Lonely Planet Writer

Streets of Athens turn into sprawling art gallery

The city of Athens has invited local street artists to undertake the city’s telephone line distribution boxes and transform them into works of art. (They are called KAFAO from the German acronym KV – KabelVerzweiger and most are installed on the pavements of the city).

This is Athens – Polis Project. Image by City of Athens / Athens Partnership

The artists have submitted their proposals online and, after the selection process, they will be provided with materials of their choice, free of charge, to complete their work. The Athens Partnership organisation which is behind this action, will cover the finished works with a protective anti-tagging coat and add a plaque with information about the artists and their work.

This is Athens – Polis Project – only a couple of phone boxes have been completed so far. Image by City of Athens / Athens Partnership

The Art on KAFAO project, is part of a wider initiative (This is Athens – Polis) to clear more than 20,000 square-metres of walls from graffiti, tags and illegal posters and is a follow up on the successful Commercial Triangle project that was completed two years ago, when more than 8300 square-metres of public surfaces were cleared, old buildings were put back to use and six streets were pedestrianised, all with the support of private business donors.

Part of the Commercial Triangle Project. Image by City of Athens / Athens Partnership

The wider aims of the joint venture’s initiatives are to “upgrade infrastructure, pedestrianise central streets, redesign cleaning and municipal police services, and renew urban equipment”, in other words to “restore the proper functioning of the area”.

The aim of the venture is to clean up the city’s streets. Image by City of Athens / Athens Partnership

Alexandros Kambouroglou, the executive director of Athens Partnership told Lonely Planet: “the Historic Centre of Athens hosts many architectural treasures, which are often covered by graffiti and tags. We are cleaning building facades and inviting Athens’ vibrant artistic community to create on a public space canvas. With over 100 commissioned works in the city centre, visitors and residents will enjoy a sprawling open space art gallery unlike anywhere else. “

Words: Vangelis Koronakis