“Lipstick Demands”, was an art project on the topic of sex work and public space. It took place may 2008 as part of the LEFÖ campaign “Sexarbeiterinnen haben Lust auf ihre Rechte” (Sex Workers Lust for their Rights) in the Blumberg Raum für Gestaltung, Neulerchenfelderstraße 90, within the scope of SOHO in Ottakring.
For the duration an opaque monochromatic red made of lipstick was applied to the inside of the salesrooms windows. Wishes and demands of sex workers were legible at eyes level. The appearance of a red-light district local was imitated and the room used for an examination of the topics sex work and public space.
The upper Neulerchenfelderstraße has been considered a target area for urban renovation for some time already. As with many former business streets there is a growing number of vacant shops. Reactivation of these as red-light businesses markedly changes the appearance of the street. The obscured views into the shops hints of secrecy.
Comprehensive research for the project started with discussions with the Gebietsbetreung Brunnenviertel who expounded these changes as an undefined discomfort for local neighbors.This “undefined discomfort” was given a specific space. The red-light businesses in the Neulerchenfelderstraße were to be ousted from their isolated status as uncomfortable phenomena and the underlying structural correlations addressed. Center of attention was to be the sex worker’s legal situation.
A broad network supported the project. Together with LEFÖ sex workers were asked about their needs, demands, and wishes; and these were made legible as lettering on the shop’s windows. In a nation wide campaign a call for used lipstick was made and these subsequently processed to color paste.
The Institute of Art and Design of the TU Vienna (prof. Christine Hohenbüchler) finalized the event with a 3-day symposium. The collaboration was significantly made possible through Inge Manka, whose article describes the institute’s research on this topic.
The collaboration with Soho in Ottakring resulted in effectively reaching a wide public, with up to 15000 people underway in the Brunnenviertel during the peak times of the events.