The Greek Social and Political Crisis As Shown in Street Art in Athens 2015

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:45
Location: Hörsaal 14 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Betty DOBRATZ, Iowa State University, USA
Lisa WALDNER, University of St. Thomas, USA
Based on graffiti text and visuals and interview data collected in Athens in July 2015 as well as a review of current literature, we examine the Greek crisis that has particularly been generated by the implementation of austerity measures associated with the troika (European Commission, International Monetary Fund, and European Central Bank), the membership in the European Union, and the corruption of the Greek politicians and police.  Leventis (2013:7) has pointed out that Athens especially has been affected stating “quantity and scale of street art parallels the ever increasing intensity of the unfolding state of emergency grappling and crippling the socio-urban heart of Athens.”  We focus on the portrayal of social injustices in a historical frame but especially examine graffiti after the “No” vote to the continuation of austerity measures (the second of three national votes thus far in 2015). The search for alternatives as well as anger, fear, frustration, and hopelessness are some of the images seen in Athenian graffiti.  For example WD’s (Wild Drawing’s) mural of a homeless person sleeping on the streets of Athens illustrates the extreme poverty that many encounter given the high unemployment rates especially for youth. In a mural Dimitris Taxis questions if anything useful has been learned from Greek historical contributions related to democracy, the ideas of Socrates, etc. Texts and sketches reveal the frustration with the police that led to riots in 2008 and in Exacheia the creation of a memorial to Alexandros Grigorapoulos, a 15 year old Greek youth.  The concerns about the austerity measures can be seen in graffiti critical of the Euro and of Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany.  The walls tell a complex story of  Greece’s past, present, and future.