than the one being lived at the surface of daily trivial and repetitive routines fulfilled just to uphold an existence.

In moments of crisis, this ordinary life is severely challenged and therefore assumptions on which to be able to base a life upon, turn out suddenly to be mere presumptions i.e. false conclusions and bad generalizations. Once no further going reflections to tap into these different layers of experience are promoted, culturally speaking, it is quite often the case that feelings of regret for not having lived a full life end up fueling a highly vindictive spirit. It may explain already a bit the readiness for violent acts due to a hatred of the city and of life in general.

To reflect different layers of experience, Michel Foucault tried to develop an 'archaeology of knowledge'. Consequently when seeking to map the city and its graffiti in the Plaka area, immediately a different sense of time and location matters when seeking a further understanding of the responses one has as to what is being expressed on the walls.

As a matter of fact, it takes a search for truth, including a willingness to discover that 'other truth' to official versions, before this love for the city can be perceived. To attain such a perception, efforts must be undertaken to strenghten the dialectic between 'public space and public truth'. If not, then following description of Athens holds as expressed by Nicholas Anastasopoulos:

"The city's roads and walls, carry the traces of aging, the deacy and the imprints of violence from street battles. At the level of public debate the need for self-expression and decompression persists in conditions of suppression and finds space as graffiti on all surfaces. As an artist friend once said, 'the walls are most eloquent' in allowing an observer of the city to put together from the graffiti by stitching words, texts and decoding images, a fragmented narrative of Athens" (1)

Likewise, George Frangopoulos would argue in his reflection about graffiti in Athens and elsewhere, that someone like Banksy seeks to alter the defining power of neo Liberalism. While the latter makes the individual be responsible for the welfare of the 'Capital', and this is made evident by cutting down the welfare state, graffiti in public spaces seeks to readdress the collective responsibility for both the individual in the city and for the city as a whole. Redefining the concept of 'responsibility' would mean to adopt quite a different viewpoint with regards to graffiti. Rather than speaking about it only in terms of either political protest or vandalism, a much more differentiated viewpoint would allow for this search of truth and therefore take graffiti to be an expression of a culture in crisis because at risk to no longer search for love, including the love of truth and not as being practiced 'the love of the lie' or mendacity (Martin Jay).



       "Voulis Street" - one entry point into the Plaka                 Feb. 11, 2014

Graffiti in the Plaka is evidence of a search for a way out of a fake duality of private-public spaces. Close to archaeological sites and underneath the Acropolis, this display of colours is like an own world as has been and always shall be a Plaka: a kind of dream island in midst a sprawling city. Tourists come to this area, but also those in search of traces of the culture which existed in Ancient Greece. Then, there are several official buildings e.g. the Ministry of Culture has offices and a kindergarted located at the foot of the Acropolis, or else foundations, ICOM - NOSTRA and other organizations decided to locate their offices there.

To find in this area common space, one which is open to all, can prove to be difficult. Either space has been over commercialized, if not by bars and restaurants, than by boutiques; or else, private spaces exist behind walls, so that the only public space are the tiny streets through which many tourists try to find their way.

Many experiences made in the Plaka area dilute very quickly over time. As years go by, fresh impulses are needed to keep reviving this area. As for those who may end up living in the Plaka area, they do for a special reason and may put up with everything for only a short while e.g. four to five years. This applies especially those foreigners who take a Romantic fancy to dwell underneath the Acropolis but for whom the notion of living in the South vanishes as the energy of that idea is spend. Then another reality sets in. Above all residents are confronted by daily difficulties encoutered since mainly tourist orientated. It means that it is often quite inconvenient to get daily food supplies. For the entire area consists mainly of cafés and restaurants while much of the housing is in a state of flux i.e. in-between being eventually restored while having next door an abandoned house.

