2008 - My Wife Threw Me Out

My wife threw me out

My wife threw me out is an installation performed for a week in Aglantzia, a small municipality of Nicosia, Cyprus. Armed with very basic amenities - food, water, electricity, clothes, a bed - this mobile ‘home’, a white caravan, ‘secures’ a place in a public square, and artist, Panikos Tembriotis, is there to perform this imagined, or not, refuge for seven days. Might it be the birth of a camping site? A ‘homeless’ man trying to start a temporary public life? An urban ‘Berliner’ unwilling to give up on the loss of the prospect of creating new communal life in a public square?

Positioning himself in a public square puts Panikos Tembriotis at both mental and physical challenges. An exposed fantasy and an exposing gesture of realization that something has to change. Inviting passers-by to respond or partake in whichever way they desire, Panikos Tembriotis, provokes us to lay a hand on a particularly current urgency - at least in many over-indulging, capitalist societies - to join with intimate strangers, if only for an endless moment. The ‘collaborator’ might be gracious but s/he could also be hostile. Implicit is the unpredictability of the ‘community’ being created, however, the artist takes responsibility for the eventful possibilities, which he allows to be created.

Is Panikos Tembriotis’ performance-installation a tempting place where more and more people/artists, today, are looking to rest outside consumerism? 
The stress induced by the gap created between consuming material and losing a sense of community spirit seems to be an inherent response to a post-globalized isolation. Is Tembriotis’ performance a re-enactment of an other life, promisingly simple, sensitizing, and fulfilling? In tune with the ambivalent title, the artist holds a photograph of Marilyn Monroe, engaging his audience by showing them a picture of the ‘wife who threw him out’. This is not a morbid ‘mass-produced’ image of Andy Warhol’s Monroe, but a small single photograph of a female icon, who is inimitable and priceless. Yet, the artist seems to suggest that Monroe is a treasure to be protected from an urban and industrial, corporate art market.

And so does this gesture leave him ‘homeless’ in return? Or is it a celebration of another possible world. Over a year ago, the man who lives without money, Irishman, Mark Boyle, parked his caravan from the organization Freecycle, on an organic farm in Bristol. He is the founder of the Freeconomy Community, an online organization of 17,000 members sustaining an alternative economy during the time of a global economic crisis. My wife threw me out addresses both a personal and a social crisis, where the two are not unrelated. 

In 2002, Marina Abramovich took refuge in New York’s, Sean Kelly Gallery, for twelve days. Without speaking or eating, in an oath of silence and fasting, if you will, Abramovic opened a ‘‘private’’ experience into the public, pushing, once again, the boundaries of what is uniquely human and humanizing. In the tradition of Performing art installation, where blurring the boundaries is necessary, Panikos Tembriotis agrees playfully to an open ended ideation with his audience in order to enhance a human relation engulfed in possibilities. Through performance he establishes his own existence as an artist, via time and space. However, the installation itself explores the experience of  an audience leaving space and time as object relations. Open-endingly, we may wonder, whether the ‘visibility’ of the performer’s body is important? Must the artist be ‘present’? 

 

Maria Petrides
Writer