integration project

IŽll Be Your Angel
By Tanja Ostojic

Provocation is a speciality of mine. My experience tells me that while art cannot quickly change social or political reality, it is important art not be apolitical.

My need for direct communication led me into using my body and personality as a medium for art works. Sometimes I radically „sacrifice” my intimacy to confront certain existential, social or political subjects. „Looking for a husband with EU passport,” an interactive web project addressing gender and capital, criticises the ex-politics of Yugoslavia, and describes the collision of isolation, poverty and the elitism of European Union politics. [link]

The personal contemporary space of individuals and human relationships, in and out of art circles is in crisis. How can one revitalise essential human values through art? The Venice Biennale attracts the world press, art lovers and professionals; it seemed a natural opportunity to pose these questions here.

„Black Square on White,” made of pubic hair on my Venus Hill, allows me to reconstruct a previous artwork (Personal Space Photo Series 1995-96) in a very different context. Only the Biennale director, Mr. Harald Szeemann, will have the right to see this „hidden Malevich” in order to declare it an official part of the 49th Venice Biennale. Walking around Venice during opening days, elegantly dressed, my work of art will be hidden. This intervention can provoke a reinterpretation of Eastern European spirituality, and non-material ideas; it is essentially about trust and power.

„I’ll Be Your Angel” consists of my accompanying Mr. Szeemann during the opening days around Venice (including cocktails, dinners, press conferences). I will be naturally performing as his escort - his Angel. This piece, integrated in everyday life, poses potential ambiguous narratives concerning the scandalous artist (and the curator). It provokes an invitation/invasion, and questions the power structure in the art world. Speculations of morality, and artworld strategy will spin out; while the press will possibly construct a media support for this, it is not necessary. The structure of the piece is the process of mystery, both personal and public, encased in the glossy gossip of artworld whispers.

Why such a radical strategy? The Venice Biennale is a global phenomenon: A tourist attraction, a financial party of the art world, an intellectual soup; yet, it happens that many art works in Venice are either missed or misconstrued. So, I asked Harald Szeemann for his collaboration. His openness and trust of the potential nature of me „being his escort and his angel,” owes a critical debt to him. He is a respected and powerful personality with a „loaded name;” he becomes the material for my work and a „guarantee” for a platform for fragile questions.

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"I'll Be Your Angel", 4 Days performance, Plato of Humankind, Venice Biennale 2001. Photo: Giorgio Boato [Big Version]


The opportunity to make an active/interactive artwork out of Mr. Szeemann proves infinitely rich and complex. It allows me to blend the immaterial and intellectual in a process-oriented work, a work that is not only „officially” sanctioned, but also „unofficially” snakes in and out of the language of the art system.


Venice Biennale Unofficial Chronologies

„Would You Digitalize Your Soul” / „Death Is In My Sight Today” was realised as a set of posters and flyers, and unofficially exhibited on the streets on the occasion of the Venice Biennale 1997, together with Sasa Gajin. This work attempts to stage for the conflict of real communication and contemporary digital systems of understanding, which are focused largely on speed and little else.

Two years later, following the NATO bombing campaigns of Yugoslavia (and by chance) the elections in Italy, I conceived of my own campaign for the international crowd at the 1999 Venice Biennale: „I want you to ask your government's responsibility for the consequences of bombing Yugoslavia.” I again personally distributed posters and postcards (in four languages) during the opening days of the Biennale.

In both exhibitions, I took very serious concepts–the dissolution of the self in contemporary life, and the destruction of life in neighbourhoods–and visibly (almost forcibly, but with a smile) opened my ideas for communication, interaction and contact.

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