The first insidents of vandalism against Thessaloniki’s “signs of memory” (independent installations inscribed with historical information) have taken place within less than a month after they were placed on several historical city spots.
At Ancient Agora Square, one of the “signs” has almost been destroyed, having been marked with messages sprayed on it. Another “sign” located on the Valaoritou area has received a similar attack, but of a lowest scale.
The first eight :signs of memory” had been placed in a pilot-mode. As stated by the deputy mayor for Quality of Life, Mr. Constantions Zervas, the project made by the Council of Journalists for Macedonia and Thrace (ESIEM-Th) and the Municipality of Thessaloniki, in collaboration with scholars and institutions, includes the addition of 150 more “signs”, although the appropriate funding by the Green Fund is pending. These “signs” will be protected by a special cover which will prevent their damage by graffiti.
The”signs” vandalism demonstrated again the problem of vandalism which has affected a considerrable number of monuments in Thessaloniki. City landmarks, such as the Galerius Arch and the White Tower have also suffered by this problem.
“It is a plague”, says Vassiliki Misaelidou-Despotidou, head of the 16th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities. “Our restorers have developed methods of clearing monuments off graffiti but this is costly in terms of time, work and money. Most importanlty, it harms the city’s image and the monuments themselves”.
Archaeological services are sometimes so occupied with erasing graffiti or tags, that work in progress taking place in other monuments is delayed.
“Apart from the monuments themselves, which consist our cultural heritage, the city’s tourism is also threatened”, says Ms. Misaelidou.
Vandalisms also formed a topic for the Cultural Society of Bussinessmen of Northern Greece (PEEVE) which launched a campaign for cleaning significant monuments, statues and churches. They also found and funded -in collaboration with the Municipality of Thessaloniki and other institutions- a Swedish-inspired method of graffiti-clearing and surface protection from future attacks. According to the president, Stavros Andreadis, the whole initiative costed about 15.000 euros.
“We claeared the marbles surrounding the White Tower, the Emmanuel Pappas monument, sculptures made by Zoggolopoulos and Varotsos at the International Exhibition of Thessaloniki, the enclosure of Aghios Panteleimon in Egnatia, the Alaca Imaret and many more. Through our action we hope to offer the other citizens, especially the young ones, an example, as this is about our cultural heritage and it concerns all of us”.
After their clearance, all surfaces have been spread with a special wax inlay which enables the easier removing of graffiti in the future.