This year’s programme of the second International Festival called The City of Women actually reminds me of some kind of hologram postcard which I found God-knows-where a few years ago. I remember that it had the face of a nice little girl with long blond plaits on it. But when I held it to the sun and looked at it from a different angle, there was another image: the little girl was stretching her demure face into a big smile and impishly sticking her tongue out at me. At that time we were still children and we were charmed by this dual image on a single postcard. We kept turning it towards the light and staring at the girls raspberry-like tongue. I thought of that girl when I started thinking about what, if anything, needed to be added to the introduction to this year’s The City of Women. The panorama of the festival also has two sides which reveal themselves depending on one’s attention and ways of looking, how much and what we are to see, and, of course, on the eyes that look.

There will be plenty of work for the eyes, ears and mind in the eight days of the festival, which is how long the city doors stay open. If last year’s festival was devoted to female creators from Western Europe and the United States, this year the situation is quite different. The City of Women showcases eminent interpreters of ‘sevdalinka’, the traditional Bosnian love song, Beba Selimović, Emina Zečaj and Vesna Hadžić; the voice of Mari Boine, which penetrates into the ancient worlds of the Sami culture and pre-Christian shamanism; a Greek vocalist and interpreter of the rembetika; Xanthi Mavri, accompanied by buzuki and accordion; one of the leading Macedonian folk singers, Petranka Kostadinova with the ‘Makedonski merak’ ensemble. As art by women is not unusual, we ask ourselves this year about ways of storytelling, as chosen by female artists in the ‘90s, no matter what their main artistic interests may be. We will find three completely different stories in the theatre. There is Guandaline Sagliocco with her new, fresh, comic interpretation of the myth of Jason and Medea. Then we have Sinja Ožbolt, with her most recent choreography called ‘Čudovite ruševine’ (‘Wonderful Ruins’), and there’s the Spanish performer, La Ribot. There will also be artists such as Jenny Holzer and Julia Scher (who can be reached through the Internet) and Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven at the Anonimus Gallery. There will also be video programmes at the City of Women’s VideoLibrary; a premiere of a video documentary by Zemira Alajbegović and Neven Korda called ‘Old for New’, which is about the Slovene alternative scene in the ‘80s; Marleen Gorris with a fascinating family chronicle, ‘Antonia’s Line’’, for which she received an Oscar for best foreign film this year. Every afternoon, discussions will be organised which try to lead us through the panorama of the City of Women, which becomes visible only if you look closely.

The second part of this year’s programme and the festival as a whole contains powerful and challenging art work produced by female artists, which was foreseen at the beginning of this century. Poets foresaw a time when the eternal slavery of women would be broken, when a woman would live of and for herself, when she would become a ‘poet’, a creator, one who would discover unknown, unusual, incomprehensible and repellent, precious things. So the City of Women presents the art and creativity of women who fought for and achieved the right to create and present their creations only in the last century, a situation which still differs from place to place.

Every year The City of Women offers a warning that the world does not provide equal opportunities for living and creating, and that such equality exists only in fairytales, as created in the lucid film by Marleen Gorris. A story of women, it is still a story with two faces, a postcard with two sides, and society ensures that we do not turn it towards the light and see its other, real side.

Uršula Cetinski