Still, the Plaka is a magic place for many people. Not only hidden corners and unexpected angles of houses with a view in between up to the Acropolis give an uplift, but the area seems to retain identities otherwise expelled from modern cities. This makes the Plaka into a kind of refuge from times in which Snowdon revealed the extent to which NSA in the United States has been spying on everyone? London is already known as a city where a camera exists at every corner, so that “Big Brother is watching over you”. Both Orwell and Huxley made predictions along those lines, only now it has become a reality. The Plaka seems to resist that trend, and therefore can be considered as an oasis of memory. This can be felt and experienced the moment the hustle and bustle of Athenian streets has been left behind and one starts to walk through streets lined by small houses. It makes the Plaka seem as if the last enclave for those who wish to breathe in another rhythm of time when in a city and yet tucked away from a fast moving traffic.

The Banksy Man of Plaka: Tom, the Irish man

For years Tom has been altering the facade; it is ongoing street gallery with lots of humour. Bin Laden appears as much as politicians whose name goes with a reputation not well earned, but of the very opposite. His street corner covers a left over plot of land presumably owned by the church, and which lets him dwell there as he extracts out of the news the latest comments in need to be made.



                                   Welcome to the Plaka - have a nice day!


     Painted slogans by Tom in Plaka                                           Feb. 11, 2014

     "I was wondering if I could not it myself, that what Bansky has been doing in New York. But I do not paint something for money, even though I would not mind to earn a bit on the side", says Tom and shows a nearly toothless grin.



     Tom with his painting imitating Banksy (2)

Near Nefeli Hotel, at the corner of Iperoustreet / Sotiros, not only a lot of tourists, but as well a lot of memories pass by. As to the latter, many of them have been thrown away into a trash can. Since 2005, the gravity of the earth has pulled attention away from Greece.

"Lately the winters have become rougher," says Tom, "even though they are still bearable when compared as to what those in Northern countries have to endure!" Tom added  it rains at the most ten days, and then at times quite heavy, but for the rest of the time the weather is just gorgeous.

Asked then what he wanted from life, his answer was full of wit and humour: “a rich, equally gorgeous man!” He gave us one of his nearly toothless smile.

A lot to say, if you endure so much! Behind every good poem, there is pain, assumes poetess Katerina Anghelaki Rooke.

Red wall


     "Ugly" - a word springs into sight                                      Plaka 11.2.2014

At this time of the year, February, it feels more like autumn leaves being swept by the wind down the street, past the red wall. It is almost empty and only a few people sit in the nearby ouzo place while the little fish on the wall was first noticed by Rafael standing beside me to take likewise photos.


             "Just a little fish"                                                  Plaka 11.2.2014

Something else is spun around as topic, for in which kind of house one would like to live: the old depleted one with the walls showing all the traces of who has lived there or the newly renovated one?


     "Abandoned"                                                                    Plaka 11.2.2014

The conclusion was, both would be a good choice, for living in the Plaka appears to be highly desirable, at least when coming from London and looking from this angle at prospects to live in quite another climate and culture. (3)

Many references are not so obvious; things can be easily over looked when walking through the Plaka. Nevertheless they sustain a life of its own. Like bare footed wonders, there are signs on almost every door.

What else is there to prove? Memories recall as if something shall come along again the coming sommer. In a place like the Plaka the expectation shall be the next time it will not be a Swedish, but an American girl. She took shall be looking for her dream boy, and when she shall depart two months later, then she will not really know, if she has been ever at this place.


               "A simple door"                                           Plaka Feb. 11, 2014

Graffiti asks, in turn, as to what has been inscribed in her memory? They may be remarks about the Plaka as a special part of the city of Athens. It is not about a dream world, but something enchants even when far away. Like the faint sound of church bells ringing unexpectedly during a week day.

moon struck, moon river

a vapour glides out

from underneath the door

to give one the shivers

while half way up, still in the shade,

the image climbs up higher and higher,

along that wall a bit red now as if in shame,

till the vision stands in full sunlight

able to remind about simple things

which matter over and again

like bare feet and talking heads

whenever lovers meet in secret

and unnoticed dark clouds

gather over their heads to curtail

the light beam to what

is next in line after love

has shed all clothes of certainty


         "What a man! How complicated!"                              Plaka 11.2.2014

A stream of curiosity over floods the senses and leaves empty the space where once her suitcase had stood beside the elevator of Nefeli hotel. There was no telling right away, if she was about to leave or had just arrived, but the vicinity to the elevator door would suggest arrival. Otherwise the belongings would be close to the main door with the prospect of having a yellow taxi waiting outside to take her to the airport. Vanished dreams. Only a little glance back at the breakfast table could catch a slight quiver of memory when he came to greet her after she had arrived at the hotel. He lived in Athens while she called home some Northern city.


