Graffiti can be a fantastic resource for those who – by circumstance of choice – are isolated from mainstream artistic expression. People can make virtually any (legally or not) public space the canvas of their message or expression. Equally its target of criticism can be the very building, which a graffiti artist uses to display their message. However, all too often, it can be merely a manifestation of nothing except somebody’s attempt at immortality or being noticed. I’m referring to the mindboggling concept of tagging one’s own name. Athens is no exception to this phenomenon and in many ways it’s an exemplar of this inane form of self-expression.
The photo I’ve displayed at the top of this article is the finest illustration of this I’ve seen here. It’s Greece’s National Bank – or it would seem what’s left of it. It’s an institution that is arguably the greatest example of establishment greed and folly in modern-day Europe.
This could have been transformed into a shrine of cutting assaults and murals about the ineptitude and gluttony of government and finance. But what it is instead is a muddled mess of tags, peppered with some political messages, which are drowned out by idiocy.
It’s tragic to think what could have been.
Although, there is another way of looking at this; perhaps I’m being rather pessimistic. It could be viewed as a symbol of society as a whole.
We all have a voice. We all think we should be heard. But the problem is we don’t all have something worth saying!
The tragic irony of this though is that those who have something worth saying get masked metaphorically – and physically in the case of graffiti – by those with nothing worthwhile to express.
I guess even the concepts we all take to be infallible such as democracy for example are riddled with their own shortcomings.