Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Recession in graffiti: Walking in Greece

We were staring at a wall and its many eyes were staring right back. It was his last night visiting me in Colombia and we were sitting across my favorite graffiti in Bogota. It was neither the most intricate, nor the most innovative, but the simplicity of its gaze resonated with me. There were eyes floating on walls all across Colombia, bearing witness, reminding us that we were watched in all the ways that raised the hairs on the back of my neck and seen in the ways that make a heart sing.

Two years later, in Thessaloniki, Greece, the walls display no eyes. They have become receptacles of public anger at the financial crisis sweeping through the nation. The walls of my hometown are covered in messages of hope, revolution, indignation, and judgment. Some of them are bohemian, others misspelled. Most of them denounce the decisions of the Greek government and the austerity measures the IMF bailout package brings with it. As I was watching the news this week, I was dismayed by the fact that violence -- even by the usual agent provocateurs -- overshadowed nonviolent protests. I know there are people in my homeland who want to effect change without breaking marbles and burning movie theaters. I am always on the hunt for positive images, for photographs of hope. Even though my walk through Thessaloniki yielded many more photographs of anger than of love, the humor that some Greeks have maintained and their attempt to preserve their sensitivities is fueling my own optimism.
Indignados, a reference to the Spanish protest movement, are welcome in Thessaloniki -- as are peace and love.

A message to tourists

A reaction to the Neo-Nazi messages spreading through the city. 
An allusion to the messaging of the Obama campaign: "Together we can." Incongruous next to it: a swastika.  I find Neo-Nazi messages appalling and alarming, especially in a city that suffered heavily during the Holocaust. The White Tower, an emblematic icon of Thessaloniki, is visible in the background.
Unsurprisingly, one of my favorites.

Calls for an emotional awakening, amidst the now common sentiments towards the police.

Men in chains, with the White Tower in the background.

One part misspelled, one part emo, one part true: When the dream dies, it becomes a tear and it falls.

Your wealth -- your riches -- are our blood! Scribbled on an apartment building on Nikis Avenue.

A logo of the "I'm not paying" movement is superimposed on a Greek flag. This movement efuses to accept the additional taxation the austerity measures dictate. A different group crossed the logo out.

Another favorite.

This was Day 11 of my Measuring Life in Photographs project.

Socialism for the Rich, Capitalism for the Rest -- on Nikis Avenue

"Nobody is free when others are oppressed." - Near Athonos Square, one of Thessaloniki's 'tavern districts'

Unbelievably, this rhymes in Greek: "I will poop in my espresso" -- commentary on Thessaloniki's cafe culture

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