From harem to brothel
Artists in the post-communist world
Making art, writing, painting, making music is like making love. It is something that can be hindered, but not stopped, even less can it be ruled and controlled by somebody, be it kings, popes, or party secretaries. These people have often been jealous of artists as well as of women. They want to keep beautiful women and gifted artists for themselves, to deny them freedom to make love to whom they will and write and paint what they will. They confine the women and artists in harems, restricted areas where they are taken care of, where they have nearly everything except freedom. In a harem you must make love to your lord and you can't do it with anybody else. A harem is a restricted area you can't leave.
Eurozine's series Literary perspectives provides an overview of diverse literary landscapes, describing the current literary climate in specific European countries, regions, or languages.
Carl Henrik Fredriksson
Introduction: The re-transnationalization of literary criticism
Hungary: Mastering history through narrative?
Northern Ireland: Shaking the hand of history
Slovenia: A hollowed-out generation
Ukraine: Longing for the novel
The Netherlands: "Profound Holland" and the new Dutch
Estonia: Waiting for the Great Estonian Novel
Austria: Anything but a "German appendix"
Sweden: Beyond crime fiction, handbags, and designer suits
Croatia: Post-traumatic stress disorder
Denmark: The contemporary literary reservation
Lithuania: Almost normal
Tim Van Imschoot
At the same time, paradoxically enough, the artists felt they were important. The meticulous censorship, the special attention the KGB, the Party, and other bureaucrats paid to them, was a clear sign that they were important. The writer's pen and artist's brush had some power: otherwise the mighty state wouldn't have mobilized its secret police and many officials to guard them. The well-known bulldozing of an unofficial exposition in a park in Moscow was a big event, the artists whose works were destroyed nevertheless felt comforted by so much attention. The harem ladies knew that they had some influence on the Sultan and his dignitaries.
Literary perspectives: Estonia. Waiting for the Great Estonian Novel
From harem to brothel. Artists in the post-communist world
Ice and Heather: Notes of a Migrant
A brave woman
In the past we were forbidden to make love to the rich men from the corrupt West. Now we compete for their favour and gifts. We go and sleep with them when we get a telephone call. We call girls and call boys of the Western world are the luckiest of the post-communist prostitutes. Many of our former harem-mates envy us. We are quite busy, we have to make love to many people, life has become much more expensive and insecure. Sometimes, waiting, exhausted in a big airport of the brave, free world, we ask ourselves what freedom is, where freedom is to be found, the freedom we believed in and some of our comrades died for. We ask ourselves, what is really the difference between a harem and a brothel, an odalisque and a call girl? Isn't the world that opened itself to us just a much much bigger harem with many sultans and emirs who want us to make love to them? After all, there is one difference: they now have much more freedom of choice.
Original in English
© Märt Väljataga