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The "EU Panties"
In December 2005, Ostojić became well known in Europe as a result of the "EU Panties" poster, a satire of Gustave Courbet's L'Origine du monde. Ostojić's version displayed her own crotch, clothed in blue underwear complete with EU stars. The image was meant as an ironic suggestion that foreign women are only welcome in Europe when they drop their underwear.
Along with other works from an ongoing art exhibition, this poster was selected to publicly promote Austria's presidency of the Council of the European Union. Vienna's Kronen Zeitung newspaper turned this selection into something of a scandal, expressing its outrage over state-funded pornography and its concern for Austria's world image. Anxious politicians of all parties quickly joined in, resulting in the poster being taken down. Since then, the picture - which had already been shown several times without a title in 2005 - has been informally known as the "EU Panties" (German: EU-Unterhose).
Ostojić's grand theme is the "arrogance of the EU" with regards to the integration of south-eastern Europe into the union. For south-east Europeans, and particularly women, becoming resident in the EU is often only possible through marriage, which Ostojić depicts as a form of prostitution. From 2000 to 2003, she publicly addressed this issue in an online performance piece, "Looking for a husband with a EU passport", in which she presented herself naked and with a shaven head, possibly reminiscent of a prisoner from socialist times. This led to an actual marriage to an artist from Cologne, from whom she then separated in 2005, again as an online performance.
At the Venice Biennale in 2001, her performance "I'll Be Your Angel" involved her following around the independent curator and art historian Harald Szeemann - who had at his disposal a significant budget - for days, all the time simply smiling fondly at him. The one-time "great subversive" Szeemann did not see the funny side of this, however, and made sure she was excluded from all his projects.
(Translated from the German Wikipedia article): "If the image of a woman's body can be seen as a political statement when it comes to the EU presidency, then what about the reality of south-eastern European women who in the year 2006 are still being sold as commodities in the EU? Over here the fictitious woman lies in an apparently lascivious pose in the picture, and over there the real woman stands on the corner or is confined to a brothel. It is a paradoxical image."
- Grenzen. Anton Lederer, Datum, January 2006. (German)
- Tanja Ostojić’s Aesthetics of Affect and PostIdentity Bojana Videkanic, ArtMargins, 10 September 2009.
- Wiener Wirbel um ein Courbet-Zitat Der Standard, 9 January 2006. (German)
- Artist portrait: Tanja Ostojic culturebase.net.
- Austria Drops "Porno" Posters From Sex-ed up EU Campaign Deutsche Welle, 30 December 2005.
- Scandal in Austria: Art or Porn? Marion Kraske and Annette Langer, Der Spiegel, 1 February 2006.
- Archiv: Tanja Ostojic University of Arts and Industrial Design Linz, 14 January 2010.
- Fall 2005 events: Artist Lecture: Tanja Ostojic "BODY - KNOWLEDGE - PASSPORT" University of Pittsburgh.
- This article incorporates information from