Anka Leśniak

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WORKS 2016

Monument Renovation

billboard, Fluc, Wien

Transcultural Emancipation
billboards exhibition curated by Ursula Probst

the project completed during the residency
of KulturKontakt Artists-in-Residence Programm

The work refers to the surroundings of the Fluc, the Praterstern and its characteristic points as a monument of Wilhelm von Tegetthoff and the famous amusement park. The monument as many other such memorials commemorates a national hero, the admiral of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his victory in the sea battle of Lissa (1866). The monument of Tagetthoff exists in the public space as a landmark, even if its meaning remains unknown to some people. It is located near a big railway station teeming with life, where we see the intersecting paths of locals and visitors, immigrants and tourists.

The aesthetics and themes of the monument show the values cultivated at the time of its construction, the period of imperialism, economic and cultural primacy of Europe and its military culture, based on patriarchal values. This 'consistent' image has already been challenged and 'infected' in many areas by various emancipation movements (the labour movement, feminism, LGBTI, subcultures). Currently, through the influx of immigrants from many parts of the world, European capitals have become more multicultural, where the strategy of mimicry is replaced by hybridization and fusion of different cultures and ways of life, this is already visible in public space.

By replacing the attributes of the figures from the monument, I would like to ask a question about the renegotiation of social values in Western culture. 'Alien' elements break the continuity and obvious narrative. Perhaps their presence reveals only a masquerade, a fake consistency of the patriarchal system based on exclusion and repression and centuries-old dominance of the Western world? Are representations of 'the Other' herald the end to European civilization or are they symptoms of its creative transformation?