Wall writing

Slow Death

The picture featured is an exceptional composition with various drawings that depict the refugee situation, with various symbolisms. It was drawn on the front door of the ‘Softex’ hotspot in Thessaloniki, which functioned as a temporary camp for about two thousand people. Previously, the building had been abandoned for a long period (it was formerly the site of the Softex paper factory).

What one can see drawn on the surface is a few shadowy figures of various sizes, ages and genders walking an up hill road. Hard, as hard as the refugee route is. Actually, they are walking on a razors’s edge. The figures’ shapes are reflected on the razor’s surface, in the same way they would be reflected on water, in a river or in the sea. The edge drips some sort of liquid. The material is pencil so there is no colour, but one could suggest it is either tears or (most possibly) blood. In the middle of the razor there is a human skull, on left side of which reads ‘slow’ and on the right side ‘death’. Like the torture of waiting in a state of stagnation and imprisonment in the camp during the hot summer, when what is felt as most important is to move forward. The scenery is, at least, dramatic. 

If one looks from a further distance, the main depiction is surrounded by two further figures, these drawn in the style of caricature. On the lower right, there is a soldier pointing a machine gun at the people walking on their way, as though he is forcing them to leave their places. His face is devilish, referring to western traditions. His moustache reminds one of World War II leaders. A friend remarked that it is possibly depicting the Syrian President. On the upper left, another caricature, this one most obviously reminiscent of the current German chancellor. 

Further drawings and writings are displayed, offering an organic dynamic appearance, as palimpsests present. Like they were created in time. Another character intervenes as an extra layer. It is looks like a child’s smiling face, childishly drawn, very possibly drawn by a child’s hand. Random layers of Arabic writing with marker and spray paint add to the whole composition. The figure of an eye is included, as well as a few traces of iron works on the metal door that look like the material’s wounds. They must be traces made by real fire; they fit together with some other brownish or faded red colour strokes that look like traces of real blood. A few tiny blue duck figures stamped by a child’s toy stamp are evident of a child’s contribution to the picture, making it even stronger and more unique. Children would be playing in front of the former warehouse, numbering, then, a few thousand in the ‘hotspot.’ Questions arise: who were the artists, and how many similar pictures did they create during their long route? A local artist who occasionally worked in the camp said that both the central drawing and the two main caricatures were drawn by a 50 year-old Iraqi man. His tent had been pitched right next to that door.