Warte Mal! Prostitution After the Velvet Revolution

Ann-Sofi Siden

As drivers on the road from Dresden to Prague cross the German border into the Czech Republic, they pass through the frontier town of Dubi. In all seasons, day and night, women line the roadside. Desperate to attract attention, they shriek at the drivers of passing vehicles ‘Warte Mall’ (Hey Wait!). Dubi was once a resort, renowned for its spas. In the wake of the ‘Velvet Revolution’ – the events which led to the collapse of Communism in Czechoslovakia – economic instability and Dubi’s location close to the economic powerhouse of Germany transformed the town into a notorious destination for sex tourists form the West. Exactly 10 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, throughout 1999, Ann-Sofi Siden, a visual artist, and filmmaker, made prolonged trips to Dubi documenting her stay through video, photography, a written diary and an extensive series of video-interviews – detailed and often harrowing testimonies of the experiences of the players in the business of prostitution: clients, police, pimps and the prostitutes themselves. It is this material which compromises Warte Mall, a 13 channel DVD installation that has been shown as a ‘walk-in documentary’ in several major museums in Europe. Siden has made an acute and disturbing exploration of the way in which lives of individuals are bound up in the accidents and complexities of political history. This illustrated catalogue includes a preface by Susan Ferleger Brades, interviews, an essay by Robert Fleck and artist’s biography.

status Copy #1 (8659): in
genre Sexuality ยป Sex Work
publisher Hayward Gallery
publish date 2002
popularity checked out 1 time(s)

Reviews

  • By Bill Svoboda -

    This well made hardback (about an often sad and/or horrific subject), paradoxically represents small press excellence. This was my introduction to the Hayward Gallery Press, the Hayward Museum, and artist Ann-Sofi Sidon- lots of cool,wonderful & amazing work by all of them! Concerning a different type of work -sex for money, it is more “business as usual” than ever in the Czech Republic, while human trafficing has spread throughout the world (Orlando Florida!) This book prompted a great deal of online research on my part-as a result of which I’m confident in disagreeing with the socio-politico-economic narrative Ann-Sofi Sidon seems to believe-namely, that as a result of the collapse of a “Socialist” country (and the subsequent slashing of the social safety net), many women are forced into prostitution. Actually, in the Czech Republic both education and medical care are free- and the quality of both healthcare and education have improved since the days of the Soviet backed regime. The extreme repressiveness of the state (in the name of “Socialism”) was one of the main reasons prostitution was far less common under State Socialism than it is today- I could go on and on- but Sidon’s political beliefs are in the background, and don’t detract from most of Warte Mal! -which, again is quite well done-(Studs Terkel would have been impressed by her interviewing prowess!) This is yet another book filled with complexities which I would love to discuss in greater detail-meanwhile “Warte Mal” has gotten scrambled to “Wal Mart” in my head.

Leave a Reply