A fence erected to protect a property provokes often no real artistic responses, but more or less half hearted attempts. This is due to having been commissioned,  and thereby leads to making mere abritary use of the arts. The outcome is a kind of decorative element resorting to typical symbolic images e.g. pillars as indication to find oneself in Greece.

"Iconic graffiti underneath the Acropolis"                                Plaka  11.2.2014

The graffiti along that fence shows what a heavy use of iconic symbols (like iconic buildings in a city landscape) can do to transform freedom of expression into a mere replication of typical images associated in this case with Greece. Altogether this country suffers due to having to import their ancient past. This is because many tourists flock to Greece, and when in Athens to the Plaka, not to see what people do in the present, but to be reminded by those ancient ruins up on Acropolis hill what Ancient Greece stands for still today. Thus when they come upon almost unexpectedly upon so much graffiti, they are startled because they can fetch them into the present. That then poses the crucial, equally critical question: what can graffiti say, literally speaking, in the shadow of the Acropolis? If the perception is reduced to but pillars and some symbolic icons, this distorted image of Ancient Greece will lead one further away than sensing what this edifice build more than 2000 years ago can say all by itself.

To a stranger, the Plaka can seem like a labyrinth. In some streets, one can get lost as it appears to be most difficult to find the way; then again, after stepping out of narrow confines of houses, the glance up to the Acropolis can calm down pitched up emotions. For the Parthenon up on the Acropolis gives orientation not only through the streets of the Plaka, but as well through life.

There is one thing which disturbs. When looking up, there can be seen the Greek flag flying in the breeze which strokes the cresents of the walls. That flag is highly significant for the history of Greece. One crucial night during Second World War and German occupation, two men climbed up to exchange the flag showing the Swastika with the Greek nationl flag. It was a signal for resistance to start throughout Greece. Likewise is alarmed the German occupation troops. Soon thereafter things turned ugly, and this out of fear of resistance. Men were rounded up and shot on the spot. There is this famous poem by Elytis, "Axion Esti" - be praised. In that book he describes how the future of one Greek man began while the officer who shot him for refusing to obey his order to step forward ended.


             Greek flag atop the Acropolis                              Plaka 11.4.2014

Given the significance of the Greek flag precisely at this spot, it may not be easy to comprehend the other thought. Yet the Acropolis is a world wide edifice standing for Ancient Greece and should not be claimed by a nation state as if 'ours' and not belonging to the history of humanity. Also the latter aspect has to be seen in relative terms. Socrates ignored it as he considered it to be a monument of kitsch and a mere demonstration of abuse of power in his times. Equally Franz Fanon stated the Parthenon as symbol of Western Civilization cannot apply to all cultures in the world. Consequenty the mounting of the Greek flag at that visible spot amounts to claiming this to be Greek territory, and therefore with special jurisdiction, in order to be able to claim that this is 'ours' and not a part of humanity. Interestingly enough, the British Museum refuses now to turn over the Parthenon i.e. Elgin marbles to the Greek authorities on the basis of wishing to retain access to world heritage.

The angle of fraternity has lost out in the winter months on what may be after all just traces of schools, institutes and residents who come to live here during the summer months when the nights are long and clear, equally warm and endless. They stretch right into the next morning and continue the day after to be still more of a night willing to embrace the songs rising to the night sky with the stars way above pointing out what might be called the ceiling of the universe.

Liziou Street - four elements along one wall

Vis a vis this fence, a bit further on and on the other side of Liziou street, four elements allow a side glance at what can be found alongside. The painted wall appears like Venetian boats as they glide to their pier while the sun is reflected in the ripples of waves washing the feet of the walls.



