By Murray Bourne, 28 Apr 2008
On my recent visit to Greece, I was struck by the amount of graffiti. Even on the imposing 3500 year-old Acropolis that watches over the city of Athens, people have carved things into the walls.
It was also kinda nerdy to my eyes because the graffiti looked somewhat mathematical.
Here's the first one. It is easy to spot theta (θ), and 2 instances of upper-case sigma (Σ). In the bottom right of the picture, there are 2 upper-case lambdas (Λ) and a rho (Ρ).
Here's a pi (π) and an upper-case delta (Δ):
The above carvings were on the 8 m high walls built as fortification of the Acropolis by the Mycenaeans in the 14th century BCE.
Here is the view of the Parthenon from that wall:
If you are rusty on your Greek letters, check out Math? It's all Greek to me.
Other Graffiti in Greece
Here's an attractive building messed up by random bits of graffiti.
The following mural is on the side of a public transport maintenance building. At least this one has artistic merit.
Having lived in Singapore for 11 years, I have become used to zero graffiti (well, OK there are little bits here and there). Singapore has strict laws (and punishments) for those caught defacing property.
Graffiti certainly messes up the urban environment.
See the 6 Comments below.
19 Jun 2008 at 5:02 am [Comment permalink]
Graffiti *is* the urban environment.
19 Jun 2008 at 8:13 am [Comment permalink]
Madeline, are you suggesting that graffiti is inevitable and there is nothing we can do about it?
Singapore's experience proves otherwise...
19 Jun 2008 at 11:12 am [Comment permalink]
Not at all - graffiti isn't inevitable. I just think of the "urban environment" as something very unnatural and man-made... it reflects the people that live in it. Regardless of whether or not you appreciate graffiti, it is part of urban culture. It is worthy of just as much cultural appreciation as the buildings and parks and sites in any area.
The lack of graffiti in Singapore is a part of the area's culture, I'm sure. It reflects the people and policies. All the same, the graffiti in Greece reflects the thoughts of the people and the policies of their leaders. This is what makes an urban environment, I think!
24 Aug 2008 at 3:11 am [Comment permalink]
I think graffiti can contribute and improve the urban environment - especially if the authorities have a good clean up program. Remove the bad stuff and some property owners or councils will be happy to leave the best. Banksy in the UK is so famous that is graffiti is worth 100,000s of pounds. Two people were actually prosecuted last year for painting over with white emulsion a Banksy work that was essentially a tourist attraction in Bristol.
16 Dec 2008 at 7:21 pm [Comment permalink]
Oddly, in Riga where I live, graffiti is considered by many as normal. It's ubiquitous, and a first time visitor from the States might conclude that Riga is full of violence from thugs, which isn't the case. I think graffiti has different meanings according to different cultures, and it isn't always meant to "make the comfortable uncomfortable and the uncomfortable comforted".
3 Feb 2009 at 12:33 am [Comment permalink]
Graffiti is the voice of the people. When the people are oppressed and silenced, as in Singapore, you will see the government taking any steps needed to frighten and intimidate these acts of free speech. Property rights are a man-made concept. We own EVERYTHING, and nature or the public whole owns NOTHING. Graffiti, despite its content, is a measure of taking that back. In a world with an order more complicated than we can understand, everyone strives to make right angles, perfect circles and blank walls. Plato can teach us that this is all the realm of :forms: and that reality looks much like a wall filled with graffiti, many different voices calling out from the darkness.