Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Tanja Ostojic

After Courbet, L´origin du Monde

After Courbet, L´origin du Monde

Tanja Ostojic. After Courbet, L´origin du Monde, 2004.

Presented on the rotating billboards in the frame of EuroPart exhibition in the public space in Vienna December 2005/January 2006. The work was removed after 2 days as a result of enormous media scandal at the point when the Austrian Prime minister was about to overtake the chair in the EU. Over hundred of articles and over thousandth of readers comments witness about it in a very interesting and complex way. The poster 3,5 X 4m size was reerected on the fasade of Forum Stadt Park, Graz from January-March 2006. Over periods in history nudity is revolving in the public mirror, but taken for its symbolic value in society it frequently served as a carrier for another message in the first stance. Besides the composition and the reference to the title (L´origin du Monde, “Birth of the World”, oil on canvas, 1866, 46 X 55 cm, by Gustav Courbet), beyond the image my reference to Courbet is appending directly to his position as an artist, who was concerned with the 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. The painting l´origin du monde remained hidden more then 120 years in private collections and is on the display in the Museé d´Orsay in Paris since 1980-ies. In a consequent thought I believe this recent interpretation of mine wouldn’t have provoked the mass media scandal if the blue underwear wouldn’t feature the EU flag on it at such a problematic moment in Austrian political reality. In the tradition of my earlier works like “Crossing border series”, and the “Integration Project” 2000-2005, I continue my critical view on the politics of exclusion and the issues of bio-politics in the EU. The body of the women on the picture – myself - belongs to somebody that does not belong to the EU territory, somebody that speaks from the migrant women perspective and has been discriminated because of not being citizen of this elitist political & economical space. As the European Union states are sharpening the control over non-citizens, the immigration police e.g. even have since long time praxis of checking-the-warmth-of-bed-sheets in intermarriages between EU- and non-EU-partners. The fact that the art works of mine have been removed from the rolling boards in Vienna caused much turmoil in art circles in Austria in particular. Without doubt it is censorship that shows dangers for the future of arts in Austria - especially when it’s about art with political content, critical art, women artists, artists from outside the EU territories, public funding in arts, removing or covering serious political content from public eyes... The work became – and even more – present in the digital media and publications, that is a priori a public space, and aperently some much more constructive and more intellectual debates happened 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 official political executive power but fails the purpose since it actually multiplies the content to the most remote corners of society.


Courbet, Origin of the World, European Union, Media Scandal, Political Scandal

Looking for a Husband with a EU PassportAfter Courbet, L´origin du MondeTanja Ostojic and Marina Grzinic: Politics of Queer Curatorial Positions: After Rosa von Praunheim, Fassbinder and Bridge MarklandExchange in post nationIPersonal SpaceVacation with Curator

Naked Life

Berlin, :

Berlin, :

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