Press Articles In English
Landmine victims as artistic disturbance
IN THE EYES of these women academics, Miss Landmine is suspect social pornography and a contribution to inner disfigurement. I think they are mistaken.
Firstly, I’d like to underline that Miss Landmine as art is relational aestethics, where the point is to generate social processes. “Don’ ask if it’s art , but what art can do”, is the creed of one of the pioneers, Joep van Lieshout. Traavik’s project kick-starts exciting processes concerning both disabilities, evaluation and bilateral aid.
THE WOMEN OF Miss Landmine have lost a leg after having stepped on a landmine in a war-stricken country. When Traavik stages his beauty pageant Asserson and Sangolt interprets it as a”cattle market” for the weakest, and, according to Traavik, Western aid organisations have turned down the project as a freak show. This last term points towards a funfair-related enterprise where people with physical anomalies exhibit themselves for money. This phenomenon has long been considered a stain on history, but in later years it has been rehabilitated by culture scholars.
A BEAUTY PAGEANT in genre-conscious bathing suits sets the scene for the lustful masculine heterosexual gaze, which is disturbed by the visible amputations. For some, this isn’t a disturbance but a sexual preference, almost a fetish, a theme many will recognise from TV documentaries on TV Norge [Norwegian TV channel – ed.]
I MYSELF was challenged in a similar way, when I participated in a radio debate discussing the grant Traavik had received from Arts Council Norway. The studio host asked me what I would have said if Traavik had invited me to participate in a Mr. Hairless pageant, referring to my own personal physical deviance. A bit perplexed, I could feel the ambiguity. It certainly felt uncomfortable that my own syndrome could be the subject of a pageant, but at the same time the though of being staged in that arena was exciting.
LASTLY, IN THEIR CRITICISM of Traavik, Sangolt and Asserson finds it particularly revolting that the exhibition is being shown in the Leprosy Museum, on the grounds that disease and blameless war victims don’t belong together. An alternative interpretation is that the Leprosy Museum is also a monument to Armauer Hansen, a man who was convicted for having injected a woman with leprosy germs in a medical experiment.