According to the Greek daily newspaper Ta Nea, this pink lace embroidery montage displays an Arab woman and her bomb belt “heroically” obliterating an Israeli supermarket:
(The photo caption has the artist Alexandros Psychoulis stating that “I am trying to get into the psychology of a person who is preparing the vests which women wear in suicide attacks.”)
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“KAMIKAZES IN SUPERMARKETS.” (Ta Nea, 6.10.03)
by Mary Adamopoulou
Embroidery in the dimensions of a pink room. “Body Milk,” which is the name of the new exhibition of Alexandros Psychoulis, harbors unexpected and not so pink surprises.
First scene. A pregnant woman is pushing a cart in the supermarket. Next to her, knitted women’s vests with a lot of outside pockets like the ones worn by Palestinian women in suicide attacks are spread out. The apparent image of tranquility and peace stops when one glances further down. In the second scene:a blown up supermarket – shelves, products, human parts have become one. It is the new artistic exhibition of Alexandros Psychoulis, the distinguished Greek artistic creator and assistant Professor at the Department of Architecture at the University of Thessaly, which bears the name “Body Milk” and will be hosted in the “a.antonopoulou.art” Gallery.
The issue may seem political. But its creator has a different point of view. ” I personally feel that the experiment of Israel has failed and I understand the desperation of a girl who carries out a suicide bombing having nothing to lose. But politics does not essentially concern me in the specific work,” he explains to “Ta Nea.” What interests me is the relation between the woman and the supermarket either during a turbulent time or good times. What is it that ultimately makes her feel pleasure in the specific place.”
Kilometers of pink thread, patience and humor were the materials for creation, since the work was made with a knitting needle. “It is a piece of lace that required great patience and a year’s work by six people to be completed,” explains the artist. But why did he put his digital work aside and take up embroidery. “The lace is related to the issue which is purely female and the fact that I gathered all my information from the internet. Because the internet user has great similarities with lace-makers. Just as they were alone and trapped their dreams and desires in lace, in the same way the internet user is seeking what he desires (information, products, etc, through a click of the mouse. If every click was a dot on the wall we would have a lace work of art.
In reality, I am carrying out an unusual transfer. I am transferring the digital experience to my personal experience. And at the same time I am presenting the issue of utilizing time on the borderline between the proportional and digital era. Because when knitting, the lace-makers had unlimited time. I am stealing time and trying to stop the speed of information, trying to simultaneously capture its importance.
A real story was the motivation for “Body Milk” a title that brings to mind both female cosmetics and human milk, according to Alexandros Psychoulis: that of an 18 year old Palestinian girl, Ayat Al Akra, who carried out a suicide bomb attack last March in a supermarket in Israel. “When I heard the news on television, I didn’t pay much attention. By coincidence I came across her portrait on the internet. She was a very beautiful girl, educated, in love, that one could meet anywhere. Continuing the research on the net relating to suicide attacks I discovered a detail. An army of women who in the past had carried out similar actions had chosen the supermarket as their place of action, whereas men primarily preferred cafes and buses. Why were women therefore choosing the market to express their greatest protest?
I observed my female friends. They feel at home and complete in the supermarket. They move like they know its code of operation, like those women who placed the products on the shelves, while I search for hours for what I want and leave with broken nerves. I came to the conclusion that the supermarket is a woman’s space. Perhaps because by her nature woman is a provider and the supermarket operates like a super female provider, magnifying woman’s nature. If she therefore blows herself up there, perhaps she will feel like she is magnifying her existence and her act.
THE TRAGIC LEVITY OF PINK
And why is all of this in pink? “Unbeknownst to her my wife helped me in choosing the color. Even though I initially bought black string, I saw her glance captured on the pink,” he answers. “And I decided to finally use it, because black would be tragic. With pink one can say the most tragic thing with the most light way.”