Undaunted by the removal of graffiti which adorns many buildings in Athens, street artists promptly spray-painted the walls again almost the moment their work was removed and vowed to continue taking over the city.
City officials last month went on a campaign to remove graffiti which they said is an eyesore and all over the place, but the vandals have returned with a new assault.
A few days after municipal crews scrubbed graffiti from the entrance to the Varvakeio meat market on central Athinas Street, someone painted graffit on the building’s rolling metal shutter on a main street near City Hall without being seen.
It was removed again but the vandals said they’ll just keep doing it until the city gives up and lets them use walls, shutters and whatever they want as their personal canvas.
Critics said the cleanup campaign launched by Mayor Giorgos Kaminis aims to deflect attention from more fundamental problems, such as growing poverty and unemployment and others said not allowing street artists to paint whatever they want wherever they want stifles free expression and is heavy-handed suppression with right-wing authoritarian overtones.
“Kaminis, no wall will be left untouched,” said a newly sprayed slogan near Monastiraki Square, which was scrubbed away by municipal workers. Kaminis took to Facebook to defend what he was doing. “Public space belongs to everyone and no one has the right to pollute it, to appropriate it, or to destroy it,” Kaminis said.
“I am sure that this view is shared by the majority of the city’s residents, which is why they have welcomed the campaign to prettify the facades on the center’s historic streets with enthusiasm,” he said.
Kaminis pledged he will do what it takes to clean up the capital. “We will keep removing (such graffiti) until it becomes understood that this type of behavior is not tolerated by the majority,” he said.