Stories of Resistance in Greek Street Art: A Cognitive-Semiotic Approach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In line with cognitive semiotics, this paper suggests a synthetic account of the important but controversial notion of narrative (in street art, and more generally): one that distinguishes between three levels: (a) narration, (b) underlying story, and (c) frame-setting. The narrative potential of street art has not yet been considerably studied in order to offer insights into how underlying stories may be reconstructed from the audience and how different semiotic systems contribute to this. The analysis is mainly based on three contemporary street artworks and two political cartoons from the 1940s, visualizing the same frame-setting, which may be labeled as “Greece vs. Powerful Enemy.” The study is built on fieldwork research that was carried out during several periods in central Athens since 2014, including photo documentation and go-along interviews with street artists. The qualitative analyses with the help of insights from phenomenology show that single static images do not narrate stories themselves (i.e. primary narrativity), but rather presuppose such stories, which they can prompt or trigger. Notably, the significance of sedimented socio-cultural experience, collective memory and contextual knowledge that the audience must recruit in order to reconstruct the narrative potential through the process of secondary narrativity is stressed.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Visual Arts


  • narrative, narration, street art, phenomenology, primary/secondary narrativity, cognitive semiotics, semitoics, narrativity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-48
JournalThe Public Journal of Semiotics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch

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