Supported by the Museum of Contemporary Cuts, the Mediterranean Garden pavilion on the New Sea Waterfront of Thessaloniki has a contemporary art installation by Lanfranco Aceti, curated by Camilla Boemio. Known internationally for his socio-political stances and performances that have taken place over the past thirty years, the artist has conceived a site-specific installation that engages directly with the theme of the Thessaloniki Biennale, Imagined Homes. He has created a public window into the dismantling of contemporary society, its crisis and the consequences on the private home. Through the metaphorical and physical act of ‘airing the dirty laundry,’ the artworks speak of engendered social frameworks, body conflicts, and political individual freedoms that have been dismantled and betrayed.
“I wanted to address this crisis as a breakup between lovers,” explains the artist. “It is the end of the relationship between two people, one of whom embodies the nation-state and the other the collective citizens. It is the aftermath of a quarrel and the lovers have separated. They are both leaving the roof under which they shared dreams, hopes, and cares. The nation-state—embodied in a physical person—is constructed and imagined as a selfish patriarchal, individualistic, and immature man. The people—conceived as one single feminine body—are imagined as a woman with matriarchal values of community, self-sacrifice, and support.”
In the imagined narrative of the artist, the lovers are parting ways. The artworks contain a frozen moment in which objects—once expressed as tangible metaphors of partnership and living in the home—are now being divided and discarded. What is left of this relationship is on public display in the Mediterranean Garden pavilion within which Aceti, by engaging with the architectural elements, creates reflections of visible and invisible spaces tracing the lines between private, semi-private, semi-public, and public engagement. The remainders of the relationship are the artworks made of discarded sheets that bare the traces of the bodies and the now forgotten relationship. These are objects that are disposed of, thrown out from the window of a private home onto the street. The dirty sheets, soiled with bodily fluids, are not only a record of a past relationship but also simulacra of a social and political collapse of wider relationships in the Mediterranean. The sheets and the writings upon them offer—in contradictory terms—both a visible public record of the violent oppression of living together and the hope for the possibilities offered by the re-acquisition of freedom. The writings on the sheets are curses that can be addressed to anyone by substituting