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The reason - an exhibition of Serbian painter Boris Lukic... I run in thinking that I will finally catch my breath, when I experience the complete opposite - I lose it!
Instead of impressionist landscapes, or even avant-garde (at first glance always incomprehensible symbols) on the walls of the embassy, while I drink juice, I am greeted by a naked voluptuous female body in a rather provocative pose!
"Uh, I did not expect this," it occurs to me ... "Not in the residence of some embassy".
Granted, the explicitness of this artist has me quite surprised so I decisively, long ago "professionally deformed," push the end of unknown diplomatic faces to get to the author.
From my mouth hovers "preparation" from the review with Boris' words that I read somewhere earlier that this "series of paintings called" Femen is "actually an artistic exploration of contemporary forms and manifestations of the female body in visual culture and communication, as well as social activities."
Boris greeted me with a smile on his face, ready for the question: Do you think anything has changed in Serbia by displaying paintings featuring naked women's bodies?
- The pictures alone did not change much. However, it is not possible to say exactly. Perhaps some individuals, judging by the reaction. However, this exhibition also had a different quality. It is primarily related to the organization of the exhibition as an event. For that I can thank my manager David Laufer and his ability to put things in the right way. Aswell as the understanding and kindness of the Swiss Ambassador Jean Daniel Ruch, who hosted this exhibition, and promoted it better than many of the curators I know would have - begins Boris and continues:
- The exhibition was of semi-closed type, in the sense that the opening could be by invitation only, and that the follow up visits had to be announced. This caused a flood of reactions, among those who thought it was illogical, and those who wanted to come to the exhibition. I think we have not yet given an interview in which the reasons for the organization was not set up as a question. It is very important for the future of the local scene and I think this is just a start. People are accustomed to going to exhibitions, mainly those in which there are famous artists, thinking that only by doing so they are venerated, patting them on the shoulder and making them immensely happy. This shows our relationship to art. I think that this exhibition shows it can be done differently, and that different standards can be established.
How do you "defend" yourself against potential "Puritans" and have you had any unfortunate encounters because of this art?
- I'm not sure who I shocked with my pictures at the exhibition. I am often shocked when people have such a reaction to my paintings. I'm not sure if their reaction is sincere or it seems most challenging at the time. Pictures are not aimed to shock ... Before, they were there to point at something, ask, give the opportunity for a different experience watching naked female bodies, etc. Although, maybe it is shocking today, I do not know. I know, for example, when TV Pink visited the exhibition, they told me that my pictures were too graphic to be recorded in their favor. So we had to record the interview in another room, after which the reporter asked to be photographed with me in front of the image. It says a lot about the attitude towards this topic. I'm not trying to defend myself from anyone. I love following the reactions of people and I try to learn something from them, as often happens. The artist is often a balance between the rational and the unconscious. It's in the job description, so it happens that sometimes you guess in essence more than you're aware of. The reactions of people point this out, or you return from a false illusion, which is very unpleasant, but useful.
At the sight of these naked bodies, one begs the question where and how do you find the models?
- These images are the result of my thoughts, feelings and affinities. They were made solely as a personal need. I'm not inclined to believe in what we call the current inspiration. The basis of ideas can occur at a certain point, but after that survive a serious development, preparation and verification. Models are mostly my personal friends. That is very important. It means a lot more to me to know the life story of the model, or what they carry in themselves rather than their physical apperance. Before starting to work with the model we pass a series of talks and interviews that mainly determine how the image will look like and what idea it will portray.
Did conservative delegations that had the opportunity to come to the embassy seek that the images be moved?
- I do not know about that. Although, I must admit that the thought amuses me. It speaks of the importance of the way we look at a naked woman's body. That's precisely why I started to work on this series of images. The naked female body as a subject acts as a normal daily basis, but as you see, says much more about the society in which we live. It is the platform on which much more can be said than it seems at first. As Slavoj Zizek would say: "All that is sexual is political."
Some time ago you said that representations of nude female figures have parly to do with feminism?
- In these works, I do not want to deal with feminism, although it may look like it, but rather the effects deriving from it. Something related to causal consequences, if we may call it so. I'm taking some form of active feminist groups, but I am much more interested in changing the viewing angle on the subject and the result of all this, rather than feminism itself. Still, I think that they are both important and that it bears primacy in civilizational changes that we are witnessing. Such was the case in the past. The display mode of Adam and Eve in the beginning of Christianity was not only talking about two naked people, but he was carrying the message of vast civilization changes that followed.
You are currently working on new paintings in this series?
- The exhibition in the residential Villa of the Swiss Embassy has helped me, and like every exhibition, allowed me to take a closer look at what I've done so far. To sharpen my mind and better my pictures in the future. For future projects, we have scheduled an exhibition in the gallery "Nest" in Geneva in early October, and it is now my first priority. There are many ambitious plans for the next year or two, but what I learned from the Swiss is that things are going step by step, thinking only on the one currently in focus.