A door whispers: "step inside!" Such a greeting has turned silent especially by such a door which has been marked by chalk. At times, it is considered to be an honour to have received such a notification; at other times, such marks on a door spell trouble for those inside. They are no longer able to invite anyone to come in. Instead boots sprang open the lock and the search began for lips no longer sealed, but talkative enough to give what blind authorities seek in search of the guilty.



Indeed, let us be friends with all kinds of creatures, including the Harlequin with crazy shoes. He reminds of 'Till Eulenspiegel' and at the same time the other shoe of a high heeled lady ready to dance at a stroke of music. More can be said about this wall dedicated to 'amigos'. As much as can be said about the Plaka: the area belongs to all and to the winds which circle like rumours circle to hold the breath.



The face of the bully is horrific even when he grins, but this bulk of a man reminds of the lumber man. On and on goes his heartening smile to give time to anyone wishing to count his teeth. Onlookers may still be frightened by the size. No one is comfortable when the bulk of material washed ashore by humanity having ship wrecked somewhere else, and before one knows it, the vibrations of his feet begin to resound in the ears. Darkness does not descend as definite as his glance. Even when the eyes are closed, he knows when to strike a bargain with passer-bys, in order not to give in. For acquiescene to power goes hand in hand in forgetting to perceive reality, there is needed a vivid imagination of such a look.


     Saluting Sailor

There is no doubt, the one leg suggests this sailor has been through quite some fights. Yet he is not only alive, but can salute back, when there is need for it.


Graffiti around a playground


  View of the playground from Liziou Street                             Plaka 11.2.2014

When looking down into the playground, there could be seen how a teacher asked the boys to lie down in a circle. The situation was unusual or rather a stark contrast to what otherwise the Plaka stands for, namely a place for tourists. But here everyday school life was shaped by doing some physical exercises outdoors, and that means even in February under a blue sky. The playground had basketball baskets at either end and was large enough to hold a mid sized basketball game. Later the boys had to stand up again, walk around in a circle and then crouch down to imitate waddling ducks heading in a row towards an 'imaginary river'. Then, they had to leap and make large steps, as if to release some of their energies from their bodies still grounded too much to the earth. Nebulous of the surrounding, they seemed even oblivious of all the graffiti around them, and of whoever was watching them.

Still, the graffiti at the bottom of the hill astonishes due to both its intensity and density. Walking down a road to the right of the playground, one comes upon a corner. To the left, along the playground, graffiti unfolds, while to the right of the corner the houses all show the hands of countless graffiti artists.

Corner at the bottom of the street beside playground



Around the corner












All four images demonstrate graffti's soft power by extension to the right till the green door. Most interesting is the one depicting a whirl pool with a hand beside a fish or fish like image. The rainbow like waves seem to splash over the wall, and take everything out into the sea. It is like taking to the water over and again. It seems to say: 'wash away the lies, wash away the tears, for the year 2013 is bolder and resounds like sound waves do once you hear the cry of a child and the scream of a woman!'

The graffiti gives also a sense as to the height which can be reached when standing tall and even stretching oneself a bit to go even a bit higher with the paint brush. The height indicates what perception at street level is about, and does explain why often what exists on the first floor is never seen.


         The location of that corner with Rafael Mlodzianowski         11.2.2014


To the Left of the corner, first a small alley, then it opens up into a street leading past the playground


It is amazing where graffiti can be found, or rather where graffiti finds a home: an imaginary space in between walls, near a playground, in the Plaka, a residential area of Athens but reminiscent of older times when the city was not sprawling out to the endless suburbs but huddled, so it seemed, in the shade of the Acropolis.



Playground wall - dotted with colours, a mixture of letting the paint work the wall, so to speak, and the bringing about of a Picasso like image of a face with three eyes in the Cubist style. Wonderful is the kind of oblivious nature of the expressions. Interesting the colours of rust at the bottom of the wall. So strong, so simple, it makes the dispute with the wall into another story of the city with its own history. The present has something to add.









Around a playground a lot of things are going on, and this at different times of the day and night. Whenever it is not used officially, that is by the near-by school for physical exercises or some basketball, for sure, there are other kids who will climb over the fence and play ball whenever there is no one else around. In that sense, public space defines itself through a kind of defence mechanism erected to keep out certain persons while letting in others. That then defines something like a territory with a certain reputation. The rest is taken care of by wind and rain falls, or else light regulating the times of a day.




