Am I supposed to talk or just remain silent, being your mirror?
Can you see me?
Or do you only see yourself in the mirror on my body?
Look at me!
This mirror doesn’t belong to me.
This mirror belongs to Valie Export.
This mirror used to be about media and gender.
This mirror used to be the limit.
Can you see me?
Can you see the square between my legs?
This square is not mine.
It belongs to Tanja Ostojić.
This square used to be about history and repetition.
This square used to be the limit.
Look at me!
I am a thief; i am a pervert, a queer, making these two women come together on my body.
I am a bastard.
I am the outcome of migration.
Ja sam perverzna ćerka jedne migrantkinje koja je ostavila Jugoslaviju iza sebe.
I am stealing art that was not made for me.
My mothers were not making art, my mothers were cleaning and fucking and raising bastards like me in the suburbs of big cities.
I am the one who was supposed to remain silent.
Ja sam ona koja je trebala da ćuti.
I am the burning flesh of antagonism.
I AM PURE DIFFERENCE. I AM THE LIMIT.
Look at me and look at yourself, as you are involved, and you are not innocent!
Look at yourself in the mirror of my body and tell me:
Who owns art?
Who owns bodies?
Who owns property?
Who can talk, and who remains silent?
Expanded cinema. In 1969, VALIE EXPORT expanded the parameters of cinema with her body. In a cinema in Münich, she appeared wearing trousers that displayed her genitals. She did it in order to show that the division between the stage/the screen and the audience is not only a question of media, but also a question of gender. VALIE EXPORT, as a feminist, placed herself in opposition to men in order to establish a different point of view than that of the male subject and the female object. Today, engaging as a general “woman” subject has become difficult for many reasons. We see ourselves faced with the end of identity politics, where being a woman is not enough. Global neoliberal capitalism has made phallocentrism its highest order. Raised to an abstract level, the power of the ONE (phallus) is reducing every antagonism to a set of identity differences that can be evacuated, controlled and normalized. The question is how to act in a world of abstraction and empty signs, and how to find a position in a state of exception, where one is continuously watched and supervised?
As VALIE EXPORT did, I use my own body in a media installation that provokes self-reflection. The audience is projected onto a naked square in-between my legs and is involved in the closed circle of power. If strategies of feminism have to be articulated for the present (and this is my intent), then it is necessary to put them into a broader setting of politics and histories. This means that after 40 years, VALIE EXPORT’s work Aktionhose: Genitalpanik (1969) cannot remain a silent reconstruction. We have to ask: Who is allowed to speak and can take the position of an active subject?
It is not by chance that the space for projection in-between my legs is a square. This refers to Tanja Ostojić’s square in-between her legs of 1996, which is a reference to Kasimir Malevich’s “Black square on white” as well. The naked square in-between my legs becomes reality through my skin and shaved genitals. In this space, migration has come to a point where it can no longer be made invisible by the politics of nation states. Migration is real and needs to be articulated. As a child of migration, who came to live in Vienna from ex-Yugoslavia, and was supposed to remain silent and without a voice, I want to talk exactly about this history of differences. I want to put this story of difference in the center of Western European feminist arts. I stole VALIE EXPORT’s work to articulate my own migrational history, which is situated within dominant Austrian culture.
I am not situated within the binaries of male/female. I am a queer subject. Being queer means being a thief, not only of the phallus, but of everything that it includes: power, property, bodies, etc.
Ana Hoffner ex-Prvulović is a performance artist working in the fields of queer and migratory politics.