I’m fed up: How far can I go?

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MAGDA TÓTHOVÁ IN CONVERSATION WITH ANDREAS STADLER

AS: How did you get the idea to produce Lenin and the Maiden?
MT: In 2003 the Künstlerhaus invited me to participate in an exhibition of young contemporary art from Bratislava. First I thought this invitation sounded cliché and banal, so typical. Just another attempt to promote young art from Eastern Europe. I actually made the video because I was fed up.

AS: So you actually wanted to use the video to protest against the Western view of Eastern Europe?
MT: Exactly. My father once gave me a bust of Lenin. Lenin was ever-present as a kind of Übermensch in all public places, in many official communist publications, and also in schools. So I wanted to test how far I can go with this father figure today, where the boundaries are from a political perspective, and what the relationship is to sex and passion.

AS: Was it primarily about politics, then, or was it also about sexuality? After all, the necrophiliac undertones of this work bring up connotations of “young girl kisses dirty old man.”
MT: Even though the video is often understood that way, this interpretation has little to do with my original intention.

AS: The work was a tremendous international success, most recently in London and in Chicago at the “Renaissance Society”. Are you satisfied?
MT: Not entirely. I’d like to see other works receive attention. I can’t really watch the video any more. It’s too personal for me. Today I’ve shifted my focus and my way of working to new problematic situations, for example, beauty queens and boxers.

 

Still from Magda Tóthová
Lenin and the Maiden, 2003
Video Animation, Color, Sound, 134 min
Courtesy of the Artist

 

MAGDA TÓTHOVÁ  born 1979 in Bratislava, came to live in Austria at the age of 15. She moved to the town of Kittsee at the Austro-Slovenian border, in order to attend high school there. Her family lives in Bratislava. Tóthová studied piano, among other things, and after graduating from high school was accepted to Vienna’s University for Applied Arts, where she studied film under Friedl Kubelka.