Opposite the playground, the wall continues graffiti, writing on the wall





Small details emerge when the freedom of expression intermingles with the voices heard during a certain period of time. Catch phrases seem to dodge any further analysis, just as 'cool it' is followed up by a typical saying: "I am good!" The latter is taken from a police series and is said after a shooting is over, and the police officers check each other if still alive, breathing and ready for a next adventure in a series of 'crime and order'. The difference to that world of television is not shown by reality show, but by noticing small details like what has been painted alone on this single door.


            "The plant of the wall"                                     Plaka 11.2.2014

Usually violence is equated with blood shed, but here the plant of the wall depicts another form of outcry. At the same time, it reveals different layers of writing (see the various colours: blue, rosa, white and black) to reflect passing times, or how responses pile up, so to speak, like cars crashing into one another to cause a mass pile up. Conjunction along the walls takes on another grammatical category especially when signed by a Joseph Sage. It may not be the true but artistic name, but the hidden corner or alcove like door has invited for such postings centred around a wall flower. In the life of the youth that has the connotation of neglect while along the wall it may underline existence in the shadow of the wall, but an existence nevertheless.

Once returning to the corner and heading back up in the direction of the hill upon which stands high above the Acropolis, there can be made out two ouzo places with one well known for its balcony from which to view the street below and waiters bringing the food on big trays, so that one can select various dishes. That place has links to Crete.


     View of the two ouzo places at the end of the road   

At the top of that road, we turned to the right and came upon an old wall with the remnants of two buildings showing what the Plaka consists of: forgotten places where once existed another life style overturned by haphazard guesses how well the tourist trade would do, and what else was left of the desire to stay and to live in the Plaka area.

Old wall


The wall is just opposite the small parking spot. The latter shows what is still left of the original much larger parking place. A new construction is going up. Its design appears to be rather heavy handed and indicates the intention to crowd what free space is still left in the Plaka. But the wall itself is a beautiful art work. Alone the patches of colour underline what it means to simply fade out of the history of this particular part of Athens.

When continuing along that road now bending towards the right and heading down a slope, there can be found at that corner a taverna with wide open windows to invite passer-bys to throw a glance inside.

If one turns then immediately left into a small street, it is possible to discover on its pavement remnants of the Olympic Games of 2004. Through this street went the marathon run and perhaps even the bicycle race, so that for this purpose different lanes were painted onto the pavement. Now these lines are but faded memories of an event long gone by now.



    Tagged wall

Back then, in 2004, the world focused on Greece since everyone assumed this country was about to become a successful place after all. A lot of scepticism had to be overcome, so as to reach that level of expectation. In retrospect, it is amazing how few anticipated what was to come after 2009, that is when the crisis broke out in the full. The games can evoke still further wonders about the manipulative side of the modern world once its public relations maschinery has been thrown into full gear. It amounts to image branding, so that apparently the outside world sees only that what needs to be seen if to appear as being successful - and, therefore, it risks to leave out completely stark reality. 


       Occult like creature with five arms                          Plaka 11.2.2014

The creature appears to be like Hydra a serpent with multiple heads – a possible first sign of what might disturb the tranquillity of the Plaka. It reminds of some infatuation coming from India, but entails as well a sense of humour. Each of the five heads has one arm raised to signal something, and if not a salute, then to behold, here is something to take notice of. Attentivity in this strange mix of association and humour elongates the casting of doubts upon every other thought. It makes any passer-by if not stop, then at least ponder what this graffiti intends to say. The disturbing element is in this lack of knowing what gives it so much power since similar to the risk of receiving a poisonous snake bite.


Tagged wall on Liziou street

This pink salamander (not panther) entails a poetic inscription of a dream about fleeting beauty. It exists next to what can be called 'vestige' or the names keeper. Adorno identified such beauty to be only present so long as seen from a distance. Approaching it, never mind touching it, that is out of the question, for such beauty disappears immediately when the curious tourist steps closer and tries to reach out. Another term for that is evasive beauty. It is simply touching to see such bigger than life size creature on the wall reach human dimension.

