iNo: a masked graffiti artist and modern-day Athenian street philosopher

iNo may hide his face, but there's no hiding his feelings about the political situation in Athens today.

"I don't ask permission because people who govern our society don't ask permission from us."

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      Ancient Greeks had Epicurus and Socrates to guide them in their moral thinking and behaviour. In 2015, Athens has iNO, a masked vigilante of a graffiti artist whose large-scale murals offer the sort of wisdom and insight that politicians are rarely able to articulate in words.

      Pseudonym: iNO

      Age: Unknown

      Hometown: Piraeus, Greece

      The art needs to speak for itself. Who I am doesn't matter.- iNO

      Graffiti is the most public form of visual art, but Piraeus native iNO prefers to keep his identity private. "In general, I prefer not to show my face or tell things about myself. I feel that's not the point."

      But not all surfaces are fair game — iNO has a distinct sense of the boundaries between public and private spaces.

      "For me, it's not right to invade someone else's property. If it's a public wall, it's different. I don't ask permission because people who govern our society don't ask permission from us to do things. So why should I ask them?

      Visual language

      "I prefer to speak in images because it's more approachable," says iNO. By freeing his work of text, he believes he can reach more people.

      Although some of his art has a decorative focus, many of his pieces are driven by social issues. "I deal with social themes in my art. Most of the themes represent social stigmas — how humans become slaves of their own creations, be it in money or in politics."

      On his mural work "Random Future" 

      “In a country that has been financially destroyed by the politicians, crisis is rising. After the endless lies, the people don’t know what to believe. Will the handlings of the new government bring a better future or will they totally destroy the country? Welcome to our random future.” - iNO on the story behind "Random Future" (Courtesy of Productions Emergent)

      "[Random Future] depicts a family in Greece. They just had a child and they're sad because they don't know what's going to happen, if they can even provide the basics.

      "I know these people but I pixilated their faces because they symbolize all the Greek families who are trying to build their future but they cannot have a healthy family because they don't know what's next. It's done purposefully in a working class suburb of Athens, which actually happens to be where I grew up."

      Follow iNO's work on Instagram and learn more about the ideas behind his giant murals on the next Interrupt This Program. January 4 at 7/7:30 pm NT on CBC.