Wall writing

‘What counts is reality’

‘What counts is reality – not the bullshit laws – no human is illegal.’ When this picture was presented in a conference amongst other relevant works, the conversation moved to the aspect of aesthetics. How the choices of aesthetics were decided, what typefaces, calligraphy or/and letter styling were incorporated by the artists? 

Bold letters, a bold statement, like a strong belief of perceiving and representing reality. No fanciness to speak what is thought by the acting persons as a true fact. The question they set is about the value and the legitimisation of law when people are killed in a war or trying to avoid it, drowned in the sea and stopped on the borders. 

In this particular case the message has to be easily read. Either from people walking on foot either from the passengers who ride the commuter and international trains passing by in quite a high speed. The abandoned train vessels stay there wrecked like huge dead animals and the site actually is a train cemetery. The whole site reminds of a scene after a long period of war. 

Neither any figurative elements are included in the work. But the written objects standing like ‘steel giants’ are themselves quite iconic, and consist themselves the actual figurative part of the picture captured by the photo camera. Thus In a way the figure is the train itself, somehow completed with the addition of the wild weeds in front of them. 

Furthermore, what is not obvious in the picture is the -most possibly intended- site specificity of the work. The abandoned trains’ location is Diavata area. The tracks lead to Eidomeni -the border to North Macedonia is, where a massive migrants camp had grew in 2015 – a news headline for months. The trains are also located very close to the Diavata hot spot. Additionally, they stand very close to the Diavata prisons -the only prisons in Thessaloniki metropolitan area. 

Trains in many respects represent mobility and in many cases freedom itself too[1]. But the trains are also standing still. During the past years, many of those specific trains offered temporary shelter to anyone who needed it. 

Those trains are distant from the main railway station and yet not of enough value to be sold as scrap. They stay still watching the trains go and they carry messages for the ones passing by. They are refused mobility, a privilege that the migrants themselves are asking as a principal human right.

Orestis Pangalos
December 2019

[1] For the metaphor of the Trains as freedom, Bill Daniel’s documentary ‘Who is Bozo Texino?’ (2005) is highly recommended.

photos: Jan Danebod, Orestis Pangalos