Graffiti goes public, nationwide

Here’s the first surprise: A graffiti festival without an official agenda titled «Chromopolis» will take place from June 22 to July 21 in 10 cities around Greece. The second surprise? The event is organized by the Cultural Olympiad. Very rarely – if ever – has an official Greek body taken a typical expression of youth street culture under its wing. As the choice of Dimitris Papaioannou as artistic director of the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2004 Olympics demonstrates, Greek society is re-evaluating its relationship with artistic creation. What led Cultural Olympiad officials to these rather forward-looking choices? The emergence of new currents in art – linked to technology as well as the consolidation of new urban behavior – in addition to the need to expand cultural horizons beyond the predictable and known. Nikos Hadzopoulos, project manager of Chromopolis, explained, «The Cultural Olympiad’s wish was to embrace those events genuinely representing youth culture, while the ultimate aim was to offer a new dimension to the overall program.» Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos was on the same wavelength: «It is rare for an art form which began marginally, in the area of what is known as alternative culture, to quickly find its place in the art establishment. Graffiti is such a case and, moreover, it is a highly communicative art form.» Events will kick off on June 22 and 23 (in Piraeus and Kalamaria in Thessaloniki respectively) and will later take place in another eight cities: on June 29 and 30 in Volos and Ioannina, on July 6 and 7 in Patras and Alexandroupolis, on July 13 and 14 in Kalamata and Mytilene, and on June 20 and 21 in Hania and Rhodes. Coming from abroad for Chromopolis are 16 graffiti artists, among them Os Gameos from Brazil, Hubit and Sturmie from Australia, and Loomit from Germany; they will all go to work on a number of central buildings in the various cities. Preparations for the main mural will take place every Saturday, while the rest of the events (including break-dancing demos and DJ music sessions) will begin at 11 a.m. At the same time, members of the public will be invited to participate by filling in an application, which will enable them to get sprays for the following day’s amateur graffiti session. Sunday events will be divided into two: from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then from 6 p.m. to late at night. Those who have applied can pick up the material from 10 a.m. to noon. The organizers wish to point out that the material will be handed out according to priority, as existing stocks will be unable to meet demand. Also, aspiring graffiti artists will get the chance to follow demonstrations of graffiti techniques, and get a first glimpse of how the designs are carried out.

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