Fashion and Despair

Project developed in artist in residence offered by
Quartier 21- MQ, Vienna-Austria
On invitation of Eva Blimlinger and Brigitte Felderer

Following the political costume and uniform after 1945 in Austria, Doringer was challenged by curators to present a project which could connect “fashion and despair” to the present context of Austrian society.He arrived to Vienna with the starting points that his future art-work could be attached to dig in his original Austrian origins or more probably to the image of Natasha Kampusch. The person who had been kidnapped, raised and abused in the basement, rearranged into a perfect children's room according to the middle class standards of the western society.

Doringer’s fascination with Kampusch had begun with her written statement for the media, which seem to be mature, clear and unexpected from the side of a victim at that early age. While he was doing research on the subject, Doringer was surprised with the information about Kampusch’s talk show running monthly on the Austrian TV program. Her life was documented and present in the magazines, amongst pop-stars and the elite of Austria. She was gradually accepted by the Austrian establishment supported by a team of VIP's.

In 2008 Austria had to face one more scandal connected to sexual abuse, kidnapping and home imprisonment, the Fritzl case. Resembling to some extent the situation of Kampusch, Fritzl’s case appeared to be much more brutal and would be remembered as unique horror and an example of a noticed crime just under the feet of the contemporary Austrian society.
Two similar cases of hidden abuse brought Doringer’s focus to the subject and he found them both connected to the core of his assignment; political costume and uniform as fashion?
Or, fashion as a political costume or uniform?

That image and prestige of one nation or country could be changed and the past erased by scandals and political mistakes. This was a familiar concept to Doringer, as he could relate this back to the country where he was born and where he grew up.
Austria had already suffered bad image several years ago after the election of hard-core nationalist Joerg Haider.
Doringer decided to compare the international image of Austria before and after the case of Natasha Kampusch reached the front pages all over the world.
Under the option “Austria +woman “or “Austria + girl” Internet search shows her name. Not surprising that the option “Austria + man” gave much about Fritlz as result. Kampusch became the new brand of Austria, more visible than Milka chocolate, the movie “Sound of music” or almost forgotten witty, smart and innocent Heidi.
Doringer’s project is divided into four independent, but connected phases and processes.

Doringer’s project is divided in to four independent, but connected phases and processes.


Austria is famous for its mountains and landscapes, often used for the commercial self-presentation of standard, healthy lifestyle and environment. As part of his project Doringer created a series of his own postcards. At first glance they appeared as any other postcard available in souvenir stores all over the world, more precisely in Austria. But after scrutinizing one red point, spot or clearly shaped figure under a red hood it becomes clear that the red spot represents the person dressed in red. By placing the popular fairytale “Little Red Riding Hood” in Austrian landscape, he illustrated the resemblance between the story of Natasha Kampusch and the fairytale itself. (Reference to Erick Bern “What you say after hello?)

Everything seems alive and romantically seductive, except the figure. She is always obscure but challenging. The atmosphere is uncanny, which is the case in most of Doringer’s work. He is using a photo zoom technique, to confirm the importance of this figure, to help discover who is there, or what is there..to bring her closer to the viewer.
The figure is brought closer in the sequence of photographs.
The last photograph shows a human, most probably female, white complexion, under the red hood, resembling the person in a red raining coat in the movie “Don’t look now” by the Nicolas Roeg.


This part of the project represents the transformation of identity. Doringer transforms Kampusch in to “Little Red Riding Hood” and himself in to the “Wolf”.
In the process of transformation Doringer begins from the most famous photo, published in all world press and media. She wears a red jacket with black lines and a black and white school uniform skirt, taking the posture of adult.

We can assume that her posture indicates an influence of the media and shows that she is influenced by media and/ or pop culture.
Inspired by the photo and knowing the work of Dejan Kaludjerovic, a Serbian artist based in Vienna, Doringer asks Kaludjerovic to transform the photo into a drawing, intergrating his personal style. Kaludjerovic’s work is often labelled as paedophilic, the entire situation is opposite. Kaludjerovic is only fabricating the images of children already published or used in the media.

The simple drawings of Kaludjerovic are successfully showing a young person in a world of adults. The viewer’s fantasy and knowledge are necessary to place his work in to the right perspective.

