Categories
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

Categories
Wall writing

Suffering doesn’t stop when one leaves the hotspot

In Athens, February 8, 2019 young Embuka was beaten to death in a central police precinct. His relatives were seeking to find him for days. Arts and music collective Antifa lab chose a provocative interference to make the killing known to wider audiences. They chose to write on a well-known commercial artwork commissioned by a sports industry. The artworks image is of Giannis Antetokounmpo -now a global superstar, who has experienced what it is growing being a poor immigrant of African descent in Greece. The collective chose to comment Embuka’s death and similar acts of authoritarian violence writing on the drawing’s background that ‘if Antetokounmpo was not playing in the NBA, he might be dead in Omonoia police precinct’. 

However, their act did not actually vandalised the artwork. They showed respect to Giannis’ figure and only did write on the solid colour surface next to him allowing this way the easy repair of the whole picture. 

They made pictures afterwards and let the media know. The media-including popular sports websites- subsequently published new articles and pictures also mentioning the original source. In such a way they also triggered a web discourse on the web forums.

 

Orestis Pangalos


 

Categories
Wall writing

“We are an image from the future”

Unknown Artist
Photo by Lefteris Margaritis, 2017

Time is conceived of as representing hope, opportunities and vision – all of which are acutely challenged by the notion of crisis. Time is inextricably bound up with notions of progress, growth and development. By contrast, in a state of crisis, defined as a temporary, critical turning point, the past is experienced through a sense of nostalgia, the present is experienced as loss, and the future is precarious. At the old port of Lesvos a street art piece depicting 3 children playing underneath the tag ‘We are an image from the future, No Borders, No Nations, No Governments’ makes a strong comment on a shared vision of future that is not yet here, but about to happen. This shared vision of a future brings to mind Benjamin’s fifth thesis on the philosophy of history (1968), in which he states that:  

[t]he true picture of the past flits by. The past can be seized only as an image which flashes up at the instant when it can be recognised and is never seen again. ‘The truth will not run away from us’ – this remark by Gottfried Keller denotes the exact point where historical materialism breaks through historicism’s picture of history. For every image of the past that is not recognised by the present as one of its own concerns threatens to disappear irretrievably (1968: 255).

In other words, the fragments of truth of the past are only visible as a contingent image, always under the threat of slipping away. This image becomes decisive in the continuity between past and present struggles. Benjamin argues against historicism and the claim that it depicts the eternal image of the past, and instead he puts forward an image of history as a constellation of self-standing experiences. The most valuable aspect of his theses on the philosophy of history is that they provide a non-linear conception of time, or to put it differently, a conceptualisation of time that breaks the hegemonic contract of time.

 

Myrto Tsilimpounidi


 

References: 

Benjamin, Walter (1968) Illuminations, trans by Harry Zohn. New York: Schocken Books. 

Tsilimpounidi, Myrto (2017) Sociology of Crisis: Visualising Urban Austerity. London: Routledge.