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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 89 | volume XVI | March-April, 2013



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                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 89March-April, 2013
Gallery Reviews

Ars erotica female way

(Reflections on the exhibition “Keep calm and have a vagina” by Biljana Vasileva, opened in MKC in March 2013)


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Ana Martinoska

    Biljana Vasileva’s work began to kick up dust well prior to the official opening of her recent one-man exhibition, thanks to the social networks, where she posted a few photos of her paintings, probably intended to serve as a tease for the exhibition. It was obvious from the comments that nudity and sex, even when it comes to their artistic presentation, are still a benevolent provocation. Although the public has widely accepted (the) notion that we live in an extremely sexualised culture in which sex is all around us, “attacking” us by the media on regular basis to the extent that we should no longer react to it, the example of just one photo of Vasileva’s paintings showed, in a very plastic way, that its artistic representation is still a taboo and a sensitive zone. I choose not to get into vulgarity, embarrassing conversation, let alone offensive sexist jokes directed to the author, which I have read among the comments, nevertheless, I shall hypothetically ask a few questions provoked by this debate, and of course by the exhibition itself: If history of art, and even Macedonian art, is full of erotica, why does it still cause such hostile reactions? Are naked bodies and scenes of sexual acts already stretching the thin line between erotica and pornography? What is considered obscene (vulgar) today? Why is it acceptable for women to be objects of erotic art, but not authors? Is there still a double standard for women and men? Finally, where does this need for phony moralizing come from in the 21st century?
    

Undoubtedly the exhibition is intriguing with the very title “Keep calm and have a vagina”, a title that according to Vasileva “is deliberately provocative, in order to attract attention, to pose some questions about the situation in gender spheres, as well as in political and sociological spheres in general.” (Slobodna Evropa). Given that “ Provocation and shock have been part and parcel of western art from the modern period onwards – testing, pushing and expanding the established aesthetic parameters is closely linked to intellectual, religious, ethical and legal concerns of the time.” (Mey, 2004: 12), Vasileva’s motivation for this artistic experiment is quite clear, openly and consciously raising many dilemmas and breaking many taboos. It is obvious that “Vasileva expects different reactions to her 17 canvases, acrylic and oil, 8 acrylic oils on wood, small size and 15 drawings,






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