With the same approach we are supposed to look at Doringer’s decision to dedicate his work to Natasha Kampusch. Conventional viewer is questioning such a decision, and easily placing Doringer in to the roll of a paedophile or a perverted person who celebrates this crime.
Together with the postcard photos of Natasha Kampusch, drawing by Dejan Kaludjerovic, Doringer in this phase adds his self-portrait between the Austrian mountains titled the WOLF.


Analyzing Austrian mainstream culture and crowd moving in the shopping districts, swimming pools and clubs of Vienna, Doringer noticed the regular presence of tattoo.
Most frequently of bad taste and quality, often celebrating pop stars, idols, loved, and media icons.
Understanding the position of Natasha Kampusch in public, Doringer decided to create tattoo design inspired by her image. Here he decided to use drawing of Kaludjerovic.
Tattooing is a very symbolic, painful process, penetrating the skin and flesh with a needle and ink, supported by Vaseline and latex gloves. It obviously resembles gay sex, sm sex as paedophile fantasy gravure on the body.

Everything changes around the tattoo and to itself is resisting in the same form and style; no way back.
Tattooing the image of Kampusch, Doringer questions her maturity to stand in front the media after being imprisoned and probably rapped for so many years. The process of tattooing resembles trauma, the arm is bleeding and the skin is bruising. Printing a smiling face of Natasha Kampusch from the period of her childhood before the kidnapping on Doringer’s skin is not pleasant and easy. This is also a reminder that no matter what Kampusch does in her life or how she is presented by media, she was still kidnaped and abused.



Doringer is wearing a classical male suit. A suit that demands status and respect. This dress code is normally not part of Doringer’s daily life. In such arraignment, rapped he stands in front of the professional fashion photographer based in Vienna, Philipp Fortsner.The sleeves of the suit and the shirt are ripped and carefully folded to show the tattoo with the image of Kampusch. The posture is referencing Schiele’s portrait with the shoulder. Imitating postures and expressions used in fashion photography Doringer promotes his work and himself. He glorifies this fabricated story and abandons all elements of importance. He is flashed by camera looking like a model or pop star.
He is admiring and celebrating his new image, conscious that this part of the work will attract the most attention by viewers as any other fabricated story. In this phase of the project Doringer is playing the role of a “parasite” that is using someone’s life in order to achieve a certain status. For an example, just a few weeks after Natasha’s statement was published, a group of British writers started working on a book about her life, based fictional and false elements.
Doringer designed a red jacket, used on the postcards photos, that was inspired with Natasha’s jacket from her famous missing photo. The jacket is labelled with his name as all other designs that he made in the past. This jacket is exhibited in the gallery, hanging on the wall. Here one problematic and fascinating intimate history is becoming an invisible part of his fashion garment.

All along Doringer is taking a negative role to tell the story of importance, determined to show his ethical code using exchange of identities. First of all he questions the decision that Kampusch becomes a TV face, even if she can’t carry that role in the professional manner. He questions the team behind her and if and how it helps to improve the image of Austria in the media. Doringer is fascinated by the strength of Kampusch and her decision to leave the role of a victim behind. To do something good for her and the others all that some elements of her history are not yet fully explained. “She” or her team are obviously trying to transform her image from the role of a victim into the role of a hero, and Doringer is impressed by this.

In his research of the structure of Austrian society and a different approach and attitude towards two similar scandals, he found out that many sources are attacking Austria for staying clear of their Nazi past, double standards and hidden identities. It is curious that Fritzl tried to defend himself, accusing his strict education and Nazi past. Media icon Kampusch gave her view on Fritzl’s case just after it had been announced and insisted that her kidnapper and Fritzl both had very strict mothers with the Nazi views. Fritzl as a young man had been accused of rape which didn’t stop Austrian authorities to deny his request to adopt children. Kampusch’s kidnapper was famous for his school uniform and Scottish pattern fetish in sex clubs of Vienna, as well as being an owner of a white minibus (similar to the one in which Natasha disappeared) but still Austrian police did not connect him to her disappearance.

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 © Bogomir Doringer 2016