Athens – Street Art Guide #2
This article was originally published on Blocal blog.
In part 1 of Giulia Blocal’s Athens Street Art Guide, she talked about street art and mural artworks in the neighborhoods Metaxourgeio, Psyrri and Anafiotika. There is so much more amazing to be seen and spotted.
Here you can read part 2 of her street art guide.
Gazi is the neighbourhood developed around the former Gas Factory, which was transformed by the Municipality of Athens into a trendy cultural centre (Technopolis). The Municipality also designated Gazi as the night-club district and the area is now full of clubs and restaurants (as seen here).
Street art played a great role in this transformation: you can find many large murals along Pireos street by INO, by STMTS and many others, while if you venture until Konstantinoupoleos street you will see few windows of Borondo’s “Shame” left standing, a work-on-glass originally showing eight tormented, faceless and naked bodies engraved majestically.
For some more street art head to the southern and western exterior walls of ILPAP, the bus depot, aside the Kerameikos archaeological area.
I chose to stay in Exarchia during my week in Athens, despite many locals trying to scare me away from this hood, a “stronghold of dangerous anarchists” according to the most. But I figured that beginning every day from Exarchia’s colourful streets would allowed me to explore local street art far and wide, until the last hidden pedestrian alley.
Exarchia’s walls attract both internationally renowned street artists -such as Borondo and INO– and rebellious kids coming from Athenian suburbs with a spray can in the jacket.
Some very colourful spots you really shouldn’t miss are the Polytechnic, the Alexandros Grigoropoulos memorial (a shrine to the 15-year-old guy shot dead by a policeman in 2008), the autonomous park at the intersection of Navarinou street and Zoodochou Pigis street (a tiny park which was meant to be turned into a parking lot but it was taken over by activists instead and turned into a garden, on the cry of “their parking, our park”) and one more “autonomous area” at the end of Koundouriotou street’s stairs, but frankly every corner of Exarchia shows off some street art, especially parking lots and pedestrian alleys.
Besides the street art, what I liked about Exarchia is the communal spirit, a sort of neighborhood pride and mutual assistance, or -as my Greek friend Nikolas put it- “we are all anarchists, when there is the need to”, meaning that even in other parts of the city Athenians are sympathetic with the social and political fights taking place in Exarchia.
The hood is inhabited by students and politicised youth, left-wings movements and intellectuals, a pretty interesting fauna mirrored by a bunch of pretty interesting shops and alternative businesses such as independent bookshops, bo-ho cafés, vinyl shops, co-ops and social enterprises.
BONUS TRACK: NEOS KOSMOS (AND MORE!)
From Anafiotika I walked all the way to Neos Kosmos, crossing all those underrated residential neighbourhoods behind the Acropolis –such as Koukaki and Makrygianni- where tourists never go. My destination was the Onassis Cultural Centre, where INO painted a large outdoor mural with the image of a woman’s face on crushed paper.
Wandering around the inner part of Neos Kosmos, which –by the way- I found a very “Balkan” area of Athens, I arrived until Kasomouli street, where I spotted a beautiful and very colourful large mural by A. Kouvari (painted by M. Anastasakos and Kretsis Crew).
This mural has been painted in 2011 as part of the project “Art & public space – paintings on the buildings of Athens” of the Athens School of Fine Arts and the Greek Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change; two more large murals have been realized thanks to this project and they are located in two completely different areas of Athens, but as this is already a “bonus track” I will include them in here.
The first mural realized within the “Art & public space project” is the one I used as opening picture, an artwork by P. Tsakonas located on Piraeus street, based on Albrecht Durer’s drawing “Praying Hands” (1508), which speaks against Greek economic crisis.
The other one, still realized in 2011, is near Syntagma square: “No Signal”, from an artwork by P. Sklavenitis, painted by M. Anastasakos and Kretsis Crew. Going around graffiti hunting has been one of my favourite activities in Athens; not only because I love street art but also because, as INO put it in an interview for the New York Times, “if you want to learn about a city, look at its walls”.
Article written by Giulia Blocal – thanks!