christy astuy, fremd
christy astuy, fremd
 

christy astuy


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fremd



Together with the province of Lower Austria and the Austrian newspaper 'Der Standard', the MEZ club launched a public art project based on the medium of the billboard. The background that inspired the theme of the project was the sociopolitical motto selected by the European Union for 1997: "Year Against Racism and Xenophobia". Six foreigns artists or artists'groups living in Austria each designed a billboard. The project has featured some 800 billboards scattered throughout the whole province of Lower Austria.
Since the organizers believed that the notion of racism in the more limited sense of word, i.e., racial ideology, hardly can be seen as a crucial social phenomenon and issue in Austria today, they expanded the theme of the project and asked the invited artists to create something alluding to FREMD (foreign/alien). This seemed to make sense also in view of the fact that ethnically motivated discrimination can be seen as only as an extreme pole of social and individual-psychological complex involving behavioral modes and attitudes that are certainly part of social reality in Austria. This has to do with a mix of motives ranging from harmless resentments felt towards German tourists to sporadic cases of real rasism, from jokes about foreign colleagues at work to the socalled "flood of foreigners" – a main attraction of political election campaigns, culminating in the government's present restrictive asylum policy and the policy of integrating foreigners that it endorses – a policy that has "ranked" Austria "last of all West European nations when it comes to integration policy." ('Der Spiegel', 3.10.1997).

Three women, more or less dressed, stood in front of a mountain landscape with waterfall and alpine architecture. Christy Astuy's billboard first took one by surprise, first because of the opulent means, the rich colors of her painterly rendition. With the billboard as medium, she was able to archieve an effect that is truly unusual, also because she did not add any text, limiting her design to purely pictorial means.
At the same time, her motive was based on clichés - mountain landscape, waterfall, and for the viewer with erudition, also the reference to the familiar motive from Greek mythology - and thus moved closer to its context, namely that of advertisement which only speaks in sterotypes. Also the collage style used by the artist - the landscape background was taken from a 19th century etching, the figures from the artist's recent paintings - mad her billboard
appear "flashy", while at the same creating a subtle painterly contrast.
The three female figures were painted portraits. Both in a formal sense, in the way they were painted, and in the mimic expression of the portrayed figures they showed a measure of individuality and intimacy normally not found in this medium. The figures were large and had been prominently placed in the format. But they also were autonomous, self-contained. The picture thus conveyed a certain pathos, that of the individual woman. Seen in connections with the rest of the project this billboard advocated a strict prionciple of individuality. It appealed to the individual and its value independent of background and affiliation to any groups.
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