Graffiti is not necessarily synonymous with vandalism or pollution, and as street art can still exercise social criticism and resist commercialization, crisis-struck Athens continues to attract and inspire artists.
The mission of the Athens Street Art Festival, titled “Crisis [?] What Crisis [?],” which took place in the Greek capital last month, was to defy certain stereotypes related to the genre and the current reality in Greece. It transformed a rather degraded part of the city into a colorful attraction, characterized by impressive graffiti – which remains in place.
The festival invited 20 well-known street artists from around Europe to tastefully spray-paint walls in the Municipality of Nikaia, including the Athens School of Fine Arts and other public buildings. Petrou Ralli Street now features a unique composition by Kouka Dandi, titled “The African,” standing at 25 meters.
Goin from Bristol took on several pieces, including a symbolic demolition of Goldman Sachs and a rendition of the Venus de Milo, whose face is covered with a scarf and crowned with a spiked wreath. German street artist Decycle recreated works from the streets of Berlin and Cologne on the walls of Athens. The festival also featured Gregos from France, best known for his blue-and-white mask inscribed with the phrase “We are all Greek.”
The artists showed that this type of politically provocative and symbolic street art has little in common with the mindless scribbles so prevalent in many cities. The creations are also expected to increase the amount of visitors to the area, as happened in Bristol’s Nelson Street and the Parisian suburb of Vitry-sur-Seine.
The festival was co-organized by GA Art+Events Mgmt, the Athens School of Fine Arts and the Municipality of Nikaia.