By Anthony Verias, WeAreChange GREECE
By now you have probably heard of a certain UK based graffiti artist who goes by the name of Banksy, who has gained enormous fame with his politically charged works. A movie loosely based on himself was even nominated for an Oscar! So what does this all prove? That there is an ENORMOUS market for graffiti tourism, so much so that maps are made to better locate that elusive Bansky piece. One such piece is rumored to be on the Greek island of Corfu. This island as well as others have seen a sharp decline in tourism since the start of the crisis. Tourism is right at the heart of the Greek economy with jobs in that sector accounting for 1 out of 5. The high season is of course in the summer, people come for the islands and to view the ancient art of Athens. Though, a movement of modern art could be a bright spot for the future of Greece’s economy. Carpe Diem is the team that is responsible for the urban treasures popping up all over Greece, creating an artistic revitalization; the likes of which the country has not seen for decades. Albert Einstein once said that “crises bring progress” and “creativity is born from anguish”. The anguish caused by the crisis has allowed the arts and creativity to flourish in the Northern port city of Thessaloniki.
I got to witness that anguish and creativity firsthand on the way home from intense riots which occurred after protests commemorating the 1973 fall of the military Junta. As I was leaving this scene of carnage; fire and smoke hanging in the air, with my eyes still stinging from the tear gas, it was this mural which gave me hope for Greece. Hope had so quickly grown from despair. In reality, there are reasons to be optimistic about Greece’s future everywhere you look; you just need to know where to look. Fragile bar is just one of the places which gives hope to a country so desperately in need of it. Media the world over have also stood up and took notice of the cultural and artistic revival in Greece, with the NYT noting “Salonika’s youth are embracing a do-it-yourself ethos resulting in a wave of arts and night-life venues that they hope will hold up in tough times”. Fragile Bar is a prime example of Greeks coping and even persevering in the face of great adversity.
It is clear that the work of graffiti artists gives the country an esthetic boost and the expansion of this art-form has certainly grown rapidly since the start of the crisis, but can it’s presence offer Greece anything more than a “face-lift”? For this answer I turned to Kiriakos Iosifidis, organizer and founding member of Carpe Diem. Carpe Diem is the team responsible for transforming dilapidated spaces into public works of art.
Kiriakos believes that bringing some “color” into a communities everyday life can go a long way as far as lifting it’s spirits and as a citizen of Thessaloniki where his work is prominently displayed I can firmly attest to that.
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