Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The virginal origin of the world

Needless to say, this work by Tanja Ostojic is a reference to Courbet's Origin of the World:

Produced by the 25Peaces collective, it was supposed to be a promotion of Europe, and from what I understand, to participate in the campaign in favor of the European Constitution (in 2005, if I am not mistaken). As the image was posted on huge billboards, it was considered too radical and was taken off. And the Constitution lost the referendum.
But what is the actual message? Is it 'the origin of a new world'? It seems more like the beginning of something that can never be born. Instead of the origin, instead of the troubling, but real, thing, we get... panties with stars. Thank you very much. Where exactly is this Europe supposed to originate? Oh, and the retouched skin, the pure atmosphere of soap commercials and soft porn... It reminds me of Jeff Koons. And I'm not sure that's where I would like to see my Europe. Then again, I'm not sure Orlan's earlier variation on the Origin of the World motive would be convincing in a political debate:

Any other alternatives?

Tanja Ostojic's work was accused of misogyny. After writing the above words, I found a fascinating interview with the artist, who clearly states that the objective of the work was not to promote the EU ideals, etc., but it was created beforehand, namely as a comment on the EU's politics of (non)intergration. Now it makes sense. Ostojic actually seems quite upset about the context the work was shown in and the idiotic way it was treated by the Austrian media. Her site also made me discover another, impressive work by Ostojic: Looking For a Husband with an EU Passport (2003):

Wow. This hurts. I would call this a hard core artistic attitude. In that it doesn't have any problems with exploring what is too intimate to be shared. Nudity is a common, though not at all necessary element. It is really about exposure. Maybe, about making us feel uncomfortable. Do I like it? Is there any way one can like it?

(partly via)


Peter said...

First, let me say that I discovered your blog recently and have found it very informative. Thank you.

Second, I have to respond to something. I hope this sort of discussion is welcome on your blog. If not, I'm sorry.

I don't think that these images are particularly hard to take. It seems that intimacy is a natural resource dammed by our leaders and used by them to build empires, so it is not good to cultivate an attitude of alarm toward nudity. That is only to donate more energy to empire.

If the artist is protesting the subjugation of the female body to cultural texts, such as those imposed by the fashion industry, she would to best not to subjugate it to her own political texts. I find in Ostojic's images a desire to exploit nudity for her own ends, which actually perpetuates the distance from the body created by pornography. She robs nudity of its immediacy.

To subjugate the image to words, that is to texts, is to act out the oppression of the body rather than to oppose it. I see in these works the moralistic motive: opposing a "sin" is actually a justification for indulging an obsession with that sin.

a said...


further down in dirty postcards for your alternatives. love love the blog.



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