De-constructing the Kifissos | Galateia

During his walks Alexander Schellow met Galateia, an 80-year old woman living in Kallithea, who today dedicates her life to feeding pigeons. The first post of our series «De-constructing the Kifissos» tells the story of this meeting by the river.

Frame of Galatea by Alexander Schellow

In July 2010 while walking the south-areas of the river very close to the harbor and Olympic stations, suddenly my attention was attracted to the sound of a large number of pigeons. In trying to find its source, I entered a small street behind the Piraeus subway-line – and indeed there were hundreds of them: sitting on the electricity-lines, the street, even on a dog, sleeping in the shadow. The day was very hot and dusty, the noise-level was pretty high, even if the very spot builds a quieter place hidden between the large streets and highways, the parking-lots, hospitals and massive traffic of any kind passing by. In the middle of the scenery, an old lady was caring for her house and garden: situated on the pavement, and built around a street-tree – a complicated construction out of plastic tarp, shopping trolleys, cans, carpets… though in its gesture of improvisation and temporary state, it was extremely carefully built, not at all a provisional home folded into the urban landscape. Galateia, as I learned, was living at this spot with “her” pigeons and a dog, feeding them, building bathes for them… I kept coming back and we began talking about the river, about her history and her projection of life. Meandering around a reality as it is or could be.

~ Where is the river?
Galateia: Here, a little bit further down.
~ But the Kifissos is now covered.
Galateia: It exists a little bit…a little bit of water is still flowing.
~They say they will fix it…because they are waiting to build the network from the side where the radio station is.
Galateia: Yes, yes…
~ A small part is left. Is there also a part in Kallithea?
Galateia: And even higher up…it starts from there, the northern suburbs.
~ Isn’t it covered there?
Galateia: No, it is not.
~ But in Kallithea, at the station, it is all covered, isn’t it?
Galateia: It goes under.
Galateia: It flows under the streets. Yes, they have done the same thing here. The same. It will be all…But dear gentleman, you know how it works here- as everywhere. Here in Greece, things are moving slowly. Why are you not going to the office of the engineer?
~ No, we don’t want to…We want to ask people at the site like you.- It interests us.

After a while…

Galateia: The official end of the river to the sea is Kallithea. From there…now with the games, they destroyed it. They covered it.
~When you came to Kallithea, was the river there? Then in ’62?
Galateia: Yes, sure. It wasn’t covered then. The region had also springs, streams and natural water.

…to be continued

The article series De-constructing the Kifissos was produced with and published by

Leave a Reply