Human dimensions or elements – slightly debased like an old abandoned house – can speak up and overtake daily conversations. Thus she may say to him: “whatever you want, it is fine with me!" But if he thinks it is up to her, then there is no knowing what shall become of the two.

It is a mere remark said casually during a walk during the Plaka that can decide their future. It will in retrospect underline what an interesting time they did spend together when walking through the Plaka, and this without any goal and still be guided by the presence of the Acropolis. The latter stands for invisible hands which can take the two by the hand and guide them towards a beautiful spot from where they can look out into a landscape reminding of antiquity. This comes to one's mind especially when seeing the 'tower of the winds'.


                  Tower of the winds

Here then a pause is needed to pose the subtle question about what vision for the future comes into existence when walking through the Plaka and in experiencing the contrast between ancient monuments of the past and graffiti of a modern society in search of life amidst all urban walls and shrines? The vision can decide the fate of any couple for they may not believe enough as to what it takes to share a vision about a common future. Small threads of points in the discussion not picked up by the other will not allow them in times to come to stitch together a narrative about their love. Hence a door merely slightly ajar will allow only a glance in what is their potentiality of love. Yet they will never realize it as they will never live together, become so frank to one another, that daily life would take on this dimension of retaining access to common memories. Rather soon thereafter they would part and soon be like strangers who can walk away as if nothing had taken place while walking through the Plaka, when passing that corner, or just holding still to enjoy a double shade spend by a wall - from the wind and sun!

All those thoughts can come when seeing an old house which developed like a beard or long hair a rich vegetation composed of grass and other plants due to the heavy rain fall in the first months of 2014. Also the condition reveals that the house is no longer used, the ownership perhaps unclear or the owners are unable to pay for the expensive renovation. Still, the very absence of restoration gives the house an enchanted tone and thereby the entire area of the Plaka a special charm. Add to this all the graffiti, there can be discovered as a huge of variety of impressions which exist side by side. It lets thoughts trail off for nothing needs to be forced, except when graffiti ends up being parked like cars along the wall.

When glancing back and upwards, that is on the other side of the street, there can be seen the typical make-up of the Plaka: the old and the new next to a ground totally neglected, equally infiltrated as to what would seem to be a city of decay and renewal. Listening to what the surroundings say, this is the ancient city still existing somehow in the present. That past element hushes like a mother does her child to a silence meant to calm down all fears. These are not ancient times. The reminiscence of the recent past, including the Olympic Games, is but a vague vapour which rises up from the ghost runners who recreate a spirit of becoming one with the city.


         Ruin standing up against the sky


         Street sign painted over

The Plaka gives the visitors but also the people who live or work there, some clear indication about the current state of affairs. The area differs from other parts of Athens since there time appears to be sedated. Likewise the street signs. They are often painted over and therefore makes it hard for any stranger to find the right orientation. The wrong one is obtained as long as one relies on the functional system of order, street signs and street names included. For this reason, graffiti in the Plaka adds an entirely new dimension and gives it the Right to exist as it speaks up on behalf of the present in contrast to the Ancient Past - the latter a vague reminder of what took place back then when they used equally a wall to inscribe rumours by which people were atuned to what was happening in politics and to decisions being made, decisions which sealed, so to speak, the fate of the city.


Photos and text by

Hatto Fischer

Athens 5.3.2014



1. Nicholas Anastasopoulos, "Share" in: MADE in ATHENS, 13. Mostra Internazioale di Architettura, 2012, p. 93

2. „Banksy captivates New York with guerrilla graffiti art blitz“. Associated Press in New York / the guardian.com, Saturday 19 October 2013 16.06 BST http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/oct/19/banksy-new-york-graffiti-art

3. "...perhaps as a result of the collapse of ideas of national destiny, there is the growing importance of 'memory places' in ideas of the historical past...Old houses, formerly left to decay, are now prized as living links to the past..." in: Raphael Samuel, (2012) Theatres of Memory, London: Verso. p. 39

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