Three-fold intervention about Dirt and Cleanliness: installation with stickers, audio installation and performance

presented at group exhibition: ”Affectionately Yours”, curatorial project: “If I can’t dance I don’t want to be part of your revolution”, DAI and Wyspa Institute of Arts, Gdansk, Poland, May 2010 /////

Impersonating a sanitary control agent, viki semou inspected the space, the objects and the people visiting the exhibition. What or whoever had been approved was stamped or noted with a sticker. As an anti-statement, in the toilets of the exhibition space, an audio-piece on a loop talked about the power structures integrated in the definitions of what is dirty and what is clean.

More specifically, the sanitary control started with the inspection of the envelops that were handed out personally to promote and advertise the event. Inside them, there were notes, fragments, cards, whatever each one of the participants wanted to imply or say about their work before the exhibition. They were all approved. The control continued with inspecting the way to the exhibition spaces, through the shipyard where they were located. Not everything was inspected, not everything was approved. Then, the exhibition spaces themselves followed.

During the opening of the exhibition, as a sanitary control agent, the artist stood at the entrance of the exhibition. controlling who could enter or not. She was pointing to whoever looked ‘suspicious’ to her, asking them strictly and stifly in greek to step aside. An assistant of hers would take them aside and check their faces. If approved, they would have to lift their sleeve and get stamped

The audio installation sheds light on the toilets as the site of our everyday purification rituals, as a private area, as a dirty place nobody talks about. but also as an area of communication of dirty, forbidden messages. Most of all, in this case, as an area of propaganda of opinions and statements that do not have the room to be expressed elsewhere.

hygiene-sample of the audio piece

In this project, dirt and cleanliness, are approached as an affective pair, that saturates all aspects and scales of our lives. It is stated that notions of what is clean or dirty are inscribed on space, objects, patterns of behavior, the body and that we affectively communicate our point of view about them. ‘Hygiene’ points out:

  1. the arbitrariness of such definitions of dirtiness and cleanliness;
  2. the direct connection of such definitions to control when approving what is clean, and rejecting what is dirty.
  3. at the very end, that there are power relations created through this whole process that are as well arbitrary. Because whoever defines what is dirty or clean and can check and control the application of these definitions is in a position of power concerning the rest of the people.


The project has been also presented as a video-lecture-performance in Dutch Art Institute, in June 2010.