Athens is known for its grittier side. In 2022, I’ve discovered a newer slightly cleaner version of the city I knew from the 90s.
For sure, graffiti has exploded around the city and can be found in almost every surface visible to the eye.
Beyond the traditional football slogans, the latest street art is artier and talks to a new generation’s appetite to make a political statement.
From small notes, to IPAs, quirky logos, to beetroot cakes and fish tavernas, Athens is no longer limited by its suffocating random architecture but energized by a transnational vibe melting all that comes, goes and remains, in a true South Mediterranean crossroad vibes of its geography.
Some say London is paved in gold. That is not quite true. There are ways one can experience it and they are, in truth, golden. They are the walks, in a safe city, at all times of the day or night, revealing architectural marvels, historical corners, oral histories retold, under the bridge communities, housing estates, street art and corporate communes wrapped around a few blocks from each other. They may not always live in harmony with each other, but they certainly demand each others existence to enrich their own. This is not gentrification, or poetics of urban spaces but a slow crawl of inverted commas on concepts undefined, yet golden for their moment in time.
2021 first and now
Walking through the waterways, up and down across the bridges I am confused as to what price you can place on which experience.
The Olympic stadium glares light in the distance, reflecting onto the waterways, drawing the eye over. There are street lights, yellow glare making seeing harder than it ought to be in the dark.
There is lighting and different shades, colours and intensities, warming up the night’s colouring from square box apartments paid for by the mill.
There are peeping john’s from dilapidated rooms upstairs from warehouse spaces.
The paradox is uncanny. Boxes upon boxes, with different vibration of electric energy lighting up the inside of the box, marking their position to the street below.
Dark chipped corners, with flaking paper glue adverts hanging off, contrasting the clean cut edges of the new apartments.
The most colourful and mesmerising visuals, the caked graffiti. Layers over layers, of spray paint. Different times of the day pushing backgrounds to fore, that shape and the separation from the other spaces, a rolling show of two dimensional characters and shapes.