A walk around Thessaloniki’s White Tower, the city’s symbol of freedom and one of the central meeting points where citizens gather to rejoice national or local successes has turned into a hub of restlessness. The cries of joy from a far-away victory in the European Football Championship under huge screens set up along the waterfront under the imposing presence of this historic tower in 2004 have turned into enraged cries, pleas for help, threats against treacherous politicians.
I took my camera along on a Monday morning to let posterity see what a Greek demonstration looks like when the demonstrators have left to rest before putting on their armor for another peaceful fight for freedom in the afternoon.
The Tower told me a story. Lifeless pieces of paper stuck awkwardly on cold marble and rigid stone, half-torn, others somewhat faded, some with blatant political party ideologies imprinted or implied which nonetheless bespoke the truth – all had one thing in common. They all drew a vivid canvas of a society that is coming out of hibernation, of a reality that is changing in a city which is known for its slow, easy-going pace of life that conceals a muted passion, an indescribable zest for life.
The scenery is changing here in Thessaloniki as it did 99 years ago, when it broke free from the Ottoman Turks, when a blood-spattered prison took on a symbolic meaning and was rechristened White Tower.
The messages under some of the pictures read:
-The Golden Boys talk to you about your problems on the 8 o’clock news.
– If you regret your vote, hit your head here.
– What flies above nations but isn’t a bird? Immaterial financial capital that controls, extorts, buys out, that can’t be controlled by the government.
– It is beautiful that we, the thousand of the thousand of thousands of people, face [the situation] united. We can win, WIN.
– I don’t participate in polls.
– We know what happened. We know who’s responsible. The people’s time has come. For their destiny.
– It’s raining a lot. It’s raining indignation.
– If TV said so, then it’s probably a lie.
– No thanks, I’ll stay chipless.