Territory

It might be London and Belgrade? Having read more information about your work made me realise how heavily specific ‘Tempo’ and ‘Lily’ in particular are to your immediate and very localised reality in Belgrade, and in Serbia. Beyond site specificity, you seem to be targeting cultural, social and political particularities in a very very specific way.  It’s the ‘very very’ in your work the both fascinates me and the very part I have problems with. What I mean precisely is your over the top logic carried through to its logical conclusion in one after another action of aggressive ‘insertion’ or actual physical ‘penetration’ into society, culture and politics as represented by a ritual, media or institution.  

I find I can follow your logic and perhaps even agree with your motivations or empathise with your plight but up to a certain point beyond which I only find it frightening? Your ‘Wedding Project’ was problematical for me from the point of view of the actual people who’s wedding you were crashing and at the point you use their wedding to illustrate your view that weddings are a socially and culturally constructed ritual empty of real meaning and significance and devoid of ‘love’.  However, as I’ve said before, I could and still can empathise with your ‘outsider’ position and could find beauty and value in the pathos of your repeatedly setting yourself up for rejection in that way, in the flawed and failed logic of it, returning weekly to the same ritual knowing full well you’ll never be one of them. ‘Tempo’ and ‘Lilly’ are more activism than art to me. How do you see them? I’m still struggling with the very real ethical issues in these pieces and your positioning in relation to them. It seems to me that you’re attempting to criticise the system through the logic of participation which in my view puts into jeopardy the very critical distance you are trying to maintain in that you become a part of the system you are trying to disavow. In both ‘Tempo’ and ‘Lilly’ my concern is that you initial criticism of capitalism fuelled by Serbia’s nationalism (in ‘Tempo’) and Serbia’s social taboos in respect of gender roles and sexuality (in ‘Lilly’)  is in my view compromised by your disproportionate reaction by which I mean a type of activism that is tantamount to assault and terrorism? While I admire your over the top logic and ambitious resolve and have no doubts about the passion behind your actions, I’m deeply uncomfortable with your breaking into a shop and frightening the general public with bomb threats. Does the fact that men in Serbian society should be able to walk into a beauty shop like Lilly and not be discriminated against justify you organising what is effectively a 200 men strong rape? Why would you do that? You’re only reinforcing the very “patriarchal”, “male” behaviour you’re fighting against? The  moment you act out your carefully laid out plan in reality the“ “ are not there anymore. And it’s the same with ‘Tempo’. Your approach is somehow heavy handed, you know. And I know you probably expect me to say that, but I think I have a valid point here. For instance,  you would have to think a lot more carefully how you represent your work in the art realm after the fact of the act and develop a greater sensitivity in handing such ‘very very’ material in order to effectively implement it into a vehicle for consciousness and change and not end up alienating yourself and everyone else.

Maybe it’s about territory again? Maybe in Belgrade, Serbia your actions are not perceived as aggressive as they seem to me? Maybe I’m a product of my politically correct and socially and culturally sensible (if not sensitive) Western world view? Maybe something is lost in translation? Territory? Maybe this is why I see you as an angry young activist and you see me as a sexually charged fairy?

So at the end, I’ve come around to our talk at the beginning, around territory. Perhaps, as you suggested, I could do with marking some territory and can I suggest in return that you could perhaps become less territorial? For instance, I’m prepared to say that as much as your work seems to be about ‘penetration’ my work is about ‘seduction’ and I’m prepared to open up for discussion the sexual and seductive elements in my work which I am mostly reluctant to go into. Why? Why me? Why you? Fertile territories… way beyond Belgrade and London don’t you think?

Love,

Ana

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