Graffiti as a Form of Social and Cultural Conflict: The Greek Case
Graffiti. The Greek case. A form of social and cultural conflict. Graffiti can be described as an image, a game of colours on a large surface, which the anonymous writers wish to cover in order to express their anticonformistic view, their difference to any standard means of communication, their resistance to group membership and collective expression. However, this paper argues, that despite their distinctive expression, they seem to form a group, since they share common methods and actions, which have similar socio-political implications. In order to categorize the similarities and differences between the various "graffiti groups", the paper focuses on two distinctive groups of writers, based on the prosperous, elitist north areas and the impoverished west suburbs of Athens, mostly inhabited by immigrant populations, or working class Greek people, who often experience feelings of xenophobia, racism, fear of otherness and a threat to their cultural identity, or job positions. In Northern Athens, one can observes the multiplicity of graffiti forms such as comics or disfigured faces. The image is elaborate, harmoniously coloured, accompanied by English captions, mottos, rock or rap songs. The cultural identity of the Writer is clearly marked. In the Western areas, graffiti covers a more asymmetric space, less daring or intense, depicting something short-lived. The words or symbols reflect the origin of the immigrant writers, who seem to reject the school, the property, or the factory that turned them down. It can be suggested that through graffiti the immigrant writers express a "combative defense" of their marginal existence and possibly sketch their desire to be remote from the country of origin and approach the host country. In the north suburbs graffiti is evaluated as an original aesthetic proposal, whereas in the west suburbs as a symbol of the subculture of the immigrants.
Keywords: Graffiti, Conflict, Immigrant population, Greek people
Dr Evaggelia Kalerante
Prefecture of West Attika
Dr. Pelagia Mormori
University of Piraeus