Tanya vs. Irene
Tanya s. Irene is a compilation of obscene photographs pulled from the sites of Eastern European fetish porn sites. Each slide in the presentation is broken into two to four panels always depicting Tanya or Irene at a different moment in what is assumed to be a pornographic film. The images vary in their indecency. The show begins with Irene and Tanya fully clothed and depicted in varying degrees of patronization. The scene gradually more explicit. Images alternate between close-ups of the females genitalia and the women posed sexually returning the gaze of the viewer.
While on its surface Tanya vs. Irene may appear to be simply a reproduction of the bizarre pornographic fantasy, the intentionality of Bajagic's work asks a very important question about the possibility of neutralizing the pornographic in the context of this culturally appropriated material. Bajagic insists the purpose of this piece is not about shock value. She wanted the images to be seen, "not really for what they are, but what they give on a formal visual level." (Kay, Jean (2014) Darja Bajagic). Presenting these images in such a simplistic, straightforward manner is an effort to expedite the discussion revolving around the complex pretext under which these pictures are made.
"There is something really complex about where these images come from, how they're made and the exploitative nature of the whole thing. I'm interested in that tension of the work, but I'd also like to present them as blank images. I know it's impossible but that tension is interesting to me, forcing the viewer to come to terms with all of that baggage and then ignoring it simultaneously."((Kay, Jean (2014) Darja Bajagic)
Bajagic's work is set on forcing the audience to confront the countercultures that exist on the internet and their origins. In doing so, she has desexualized the content by implicating the larger societal problems that lead to this type of obscenity.
She approached a taboo subject with brash aesthetic indifference, but her selection of images is pointed. We are forced to meet the gaze of these women, thrusting the viewer into the uncomfortable position of the consumer. By implicating the audience, Bajagic is forcing us to consider the cultural significance of an infrequently discussed phenomenon.
In later pieces such as the one depicted below, she expends this concept into the physical, 2D realm. Her unique compositions of odd letters and numbers mixed with, again, appropriated, pornographic images offers a different experience of the subject matter. In the piece depicted below, we see an interactive element to the work, as well as the familiar tropes of male patronizing female and fetish erotica. This deliberate presentation of the subject matter is more effective at leading the audience toward analyzing the formal visual elements and uncovering the critical conceptual aspects of the piece.
Her work may be described as net art in the sense that its conceptual foundation involves something found on the internet. However by this definition, one may define Richard Prince's New Portraits exhibit as net art. Both pieces are highly controversial, although for different reasons, and are appropriated from the internet. While Prince's work was criticized for its lack of original content, the show did lead to deeper conversations about appropriated material in general and the relationships the exist on the Internet.