Sex, Work and Society (A work in progress)

06 Mar 07 20:00 > 30 Mar 07 24:00 Red Dawn 8

Opening performance: Maja Savić (Serbia): Cigarette Girl (text: Jet Moon)
Exhibiting: Jelena Radić, Goca Belić and Milica Ružičić (Belgrade), Julia Wieger, Elke Auer, Esther Straganz, Eva Jantschitsch and Eva Egermann (Vienna).
Guest curators: Ivana Marjanović and Vida Knezević (Kontekst Gallery, Belgrade).
The artists explore relations of power, desire and gender differences as consequences of the different legal treatments of sex workers, clients and sex industry.

The following text captures a discussion between Ivana Marjanović in Vida Knežević from Kontekst Gallery from Belgrade:
Ivana: How and why we are here?
Vida: Jadranka from Gallery Alkatraz invited us to take part in Rdeče Zore festival with an exhibition on the topic of prostitution and trafficking of women. We did not want to approach the issue on a classic curatorial approach – to choose from already existing works that happen to fit into our concept. Instead, we wanted to invite a group of artists and activists who would explore the topic together with us and create new works for this occasion. Although it is not easy to produce such a project, it is much more productive for all of us in the terms of research, thinking, and engagement. We have also decided to continue the work and present it in Belgrade in May 2007. The exhibition in Alkatraz is our initial step.
Ivana: What is important is that we have invited artists from both Belgrade and Vienna since we wanted to explore the ways in which different historical, social and political circumstances affect our thinking about sex work and trafficking.
Vida: After doing some research, what do you think about our initial idea to make an exhibition about prostitution and trafficking? I remember that meeting people who are interested and involved in the topic and discussing our plans with people from Vienna made me realize that we were absolutely ignorant, that prostitution is not a public issue in Serbia. We have never heard the expression “sex worker” and never heard about different opinions about sex work as a matter of choice for some and a matter of sexploitation and victimisation for other people.
Ivana: Yes, that’s right… It is important to speak out in public. I have to say that initially I was not sure how to approach the issue. We come from a white, educated and well situated background that is radically different from that of a Romani street sex worker in Belgrade. Of course, this is only one point of view: sex work is a very complex issue with many different aspects: historical, social, psychological, economical and other perspectives exist. For instance, not all sex workers are poor. Also, thinking about sex work has lead us to analyse our own lives in this perspective and become aware of just how deeply sex economy is involved in our own histories. While thinking, researching, and working on the topic we have all asked many questions.