‘You are here’: Μap on Platanos, Sykamia

This map was made by ‘solidarians’, activists, volunteers together with migrants and refugees[1] in order to provide location and orientation for the ‘newcomers’ who were arriving from sea to Sykamia, Northern part of Lesvos island, during the year 2016. It was hanged on the old Pine Tree (‘Platanos’) nearby the beach, which, from summer 2019, no longer exists.[2]

Observing the map, we notice that:

-apart from the main map of Lesvos, another map of Greece and five (5) other text messages are are layered in one ‘collage’;

-a variety of icons, symbols, typographies and fonds are used in order the message to be transmitted; (photo 1);

-apart from English and Greek, we can see Arabic, Farsi and Urdu languages (all photos);

-the map shows the location of Lesvos island within the Greek territory and neighbouring area (photo 2 & 3);

-the location of the newcomers is indicated by the hand-written ‘YOU ARE HERE’ (photo 4);

-the important information on it is the two alternative routes to Moria, Kara Tepe camps and Mytilene (highlighted in red and arrows, photo 2). Thus, Molivos & Sykamia, the two closer villages where there is bus transportation, are highlighted (photo 2);

-the map uses symbols of transport means, ie. bus and boat (photos 2, 4, 5), as well as, it provides info for the boat’s time duration and average cost (photo 5)[3];

-the directions given in all languages (Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, English, Greek) are, approximately, the following[4]:

Welcome to the Greek island Lesvos.

You must register with the authorities first at — MORIA.

By bus takes about 90 minutes. Walking takes two days.

Please stay with your traveling group, and don’t get into separate vehicles.

Keep your luggage with you at all times. Beware of over-pricing.

Do not sleep or rest on the roads. (photo 6)

Every map is more than its representation, symbolism, typography etc.; it is the people behind, in front and over it, as well as the relations and procedures needed in order for its creation. These ‘mapping’ processes reveal a variety of enclosed information regarding all above-mentioned observations:

-the people who created the map respected the need of the ‘newcomers’ to be treated in their own language and to participate in procedures that concerns, vastly, them; their location, orientation and first basic directions;

-the use of hand-writing on the map, either in order to emphasise an information, ie. ‘YOU ARE HERE’ or to change an old one, ie. ‘MORIA’ instead of ‘the port in Mytilene’, reveals the on-going process of the mapping, throughout many changes in data, circumstances, means etc..

In all, this ‘mapping’ is open to alterations and ‘newcomings’; is in a process of becoming towards to the future, and finally; inspired by Deleuze and Guattari’s work, we can argue that it performs as an ‘assemblage’.[5]


Naya Tselepi
December 2019



[1] More info here: 

[2] Τhe Pine tree fell in July 2019 due to heavy storms. More info here:—symvolo-ths-prosfygikhs-krishs-sth-skala-sykamias

[3] We assume that the time duration and cost refer to the itinerary from Mytilene to Athens.

[4] Some deviances from the English text are noticed in Greek language, which, roughly affect the communication, given that the vast majority of newcomers doesn’t communicate in Greek.

[5] The term ‘assemblages’ derives from the french ‘agencements’, which is introduced by Deleuze and Guattari in Mille Plateaux, Capitalisme et Schizophrenie (1980).



Crampton, J.W., 2011. Mapping: A critical introduction to cartography and GIS, 11. John Wiley & Sons.

Deleuze, G., and Guattari, F., 2004. A thousand plateaus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia (B. Massumi, Trans.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.


Map of location and orientation for migrants and refugees who were arriving from sea to Sykamia, Northern part of Lesvos island. The map was made by ‘solidarians’, activists, volunteers together with migrants and refugees & it was hanged on the old Pine Tree (‘Platanos’) nearby the beach. 
Photos by Naya Tselepi, February 2016.