“The “Simplon Express Zagreb-Paris” was one of several artistic projects Croatia presented to the French public in the autumn of 2012 … the performance of a young Zagreb artist, who masturbated in the train, “completely imperceptibly, sitting with legs crossed and tensing her abdominal muscles.””

The artist is convinced that her artistic project is both feministically and artistically provocative, even though (or perhaps because) it is – “invisible.” For those with slightly longer cultural memories and experience, hers is simply a dull recycling project. Over the past fifty years female artists have staged similar performances in many places, Croatian artists among them. The artist’s project reveals not only her naivety, arrogance, and unwillingness to bone up on her predecessors, but also an absence of context and continuity, the absence of a will to build continuity. The episode speaks to a humiliating artistic and intellectual apathy. And in this sense, it is indeed a very “female narrative.” Because without a women’s canon (now why wouldn’t that be a word for continuity?), ambitious and lazy little girls will go around in circles repeating the same thing over, determinedly claiming that they’re doing something new. The absence of a canon, that is, the presence of discontinuity, leaves an empty space that enables the inevitable reinscription of the female, the production of an exhausted art that resorts to the same stammering vocabulary, self-convinced that it is declaring revolution. In any case, a canon exists to be destroyed – and so that there is an awareness of what is being destroyed.

– Dubravka Ugresic, “A Women’s Canon”, in Europe in Sepia, pp. 177-8


… the same can of course be said for the what is euphemistically called “the reinvention of the wheel” in New Zealand cultural and artistic spheres, behind which the usual explanation is lack of resources to provide institutional (canon-like) continuity: however, as Dubravka Ugresic has it, the lazy little girls ought also be called to account.