Last winter and spring we met the Finnish artist Lucas Vogt in Athens and ended up hosting him in our office and exploring Athens and creativity with him whilst assisting him with a few projects.
He had been traveling in a camper van through Eastern Europe and the Balkans for several months doing research for a documentary film; interviewing artists, organising workshops, urban studies, and discussing with locals about local news and global phenomenon. Currently he is on the road In Europe again. We asked him to write some words about his Greek adventures for us as an insight into his artistic travels.
One series of workshops I have been organizing involve local artists painting on my van somewhere in public. Elements of music and performance are often included as well. When I started on my journey from Finland the van was completely white like a blank canvas. Throughout Eastern Europe I ran into graffiti writers and street artists who all added to what is now accumulating into a very colorful and layered collage of different aesthetics. As far as direction, I’ve tried to emphasize this collage aspect by encouraging a new piece to comment on or somehow interact with what is already there.
I believe it is important to promote more room for creative expression in the urban public space. What I've noticed in the Eastern Bloc countries is that practicing street art and graffiti is still loaded with a counter-culture mentality, and that practicing it openly on your own property, but in the public space, leads to interesting reactions from people passing by. Athens, on the other hand, is the most painted city I have ever seen. This over-saturation completely neutralizes the art form in the eyes of the public space. Instead I invited two groups of children to participate in the workshop.
The first round was held on the ancient battlefield of Thermopylae, where there happens to be a refugee hotspot. Mohamed, a refugee himself, volunteers as a teacher at the hotspot and he helped me coordinate an action together with a group of around thirty children, who ecstatically scribbled, colored, drew, and wrote on the van with markers.
Greece has been in the news a lot lately due to the influx of refugees from the on-going civil war in Syria. But immigrants and refugees are certainly no new phenomenon for Greece. Within what is being described as BlockArt in the neighbourhood of Psirri in Athens one can find the Galleries Sarri 12 and Exit and The Holobiont Project offices, as well as lots of street art. Furthermore, the area offers free drama classes for local kids every Saturday and I had the pleasure of organizing a workshop with nine first-generation migrant children aged 4-9.
Youth workshop in Psyri from Lucas Vogt on Vimeo.
Johan, Abdel, Tahrim, Mohamed, Jodi, Mariam, Mona, Alexander, and Franklin were given a short pep-talk about creativity and encouraged to decorate the van however they saw fit. Besides acrylic paint markers, they were equipped with a megaphone and a video camera. Almost all of the shots in this video were filmed independently by the children themselves.
Follow the continuous adventures of Lucas through his blog, Instagram, Vimeo and Facebook accounts:
Underbart att se din Stream of Creativity som du öppnar och ger rum för på Planeten Terra men som säkert vibrerar genom bra Cosmos, kram och pepp från mig, Saga
This is peace work at its best😍
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Holobiont Production Team