Docu #8: Ostojic / Statement

APA: your image has been called misogynist and sexist. can you imagine why? did you intend a reaction like that? why can't people stand to see the lower part of a woman's body?

T.O.: The Austrian tabloid Die Krone labeled this work pornographic despite the fact that there is no visible sexual organs on the picture nor has it been created to provoke an excitement of such kind, while the same yellow press paper is publishing images of naked women with an explicit erotic intention on a daily base. Die Krone could raise their edition with this superficial campaign and then moved on to new sensastions. A big part of the remaining press unintelligently overtook the media-scandal definition…

This work has been previousely published and on display already in Austria, but also in Canada, the U.K., Germany, the U.S. …in the form of being printed in Art Magazines, as a photography (46 X 55 cm) in art exhibitions, or as part of slide projections within my performance “integration impossible” and during lectures in Universities and public presentations. Several female and feminist theorists wrote on my work and a discourse of sexism was never brought intro discussion in any of the above mentioned situations and I am sure that it doesn’t apply.

APA: your image is referring to courbets "l'origine du monde". would you have expected that 140 years later, the image of a not even naked woman can still be provocative enough to become a scandal?

T.O.: Over periods nudity alone is revolving in the public mirror, but taken for its symbolic value it sometimes served mainly as carrier for another message. Beyond the image my reference to Courbet is appending directly to his position as an artist, who was concerned with class struggle during the time of the Paris Commune and believed in an emacipatory role of art in society. His art works have been banned from shows and he was as well arrested primarily of political engagement.

In a consequent thought I believe this recent interpretation wouldn’t have provoked the rumour if the blue underwears wouldn´t feature the EU flag on it.

I use to deal with serious content sometimes utilizing radical aestetics – nudity included (e.g. “Looking for a husband with EU passport” ad, 2000-2003) in order to point out certain problematics explicitly. Experience tells me that it is the inner message actually causing a provocation, not the directness of my female body that is used.

To go back to your question, my interpretation of “l´origin du monde” is of course even much less naked then Courbet´s model.

APA: which kind of thought about or pondering on the european union did you intend, what is the political/esthetical remark you wanted to make?

T.O.: In the tradition of my earlier works like “Crossing border series”, “Looking for a husband with EU passport” and the “Integration Project” 2000-2005, I continue my critical view on the politics of exclusion of the EU -  even in a far less obvious way than in previous projects.

The interpretations of the message may be manifold, depending on who looks at it – for some the birth of a unity, for others the prevention of the latter, or for some the increased difficulties since not being part of the “new cover”. An invitation for the desired status?

As the European Union states are sharpening the contoll over non-citizens, the immigration police e.g. even check the warmth of bed sheets in intermarriages between EU- and non-EU-partners.

It is somehow sobering that even oppositional entities were unable to read and point to the real subversive elements that this work is carring but were rather repeating the media scandal slang of die Krone.

In my opinion the curators could have provided the media ahead with a detailed press-release focussing on the content of each single work, so the public could have an access to information in time.

As one can see knowledge/education neutralizes or at least minimizes an reactionary outburst.

What remains is a danger for the freedom of artistic expression, art in public space, future funding in arts in Austria, as well as a cover-up of various political problems.

Since I didn’t follow the local 25pieces campaign over the year, I learned to late about the big frame of the entire series – which I now retrospectively find highly problematic.

For the posters there was no intention whatsoever to work to a topic like an “advertisement for the EU” – and to invite artists to work on the topic of changing european geopolitics should be open for critical positions, since they reflect individual standpoints.

If the aim would have been to make a slick commercial line, than the concept should have never left the spin doctors office for the open field of culture.

APA:  possibly, your image will be removed by the curators due to public and media pressure. your thoughts if it is?

T.O.: The fact that the images have been removed from Vienna´s streets does not mean anything to me personally. Without doubt it is censorship that shows dangers for the future of arts in Austria  - especialy when it´s about art with political content, critical art, women artists, artists from outside the EU territories.

The work is still – and even more – present in the digital media that is a priori a public space and I hope very much that still some more constructive and more intellectual debate can happen on top of the mainstream reaction.

What brings us to the absurdity and hypocrisy of the removal for moralistic reasons, as that act serves only as a manifestation of an offical political executive power but fails the purpose since it actually multiplies the content to the most remote corners of society.

In Belgrade, January 4, 2006

(For Austria Presse Agentur: LINK)

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