athens rising, straight up!

A new movement against the ancient ruins.

by Alexandra Manatakis
26 September 2017, 7:34am

This article was originally published by i-D Australia.

It's rare to meet a more humble group of young artists than those in Athens, their humility stemming from an eight year economic crisis and an continued uphill battle against a deeply conservative government. But, as history has always shown, from pain comes the most powerful art. Greece's economic upheaval has informed the city's creative scene in profound ways, and as Athens slowly begins to regenerate, an world of DIY musicians, models, artists, designers, and stylists make their mark against a backdrop of gold ancient ruins. The pulse of the city is beating again.

Dennis Green, 29, DJ

What's your life like in Athens? Unfortunately, it's hard to live in Athens. Things in the crisis made things worse for all of us. There's limited opportunities for jobs and it's difficult for young people and artists to earn a living. The crisis has really changed Athenian industries, but this entire situation has created a very DIY scene, which is cool.

Evita Manazi, 18, graphic designer

How would you describe Athens's creative scene? Athens's creative scene is very interesting. People are motivated and want to create despite the pressure of the crisis. We're seeing exhibitions, performances and parties happen more and more often.

Mike Vasilakis, 26, pro skater & model

What do you love about Athens? I love the 24/7, 365 state of mind. There's endless wildlife in the space between ancient and modern culture.
What is it like to be young in Athens? It's a beautiful disaster, full of smiling sunsets and sunrises full of teardrops.

Hara Christu, 23, research design assistant

Have you seen the city change through the crisis? Well, I moved to Athens during the peak of the crisis. Hearing stories of locals of what Athens used to be like makes me envy the times I missed out on. It sounded like a film where summer was eternal and the troubles were small. I think a lot people have a sadness in their eyes. That glimmer of hope slowly turns foggy, and I hope truly that the sun will shine again in their eyes and not only in the sky.
How would you describe Athens's creative scene? Athens is a melting pot of creativity. It's free and a little bit lawless if viewed from the eyes of Europe, thus people have this feeling in their art. A little bit aggressive, but full of character. Kids are not afraid to express themselves, they aren't scared of what might happen next. We've been through the future so to speak, we have encountered problems bigger than ourselves now we move forward ready to face it all again if we have to.

Joseph Mouzakidis, 20, artist

How have you seen your city change since the crisis began? The sad truth is that I've seen a lot. Small shops close everyday, companies shut down, people get depressed, Greek youth become refugees. I believe it's all about how you choose to get through everything, what we do here as creatives is my secret formula to escape.
So what's it like then to be young in Athens? It's funny because being young in Athens actually means freedom! There's tons of inspiration and creativity. It means that you dream a lot. This city has always got you in overdrive. I don't think I would like myself, who I am today, if I'd grown up anywhere else in the world.

Kareem Kalokoh, 23, artist

How would you describe Athens's creative scene? Athens's creative scene is still in its early stages, but thanks to the internet things are growing. Corporations have started embracing the scene, and that makes me happy.
How've things changed since the start of the crisis? It affected everyone. People's smiles were wiped from their faces, everyone became more about their "own business" and survival. It affected me, but I don't let it distract me from what I want to do.

Valeria Chrampani, 22, stylist and vintage seller

What do you love most about this city? The welcoming atmosphere. There's this feeling of meeting friends and family everywhere, that's something I couldn't find anywhere else. But even though Athens is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, being young here is a struggle. Opportunities are super limited and so few of the talented people in this country can find a job.

Alesia Saliente, 21, model

What do you love most about Athens? It's my hometown, it's where I grew up. It's such a beautiful historical city too, and I really like the freedom the city gives you. There are so many worlds and cultures within the city you can explore, that really excites me. I still enjoy walking around and admiring the ancient beauty of the city.
What's changed since the crisis began? The city and the people have changed for worse. So many suffered, because most people didn't expect it to happen. A lot of us young people are unsure about future, but the criss has brought stress to both young and old. Building my own future is hard, and the crisis just makes it ten times harder.


Photography Christos Tzimas

straight up