#hatebetter in Context

By , 18 May 2019, 08:36 AM Lifestyle
The poster in question, reproduced three times to fit the format of this site better The poster in question, reproduced three times to fit the format of this site better Katarina Stegnar, used with permission of Festival Performansa

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Visitors and residents of Ljubljana have recently been able to experience a billboard sized poster in several locations around town that demand a second look, if not a third or fourth.

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In the wild. Photo: ©Miha Fras for Festival Performansa

As seen at the top of this story, at first sight it appears to show a naked white woman being touched by several non-white men. Look closer and you might notice something odd – that the hands and forearms of the men are in fact painted dark.

At the bottom of the image, which – apart from the content – resembles the style of the H&M ads that are more familiar around town, there’s only a short explanatory text: #hatebetter.

What’s going on?

First, it’s an art project by Katarina Stegnar (“an actress, performer, movement artist, researcher, deviser who has been active in Slovenian theatre since 1999”), on display from 10 to 20 May, and part of the Festival Performansa.

While tourists and even locals who don’t keep up with local media may be baffled as to where the imagery is coming from – is it fashion? Art? Porn? Politics? Racism? Sexism? – it appears to be inspired by one of the more controversial covers from Demokracija, the right-wing weekly review. This was published in August 2018, and is shown below.

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Demokracija's Facebook

We’ll leave it up to readers to draw their own conclusions as to the meaning of the work, or appropriateness for a public street, with the artist herself offering the following accompanying statement:

The regulation of female sexuality lies at the core of all patriarchal politics. Regardless of whether we are discussing the wearing of burkas, banning abortion or the demonization of female pleasure.

It ends now. No means no.

I will not allow my body to be exploited for any political agenda.

I am the mistress of my pleasure. I will do with my body as I please, where I please and with whomever I please.

I love my Slovenian boyfriend, whether he is black, yellow, white, red or all the colours of the rainbow.

Of course, Ljubljana is a city famed for its vibrant art scene, both street and gallery, and it didn’t take long for someone with a spray-can to add their own layer of meaning to the image, with Planet Opic meaning “Planet of the Apes”.

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©Miha Fras for Festival Performansa

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