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World Leader Ménage a Trois

Austrian politico-porn is supposed to symbolize... international relations?
 
 
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It always makes me giddy to see artists using government funds to criticize government. It's so naughty. So rebellious. And frankly it's just funny.

The latest art controversy is all of those things, but especially naughty. An Austrian public art organization called 25peaces made headlines around the world today when it put up billboards that depict Queen Elizabeth, Dubya, and Jacques Chirac enjoying a threesome. (Thankfully, the images did not attempt to resemble reality—the three aging, not-so-sexy world leaders were portrayed by young, attractive models wearing masks.) The threesome photos are among 150 pieces of public art created as part of the project, many of which are controversial.

None of the major news outlets showed the images in full, but you can take a gander at a few thumbnails of the more controversial images posted by a blogger in New Jersey.

The rationale behind the threesome billboard, which is being criticized as pornographic, was described briefly by the BBC :

"The image by Spanish artist Carlos Aires, showing the naked threesome wearing rubber masks of the Queen and two presidents, has caused the most controversy.

But he is reported to claim it shows the "most recent changes in Europe and the resulting spatial constructions".

Organisers of the project, which celebrates 60 years of Austria's republic and 10 years of its membership of the EU, say the posters reflect the "different social, historical and political developments in Europe".

I love it when geeky, mediocre artists make up esoteric, overly-academic reasons why their sleazy art is really about something globally important. It seems to me that this is simply a clever snapshot designed to provoke a response, which it did quite successfully. However, as an instrument to spark discussion on the "spatial constructions" of a changing Europe, it has failed miserably.

Are these images inspiring anyone to ponder the politics of the U.S., France and England? Yeah, I didn't think so. So let's start a discussion of the artistic merits of these images here. Why did the artist choose to use two female models and one man to depict the heads of state? I suppose if there were two men in the image, it would be determined to be even more offensive by our heterosexist world. What I really don't get is the arrangement of the world leaders. Why is Dubya the one on hands and knees? Anyone willing to discuss the symbolism there?

Maria Luisa Tucker is a staff writer at AlterNet and associate editor of the Columbia Journal of American Studies.