Melding Stories | Every Given Night in Athens…

Article published on Jan. 22, 2012
community published
Article published on Jan. 22, 2012

From Meld blog

As I was sailing the waves of www a couple of months ago, I came across the imposing image of a ”hungry baby” pasted somewhere on an Athenian wall. I was compelled to send a friend request to the street artist on FB and happily enough he responded immediately. From our initial conversations, I realized that STMTS, the young man of 18 years of age who is attending the School of Fine Arts in Athens is a very passionately creative and socially active human being. Needles to say, I asked him to invite me to his next action.

A couple of weeks later, the phone rings and what do you know, we were on! In utter excitement I called my friend “Ryme” to join me and film-shoot the action.

I arrived at 22pm at the metro station of Panepestimio, a winter Athenian night. As I exited, on my right I could hear the not very computing sound of drums and in astonishment I witnessed a group of nude African dancers from the waist up, probably part of some ethnic festival taking place in the city for the people to see. This city is always surprising… Across the street I finally meet STMTS and one of his collaborators, John. They came fully equipped: ladder, self-made glue, brushes in hand and Avanti popolo!

true_meld_1.jpg Image Courtesy of Ryme63/StateofMInd & Innoir

STMTS looked around and finally picked a dark, quiet spot to avoid messing around with the authorities. He explained to me that he was very much concerned with vandalism, and one of the reasons he did not use stencils, nor spray paint was to avoid hurting his already wounded city. Instead, his art is applied on cut out paper and, as any other poster, is easy to remove and leaves no traces behind. I was very moved and happily surprised to find out that –contrary to common belief- there is a part of the youth who really care and are still engaged in the well being of their city! I was about to witness the birth of an artwork made by an 18 year old socially conscious and responsible, sensitive person…a real artist.

The boys began their process by making their own glue and pasting their blown up image on the wall. As the first part of a baby face was coming to life, a security guard approached suspiciously and asked us what we were up to. “Just an urban art intervention,” we said. “Ok do you know you are right by the door of the Ministry of Labor?” he insisted…a fact that had escaped us, but nevertheless, intensified the ad hoc action and the conceptual aspect of it. Regardless of the warnings of the guard, the boys continued the posting. As they had proceeded to the center-piece of the face, a car came out of the ministry’s garage and 30 seconds later, a police team appeared.

Tension rose as one of the officers asked again aggressively what on earth we were doing. The young artist showed him his School ID and tried explaining calmly what a street intervention was as the law enforcement representative was now angrily protecting the establishment, screaming the familiar ”The law is the law!” “But we are not spraying, we are pasting! In the same way than these posters for strikes and manifestations that are posted right here, next to the Ministry door! Look, right here there is an “apergia” poster announcing the next strike!”, I showed him in protest and to our defense.

truemeld2.jpg Image Courtesy of Ryme63/StateofMind & Innoir

The relentless policemen were getting impatient as they were chanting their mantra: “the law is the law” and they threatened to call in their superiors. By that point we were circling the police and begging to be understood. The younger officer seemed to have some compassion, but almost apologetically told us that the decision was not in his hands. Suddenly, an older gentleman who looked authoritative, came out of the Ministry watching the scene with a perplexed look. I, keeping my calm, explained to him our purpose, the situation and how important it was that the young Athenian artist was not vandalizing the city, but beautifying it with a meaningful, thought-provoking image that was carrying a very important social message and a dream for the future.

The gentleman from the Ministry took the police aside, talked to them gave him his own personal information and suddenly out of the blue, with the authorities okay, we were back in business! That was one of the magical and most hopeful moments of that evening, where two completely different generations joined together under the same cause. Thank you Athens!

truemeld3.jpg Image Courtesy of Ryme63/StateofMind & Innoir

Half an hour later, “le baby” was born! A powerful, big and beautiful image of a baby with a pacifier carrying the universal nuclear symbol on it! A conceptual expression of deep, unsettling concern for the endangered future, not only of the city of Athens, but of the entire planet!

I will always carry this nocturnal experience in my mind and in my heart. I will always remember the hope it gave me, as I realized the fact that the new generations to come are and will always be finding their own ways to express themselves, with no support from the State and the public sector in its whole. I will remember that it all came to life from a deep desire of self-expression, far stronger in effect than the rebellious trio “sex, drugs and rock and roll” that has been the vehicle of many generations.

I will always respect and expect more from the young artist who told me that drugs, sex and rock roll are not enough to make his heart beat fast, and that in order to face nihilism, stagnation and lack of purpose in our times you have got to be creative. And that once you commit to creativity, then magic and change starts happening…

truemeld4.jpg Image Courtesy of Ryme63/StateofMind & Innoir

Thank you STMTS. Thank you Ryme, Innoir, Dawkinson, DJ Booker, Ioanna, and John for making this possible.

And thank you Athens for your Magic!

Text by Maria Dawkinson & Karenina