Street Art & Counterculture in Exarchia

Chrisa Lepida | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Recently I’ve watched an awesome documentary presenting the evolution of the street art in Greece and specifically in the neighbourhood of Exarchia, in Athens. Having visited multiple times Exarchia and having wondered about the awesome graffitis decorating the walls of the area, I’ve decided to dedicate a full page on this stunning expression of art and the stories behind it.

Attention; If you consider yourself counter-cultural then you are home.

Situated in the centre of the city, right next to the "historic triangle" of Syntagma parliament building, Monastiraki (under the Acropolis) and Omonoia Square, Exarchia is considerably unpolished compared to its neighbours to the south and east. But what it lacks in clean sidewalks, it makes up for in virility and spirit. Exarchia is said to represent the microcosm of the major conflicts within the greek society; the police vs the politicised youth; the old vs the young generation; the state vs the poor and the marginalised; the political elite vs the austerity-stricken population.

Exarchia is a district of Athens that is home to leftists and anarchists, poor people and intellectuals. Greece's economic crisis hit it hard. But solidarity and a culture of autonomy brought people together and that changed the neighbourhood’s vibes; its alternative lifestyle made it one of the most welcoming areas in Athens, where immigrants can hang out feeling safer than in most other areas. For thousands of young Greeks, Exarchia has become a space for urban resistance. This is where they gather to talk and do politics. It is their arena for free expression, where they demonstrate the full extent of their anger with an indifferent, self-serving state that ignores their opinions and turns its back on their future.

At the same time, Exarchia is one of the most colorful, mysterious and vibrant neighbourhoods of Athens. The urban culture is being presented through multiple types of arts, while the most obvious and extremely impressive as mentioned above is the graffiti expression that decorate multiple of the area’s walls. Exarchia’s street art is actually known for promoting independence and respective values, such as freedom of expression, social awareness and the culture of resistance.

According to W.D., graffiti artist from Bali, who lives in Athens and is the creator of many recognizable artworks throughout the city, "graffiti is a form of free expression. In reality, street art bloom in places where people accept this type of expression.”

However at the same time, there are people claiming that the street art is an expression of vandalism and not an expression of freedom and creativity! In any case it’s worth paying a visit to Exarchia to see by yourself; what are your thoughts on that? Feel free to leave your comments below!

At the meantime, have a look at the documentary that inspired me to write this page, here’s some food for thought! Personally I loved it :)

Direction/Filming: George Fiorakis Filming/Editing: Alexander Haritakis Graphics: Afroditi Bitzouni- Indivisuals Design Collective Music selection: Manolis Fiorakis Proofreading: Lila Tzamousi, Nana Kanakaki English subs: Dimitra F.

Nearby neighbourhoods worth exploring while in Athens;

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