Tanja Ostojic

Looking for a Husband with EU Passport

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CountryGermany / Serbia
Date2000 - 2005
Medium/DimensionsParticipatory web project / combined media installation
CreditsCourtesy of the artist
VenueCCA

Following the violent breakdown of Yugoslavia where she was born, in 2000 Tanja Ostojić placed a personal ad online accompanied by a photographic portrait of the artist in order to find a husband from the affluent European Union. Shocking in its exaggerated nudity, the portrait literalises the non-subject of ‘bare life’, as discussed by philosopher Giorgio Agamben. The artwork continued through the artist meeting (in a public performance) and marrying a German man (also an artist), moving to Germany where she was eventually denied permanent residence and concluded, in 2005, with a divorce.

Tanja Ostojić’s Looking for a Husband with EU Passport remains an emblematic exploration of the biopolitical arena as the context of both life and art – being performed as a nightmarish realisation of the historical avant-garde’s wish for the transformative fusion of life and art. The work unfolded in the span of five years, from 2000 to 2005, and took the artist’s life rather than the artist’s body as its plane of execution.

The work stands as an acknowledgement of how exclusion from an assumed land of economic privilege can be constitutive of subjectivity. It also exposes the means – specifically available to women as hyper-sexualised brides in arranged marriages – that facilitate entry into an affluent geography. Looking for a Husband with EU Passport offers a sobering deconstruction of the idealised migrant as a necessarily revolutionary subject, exploring instead this subject’s potential capture by a capitalist imaginary. Despite however its melancholy meditation on belonging ‘in the right side of capitalism’, the work affirms the uncontainable desire and continuous struggle for agency.

 

Photograph Borut Krajnc