ATHENS (Oct. 9)
A Jewish group is threatening to call for a boycott of the 2004 Olympics if an art exhibition that allegedly glorifies Palestinian suicide bombings is allowed to proceed in Athens.
An embroidery montage in an exhibit called “Body Milk,” scheduled to open Oct. 20, shows a pregnant woman pushing a cart down a supermarket aisle. Next to her are knitted women’s vests with multiple outside pockets, similar to those worn by Palestinian suicide bombers.
The image of tranquility and peace ends in the second part of the montage: A blown-up supermarket is shown, with shelves, products and human body parts jumbled together.
“Body Milk” was created by Alexandros Psychoulis, an architecture professor at the University of Thessaly who is well-known in Greek modern-art circles.
Psychoulis says the exhibit is not intended to be political.
“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,” he explained to Ta Nea, Greece’s largest daily newspaper. “But politics does not essentially concern me in this specific work.”
“What interests me is the relation between the woman and the supermarket, either during turbulent times or good times,” he said. “What is it that ultimately makes her feel pleasure in the specific place?”
Psychoulis credits his wife with the idea of presenting the exhibit in pink. “Black would be tragic,” he said. “With pink one can say the most tragic thing in the lightest way.”
But the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Paris expressed horror at the exhibit.
“Over 450 innocents, including women, children, elderly, have been murdered and thousands maimed by suicide terrorists in the last three years in Israel — the most recent only four days ago in a jointly Jewish- and Arab- owned restaurant in Haifa,” the Center’s director for international liaison, Shimon Samuels, wrote to Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis.
Samuels said that the center would call on Jews around the world to boycott the Olympic games in Greece if the show is allowed to open.
The exhibit would fan “the anti-Semitic campaign currently underway in the Greek media,” wrote Samuels, demanding that Simitis “take immediate measures to abort this obscenity.”
If not, the letter warned, “the prospect for terrorism will have been enhanced in the context of the approaching Olympics. Indeed, the very ideals represented by the Olympic flame will have been impugned in the land of their birth.”