“I am fascinated by how we adapt nature to our own selfish interests.”

© Tanja Lazetić

Do you define yourself as a photographer?

Of course. One of my most important roles as an artist is being a photographer.

What drives you as a photographer?

I want to understand the world that surrounds me. When I’m creating an artwork, I put it aside, rip it, break it, cut it up, or change its colours to grasp its core. I’ve broken the glass protecting photographs of Yugoslav pools, have sewn together cut up photographs, as if I were stitching a body, ripped up a book with a broken glass on it, left printed plates to fall to the ground and proclaimed the fragments an artwork, crossed out and restamped a photo to give it a different meaning, and made a video in which I cut up my own dress. I am interested in the way we perceive difference in our time, and fascinated by how we adapt nature to our own selfish interests, and I keep returning to the perception of women.

My most recent artistic project is a series of one hundred photographs of unusually coloured flowers, made as if I were taking their portraits. I speak of the changed attitude towards nature and the body, the perfect body of our time which is not allowed to grow old. My flowers are perfect, but because of their strange colours, they are also alien.

Do you think there is such a thing as a ‘woman’s gaze’ in photography? Is this something you can relate to?

An evasive term. As Cher once said, “Women have always been sex objects and always will be”. It sounds simple, almost robust, yet still, the merging of two people takes place through a certain fixed ritual. They must somehow get together, the boundaries and roles intertwining and moving just like the black and white of the yin and yang symbols sliding into one another. I think we should ask ourselves why we feel that the object should be passive. Because, although we are talking about a gaze, if we want to understand the ‘female gaze’, we must listen to other senses as well.

But most importantly, we simply associate the ‘female gaze’ with prejudice. I often spoke about this topic in my work. The best example of that is when I printed the word WHORE on a photograph in which I stand facing away from the camera, in a promiscuous manner. I printed it in red, of course. Because that is the word which holds within it all the prejudice connected to an attractive female body.

Has being a woman influenced your work as an artist in any way?

Very much so. It made me name the video in which I filmed my legs descending the stairs Nude Descending the Staircase. It is edited in a way that breaks the image, appearing as if the legs are constantly walking up and down the stairs, while in the background we can hear only the creaking of floorboards. I tried to present one of the most famous nude paintings (Nude Descending the Staircase by Marcel Duchamp, ed.) from the position of a woman. I wondered what kind of emotions envelop a woman as she is descending the stairs naked.

I also discuss the position of a female artist in my work Almost like Olympia. I printed parts of a single photograph on 56 papers and sewed them together. I had posed for the image in a manner similar to Victorine Meurent when she posed for Manet’s provocative Olympia. I wondered who this short red-haired woman was, she who does not invite the viewer with her nudity but challenges them. I wanted to create a contemporary Olympia, so I interlaced the red thread with digital image.

Do you live off your art?


Which authors have inspired you? Are there any female photographers among them?

Sophie Calle. The photograph, the image itself, is as important as texts in her work. Her photography exhibitions aren’t just a series of framed works, but a complex presentation which shifts the boundaries of perception in visual art. I understand that, but there is something else which captivates me in her work, something I find difficult to explain. Perhaps it is connected to the fact that Sophie Calle doesn’t perceive foreign worlds with wonder, doesn’t feed herself on other people’s hardships, as is so often the case in photography. Even when she speaks of other, different people, she always digs deep within herself. Just as Frida Kahlo’s paintings, works of Louise Bourgeois or Méret Oppenheim, Sophie Calle’s works always give me the feeling that what I am seeing is me, that her works speak of me. It is a special feeling, something that tells me I should pay attention, that crawls under my skin and leaves me speechless.

Tanja Lažetić


Born in 1967, the multidisciplinary Slovenian artist Tanja Lazetić lives and works today in Ljubljana. After studying architecture (University of Ljubljana, 1994), the artist finally turned to photography, video, performance art and ceramics to create her hybrid works exploring the way women are represented in society. Her works have been exhibited in Europe – Slovenia, Germany, Spain, Serbia or Austria – and have received a number of awards: the Bronze Award at the Nanjing International Art Festival in China, the International Ceramics Triennial Unicom of Ljubljana, and the Rihard Jakopič award. In ten years, Tanja Lazetić has published over twenty works. Her photography books are now part of the collections of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Tate.

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