Romain Mader’s Ekaterina – A Debate on an Artistic Fiction 14.06.2017 | LISTE Art Fair Basel


from Ekaterina, 2012 © Romain Mader

This years’ highly acclaimed Foam Paul Huf Prize for up-and-coming artists was awarded to Swiss artist Romain Mader for his work Ekaterina (2012). The work shows Mader on his trip to the fictional Ukrainian town “Ekaterina” populated by beautiful women only, where he is looking for his future love and wife. The jury praised Maders Ekaterina for his “funny, naive, absurd, light-hearted” approach that raises awareness of serious issues (sex tourism, love, solitude) through a satirical depiction of the “foolish and oblivious Western European”. Meanwhile, a group of almost fifty people from the field of arts and culture (mainly from Belarus and Ukraine) initiated a petition that criticizes Mader’s Ekaterina as offensively stereotypical and sexist, calling into question the Western white male gaze that “promotes sex tourism, sexism, and misogyny” and remains, for the sake of humor, naïve towards the complex economic and political issues of the post-Soviet region.

The roundtable discussion brings together the artist, his critics and proponents for the first time to debate the controversial issues around Ekaterina. Aesthetic strategies, issues of stereotyping and exploitation, the politics of representation and institutional validation will be debated with regard to Ekaterina and in the light of recent tendencies in art discourse. In today’s shifting political, cultural, artistic and media environment, what are the responsibilities that we – as artists, juries, curators and institutions – must face when engaging with image?

Participants of the roundtable discussion are:
Simon Baker, Curator of Photography and International Art, Tate Modern, London

Olga Bubich, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Journalism, Belarusian State University, Minsk; initiator of the „Petition to reconsider the results of The Foam Paul Huf Award 2017“

Romain Mader, artist and winner of the Paul Huf Award 2017

Nadine Wietlisbach, Director/Curator Photoforum Pasquart, Biel/Bienne

Chaired by Doris Gassert, Research Curator Fotomuseum Winterthur

The roundtable discussion will take place in English
At LISTE Art Fair Basel, in the printing workshop
On Wednesday, 14 June 2017, 4–5 p.m.

Lesia Prokopenko, "Not For Everyone: Locating the 2017 Paul Huf Award“: not-for-everyone-locating-the-foam-paul-huf-award-2017

Liza Premiyak, "Ekaterina: does Romain Mader’s satire on sex tourism in Ukraine do more harm than good?“:

Anton Shebetko, "Marry Me, Ekaterina: The Story Behind Romain Mader’s Controversial Project about Ukraine“:

Olga Bubich, "We are responsible for those who we photograph: Instagram and New Media Ethics" (in Russian):

Olga Bubich, "I am Ekaterina! And I am outraged!" (in Russian):

Kindly supported by Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne.