Global South

The modern division of the world as it exists in the economic and social-political sense of the word brought forth a sharp split between the rich, developed, and dominant North and the poor, undeveloped, and exploited South. The former seems to extend its influence over all countries, unable to meet the conditions of those developed, regardless of their geographic position. On the other hand, the Global South and its massive markets await as an oasis, offering true opportunities, great challenges for economic growth, profitable investments and generous
profits. Regretfully, however, entrance into this promising massive market is possible for only a relative minority of the world population, which itself introduced the free/deregulated market, democracy, neo-liberal economic system, and even went as far as to use the story of capitalism by presenting it as the only possible alternative in order to legitimize all that. The centuries old processes of colonisation, decolonisation, and neo-colonisation of the Third World prepared fertile ground for the forthcoming economic invasion, which acquired universal dimensions on the wings of globalisation and has inundated the entire world as never before, reaching out to even the most remote and hidden places of the globe. It soon became obvious, however, that this very process is a harbinger of destructiveness just like many other historical processes undertaken in the name of progress. As a result, the international community is forced to face various acute problems, including poverty, ecological disasters, human and civil rights violation, discrimination, ethnic and regional conflicts, massive migrations of refugees, hunger, violence, and diseases. The field of culture and art proved itself far from immune to the general trends of globalization due to a specific distribution of thought, moral standards, and ethical values. The distribution in question took place through information networks, which were monopolized by the prevailing type of culture. Despite this fact, what nevertheless has succeeded to coexists on the sidelines are certain artistic practices
with a critical stance, contemplating the modern mutated vision of society, which abolishes history, differences, identities, and specifics. What remains to persist and insist is art, which reflects upon wider or merely local and violence-soaked images of the peripheral Global South. It is for this reason that we decided to invite artists from all artistic genres and many peripheral continents to participate in this year’s festival and thus contribute to the contemplative and discursive arena evolving around the issue of the Global South with their own discourse on political-social and cultural reality.

We have dedicated much space to performance and Live Art this year, which is not an artistic form most at home in the Slovene cultural space. We may well say that what connects women performers from South, Central, and North America, namely Alejandra Herrera Silva, Regina José Galindo and Nahomi Ximenez, is their immediate expressiveness and strong charisma. The themes they deal with in their works are invested with a strong political dimension. Galindo, an exceptional performer who became internationally renowned for her uncompromising artistic language, understands the body in terms of a collective body, existing as the arena of emerging conflicts which have a direct link to the ruthless context of the Guatemalan everyday reality. The situation on the other side of the world and the trends of contemporary Chinese performance will be shown by artists of different generations, such as Xiao Lu, He Chengyao, Ko Siulan and Liu Lushan. This practical experience will be accompanied by a lecture on Contemporary Chinese performance held by French curator and critic Bérénice Angremy, who runs the China Art Performance Platform (CAPP) and is a renowned authority on the subject of contemporary artistic production in China. There is no need to look for the ruthless environments of the global periphery only in distant countries. Just around the corner, just a step over our South-eastern Schengen border, there is a South of our own, spreading over the area of our former federal country. Undeveloped, dirty, unwanted, exoticised when convenient… and consistently wrapped in a negative connotation. Artists and activists Lana and Leila Čmajčanin, Adela Jušić, Alma Suljević and Danijela Dugandžić Živanović deal with issues related to the experience of war, as well as the deprivileged and discriminated everyday reality of people. The visa application procedure by itself clearly reflects the nature of the relations that exist towards citizens from beyond the South-eastern Schengen border. Leila Čmajčanin posits freedom of movement as the basis for her 
artistic action Dobrodošli/ Welcome/Willkommen, thus addressing the wider issue of the repressive nature inscribed within migration policy, which is likewise a theme tackled by Lala Raščić in her new project. The old saying Buscandose el Pan (in a slightly rephrased version - Home is where bread is.) became an integral part of the vocabularies as well as the life directions of each and every generation and subsequently left its mark in all historical epochs, including the one we
currently live in. Moreover, it provided material for the work of Lesley Yendell, who left Great Britain and found inspiration and shelter in Mediterranean Spain, the country of energetic choreographer and dancer Sol Picó. Her works tend to critically focus on ecological problems, women issues, and the pervading negative social perception of aging and old age. Massive migrations and processes are not to be understood solely as a consequence of economic reasons, since extreme political circumstances in many parts of the world also act as a main impetus for
migration. The second war of liberation in Zimbabwe, for example, left a decisive mark in the life and work of Nora Chipaumire, who was forced to leave her country. Her choreographies from exile come across as the poetry of a personal and collective memory, intertwined with experiences of violence, trauma, and resistance. A different kind of memory of childhood and the Lebanon War are written by Cynthia Zaven in her octophonic, sound diary. The latter comes in the form of a narrative made out of various sounds which emerge carved out of a personal audio archive and melded into different multilayered stories. Azra Akšamija, on the other hand, investigates the existing relations between Islamic tradition, architecture predominantly, and the contemporaneous Western reality, which gave the perception of Islam a radical mark after September 11th. Radicalization is still on the rise, whereas religious and constitutional rights are being persistently
violated in democratic countries, allegedly in the name of protection - protection from the Other. Slovenia reflects a similar attitude by continuing to deny any substantial epilogue to the mosque question, which made a great stir at all social and political levels. Karima Mansour used the paradoxical allegory of planting a tree in the desert for her performance Nomadness, which re-examines the themes of identity and conflict. Symbolically she also narrates her own position
as an independent dancer and choreographer, having established the first independent dance group in Egypt. She thus continues to spread the story of her stubborn persistence and independence, despite the fact that she has been exporting her works abroad for years now.

We were keen to host rebels active within their respective movements against neoliberalism in India, Bolivia, Honduras, and Mexico in order for them to present their struggles as well as the development of autonomous movements, which would give us a chance to approach their own recognitions, provoking thorough conside-ration of “politicality” and “globality”, the “North” and “South” of the 21st Century. Regretfully, however, political circumstances have made the planned
discussion impossible, including the absence of some artists who were forced to cancel their long-confirmed participation.

We decided to spice up the otherwise varied international program with some novelties from the “home-made” bowl of creativity. We will be presenting three authorial debuts of the young Slovene rising stars Nataša Živković, Katjuša Kovačič and Jelena Rusjan. Two of the three are productions by the City of Women Association, namely the performances authored by Nataša Živković and Katjuša Kovačič. The former dives into the depths of the powerful, intimate, and complex bonds that exist between mother and daughter, whereas the debut of the versatile cultural improviser Katjuša Kovačič creatively revisits the experience of encounter and confrontation between Chinese and Slovene traditions and cultures by interweaving them and entangling them only as much as it takes for them to disentangle on their own… and then, finally, weaves them together into her first independent project. Our cooperation with the Glej Theatre concerned the production of Jelena Rusjan’s music-theatre performance Screech Orchestra, which playfully confronts the themes of dark violence and pop aesthetics through the unusual ensemble of a kitch-noir formation. As production partners, we also decided to present one segment of the otherwise complex Via Nova, namely a performance by the outstanding actress Barbara Kukovec, who contemplates the question of live presence on stage. City of Women feels the necessity to explicitly underline the existing latent discrimination of women in capitalism, henceMarija Mojca Pungerčar’s new project Mortality Table proved to be more than a welcome statement with regard to current insurance policies which pay out smaller pensions to women in comparison to men, despite identical financial contributions and years of saving gender-wise. Serious subjects will also be presented in a humorous manner, especially the party 4 Years Later, which will be thrown KITCH Institute. The party will actually celebrate the anniversary of a wedding/performance which took place in the City of Women framework, with the aim to problematize the process of acquiring citizenship in the Republic of Slovenia, which itself turns out to be the most rigorous for our Southern neighbors.

An educational program will also be a part of this year’s festival, and it will take place in the form of two free workshops under the framework of the City of Women web platform - CoWeb. The first workshop will focus on various methods of writing about performance and Live Art under the mentorship of the professor Jennie Klein, theoretician and writer in the area of contemporary performance, gender and identity. Klein is currently working together with Deirdre Heddon, Ph.D.,
on an anthology about the history of Live Art, entitled Live Art in the UK: Histories and Practices. The second workshop, dealing with critical writing about film, will be held by the editor and film critic Maja Krajnc. The results of the workshop will be published regularly on the CoWeb platform under the coordination of Samo Gosarič, the project coordinator.

This year’s abundant offering of films, selected by the expert of the seventh art Vanja Kaluđerčić, includes documentaries by the prominent film icons Agnès Varda and Marta Rodríguez, who both inscribe historical testimonies about life tragedies on film. In addition to her documentary, the festival also offers the newest masterpiece by Agnès Varda, grandmother of the French New Wave. It could be described as a humorous and emotive contemplation of the author’s rich opus, which
is inextricably linked to personal testimony. The film of the Turkish director Aysun Bademsoy focuses on a team of female football players who see the hopes of a promising future turn into unfulfilled dreams. The theme of intercultural silence and/or ignorance will be touched upon by a short documentary film by Laura Stasiulyte, whereas a rebellion by factory workers in Thailand was taken as the topic of a short film by Anocha Suwichakornpong and given an outstanding authorial mark. The Finnish documentary film artists Susanna Helke and Virpi Suutari pose questions in relation to the (un)importance of the differences between Islamic and Western cultures through children’s play. We can also look forward to the film debut of the renowned visual artist Shirin Neshat straight from the Venice festival. Despite the fact that it deals with a political turning point in history, it remains a current topic, because it speaks of the circumstances which led to the fall of democracy in Iran in 1953. The latter turned out to be a crucial moment, giving rise to the Islamic revolution and to the formation of the political organization of Iran as we know it today. Bearing in mind that the film and cultural education must be encouraged already from an early age, we chose a picturesque film on the life of nomads for our youngest audience. This film treat by the Mongolian film director Byambasuren Davaa was brought to us by Petra Slatinšek, coordinator of the Kinobalon program for children and youth at the partner institution Kinodvor. The festival will be concluded with the film For the End of Time by the versatile artist Ema Kugler, who was part of the City of Women in its first year and is set to return again with her unique artistic expression. The film program is dedicated to two friends in love with film – Nika Bohinc and Alexis Tioseco, who will both be sincerely missed.

The musical program of the 15th City of Women festival stays true to variety, a mixture of sounds bitter and sweet, traditional and contemporary spirits, renowned quality and experimentation. The new project of the socially engagedJelena Milojević is a musical journey through images, memories and feelings with the multiethnic group Karavana iluzij, which brings together the rhythms of the Eastern Balkans and combines them with elements of swing, samba, bossa nova and funk. The mixture of tradition and contemporary spirits is distinctive of the creative work of the renownedMercedes Peón, who has been researching and studying Galician folk music for years now, which has proved to be the main inspiration for her creativity. The duet consisting of the Berlin pianist Magda Mayas and the Lebanese saxophone player Christine Sehnaoui is a creative mixture of different aesthetics and traditions of improvisation arising between the autodidact Sehnaoui and the formally trained pianist Mayas. Their electric-acoustic improvisations with different playing techniques come across as soft and sharp at the same time. We are honoured to be able to host one of the best vocalists of our time, the passionate singer and pianist of Greek-Anatolian roots Diamanda Galás. She relates stories about genocide victims, exiled individuals, social outcasts, as well as those who have passed away or are dying from AIDS. Her music contains mourning and revenge, which makes it a far-echoing cathartic scream, which in turn transforms and influences everything it touches. For the first time in Slovenia we will be hosting Chicks on Speed, a cult electro-pop group with a feminist stance. The group is not involved solely in music, but also works in the fields of activism, visual arts, fashion, and publishing. The heart and soul of Chicks on Speed are the American Melissa Logan and the AustralianAlex Murray-Leslie, who organize and curate multimedia events under the Girl Monster label. They have prepared the seventh edition of the Girl Monster project, on the theme of nudity, especially for the City of Women. The project presents several fellow artists and initiatives related to feminism and gives rise to a multilayered platform which encourages solidarity, networking, and connecting. At the same time, the project encourages dialogue on the subject of women’s position within contemporary society, especially when it comes to their existence in the world of art and culture. The hosts of this event, Melissa Logan and A.L. Steiner, will present a program which includes performances, music, a lecture and videos, as well as the work of provocative and creative artists such as Anat Ben-David, Narcissister, Nadine Jessen, Patty Chang, Valie Export, etc.

In the hope that our mosaic provides you with enough interesting events, we sincerely look forward to seeing you at the festival!

Mara Vujić, Artistic Director of the 15th International Festival of Contemporary Arts – City of Women