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Meet the artist / Tanja Lažetić

Who are you and what do you do?
I'm an artist.

Describe your work in three words / adjectives.
Love, fear, obsession.

Best advice on the art world you've received?
Creating art is a profession. Above all, creating art is not waiting for inspiration, but work. I’ve heard this many times and it’s quite crumpled, but something even more important could be this “best advice”. He was the advice of an excellent, sadly deceased gallerist, in some rather fleeting encounter. To put it simply, art is a system, and to create a quality work of art means that this work can be placed in a broader system.

Artwork / author / music / movie that has been your favorite lately?
I’ve been watching one movie every night for a while now. I used to read a lot, now I watch movies. I’ve been reviewing old Italian films for the last month, before that I reviewed Akira Kurosawa’s films chronologically. I find it difficult to choose just one of his films because scenes from his various films often come to mind. So lately, I remember several times the extremely slow battle scene from the movie Kagemush (Warrior Shadow) and the field of dying soldiers and horses. The scene seems infinitely long and painful. Maybe this has to do with the dark times we are living in now.

What do you fear when you create?
Fear comes later.

What creation tool would I not be able to live without?
Without people to see that. But I didn’t answer correctly, did I?

What do you consider to be the biggest success of your artistic career so far?
First I think of the most unusual event. It happened when I was at an art residency in Shanghai and in a casual conversation found out about a call for the Nanjing Art Festival. It was half an hour to midnight and I had half an hour to fill out the call. I was selected and received a 10.000 dollars prize. It was the most “unreal” event of my career. The biggest success, however, could certainly be that one of my books found its way into Phaidon’s historical review, The Photobook: A History.

How do you view the positive or negative critique of your creation?
They only make me think of the criticism of the people I respect.

Name an artist that you would like to be compared to.
Only with the best! But I feel like I’ve made more mistakes in my life to really get to that. For example, I was not born a man, I did not choose the right studies, I did not go abroad… But if I chose one person anyway, then I would want to compare myself to Méret Oppenheim. The Swiss artist from a very wealthy Jewish family, known today for her hairy tea cup, saucer and spoon, lived in Paris before World War II and was part of the then very lively art scene. Because of the war, she had to return from the metropolis to provincial Switzerland, where she was known as "the artist who was photographed naked." She was mentally at the bottom for years, but she still created a bunch of exquisite artwork.
And why would you want to compare yourself to her? Because the stench of the province did not suffocate her.

How did the pandemic mark your work?
More than I understand now.

Tanja Lažetić (b. 1967) graduated in architecture from the University of Ljubljana in 1994. She works in the fields of photography, video, performance, ceramics and artist’s book. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at Moderna galerija (four times at its U3 triennial), the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, the International Center of Graphic Arts (once at the International Biennial of Graphic Arts), the City Art Gallery, Cankarjev dom, the P74 Gallery and the Škuc Gallery, all in Ljubljana, then in Neuer Berliner Kunstverein in Berlin, Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid, the Museum Brandhorst in Munich, the Art Gallery in Priština, the PM Gallery and the Klovičevi dvori Gallery in Zagreb, the May 25 Museum in Belgrade, the Brighton Photo Biennial in the UK, the Festival der Regionen in Austria, and the Gagosian Gallery in Paris, Beverly Hills and New York. In 2015 she won the Bronze Award at the Nanjing International Art Festival in China and Third Prize at the International Ceramics Triennial UNICUM in Ljubljana, and in 2016 the Rihard Jakopič Honorable Mention. In the last ten years, Lažetić published more than twenty artist’s books. Her book Whore has been included in The Photobook: A History, Volume III published by Phaidon in 2014. Her photobooks are also included in the MoMA Artists’ Books Collection and the Tate Collection of Artists’ Books. She lives and works in Ljubljana. Tanja Lažetić is represented by Galerija Fotografija.