Between Past and Future

This year’s subject – Between Past and Future – somehow forced itself upon City of Women, proving to be almost inevitable in order to reflect upon these contemporary times and ever-changing conditions.

For the traveller through the present time – a contemporary nomad relentlessly heading towards the utopian city of his or her desires – the images of the landscape fall away from their field of perception because they will be constantly reading something, sending text messages, listening to music or chatting with other fellow travellers… Their pain is the universal pain in the world of modern globalisation, rooted in a locally networked system with countless stopping posts along the way.

In this chaotic and complex vortex of today, the position of the individual - as well as society as a whole - teeters on a slippery ground. The omnipresent crisis has devastated all ideals and hope for a better future; it has become crucial to pause and look back into the past in order to better understand where we actually are, where we are going and what we are taking with us.

On the bridge between past and future, we once again refer to the philosopher Hannah Arendt whose work has already been a marker, a reference point, in previous festival programmes of the City of Women. In terms of this year’s topic – Between Past and Future – this festival relates to the eponymous book by Arendt, who back in the 1960’s, argued that the condition of human existence, robbed of the traditional, transcendental, religious and moral standards employed to bridge the abyss between past and future, lost direction.

In her collection of essays Between Past and Present: Six Exercises in Political Thought, Arendt demonstrates exercises in political thought through actual examples that readdress the basic concepts such as tradition, history, authority, freedom, education, culture etc. She draws attention to the temporal »intervals« determined by »things that are no longer, and by things that are not yet« which open up the space for what she calls »thinking without banisters«.

The festival will provide about thirty programme »intervals« composed of works by many exceptional female artists who in their own inventive ways, address the issues of tradition, history, freedom, authority and culture, whilst commenting on the present from the individual or collectiveperspective.

The opening will be all about music, introducing two concerts that seem to embody the dualism indicated in the festival’s topic. Ditka Haberl, one of the most prominent women in the Slovene popular music scene, will conjure emotional and romantic landscapes that are bound to vanish these days. She will be followed by Marcella and The Forget Me Nots, the eight-member-allwomen group referred to as a ‘post-apocalyptic cabaret orchestra’. The outstanding Lauren Newton and Joëlle Léandre will create music through the freedom of improvisation, whilst ethic music band DakhaBrakha will demonstrate their commitment to Ukrainian cultural heritage through ritualistic tribal rhythms and national costumes. The musician, composer and performer Miya Masaoka also drew inspiration for her Laser Koto project from traditional music, more precisely, from the Japanese koto, which served as a model for a new and unusual instrument for which she also composed music. In a somewhat retro/contemporary fashion the Stereo Total duo will combine the tradition of French chanson with German electronica, whilst the multimedia artist HK119 - whose name was born out of science fiction references and a fictitious barcode number – will in a lo-fi style deliver a tongue-in-cheek critique of mass consumerism with an underlining humorous overtone.

Some of the most exciting female artists today will perform on numerous stages in Ljubljana. I would like to point out artists from the younger generation, Helena Hunter and Eleanor Bauer, who investigate in an imaginative manner the inner world of the performer – who wants and must strive to succeed, but the way to success seems caught up in a vicious circle of absurd failed attempts – and so reflects on the position of the individual or artist today.

Quite the opposite, Antonia Baehr in her performance laughs in every possible way – and in spite of contagious laughter breaking out – her act also reflects nuances that investigate the multiple layers of human identity. Nicole Beutler and Guerrilla Girls on Tour incorporate in their work tradition and history. In her minimalistic masterpiece 2: Dialogue with Lucinda, Beutler with a special subtlety and a strong visual charge, has produced an artistic remake of two choreographies by Lucinda Child, the icon of postmodernism, whilst GGOT in a vivacious and witty way address the history of women, this time from the perspective of obsession over food, diet and physical appearance.

In addition to a number of foreign guests, we eagerly anticipate the premieres of outstanding

Slovene artists Andreja Rauch Podrzavnik, Nataša Živković and Katarina Stegnar whose work goes beyond the festival’s topic but forms a part of a unique platform open to local female artists with pervasive ideas and approaches.

The international group exhibition One Step Forward, Two Steps Back introduces a number of visual and intermedia artists and performers, including Oreet Ashery, Perry Bard, StefaniaBonatelli, Katharina Hesse & Lara Day, Meta Grgurevič, Jessica Lagunas, Vesna Miličević, Nandipha Mntambo, Katarina Mootich, Maflohé Passedouet, Kira O’Reilly, Petra Reimann, Yvonne De Rosa and Judith Witteman, who contribute to the extensive programme at Škuc Gallery.

The exhibition focuses on »now«, on this very moment, on the present in relation to time – future and past, as shown in the unique project by Perry Bard, entitled Man With a Movie Camera: Global Remake in which the artist explores the nature and possibilities of media production in the past and at present; or Hairoism, Oreet Ashery’s performance that takes Eleanor Antin’s The King of 1972 as a departure point. Whilst Antin examines her male and political self, Ashery exposes the absurdity of the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Special attention has been given to a series of live events, including performances, actions, workshops, discussions with artists and a panel in order to introduce the artists and their creative endeavours to the audience in the best possible way.

A rather large portion of the programme is dedicated to film and video, selected by Vanja Kaluđerčić (feature and short films), Barbara Kelbl (Kinobalon) and Marina Gržinić (video programme and discussion on the subject of Racism, Europe, Capital, Queer). The latter selection deals with human rights and the thin line determining the »acquisition« of rights or their termination and cancellation as stated by Marina Gržinić. Gržinić and Aina Šmid, alongside Tanja Ostojić & David Rych, Ana Hoffner and Isa Rosenberger, also present one of their works within the selected programme.

This year’s film programme is focusing on first and second-time filmmakers. It comprises mainly personal stories of an individual’s intimate ties and burdens relating to the past, or the obstacles confronted by girls in modern day Afghanistan along the way to securing an education – such is the story narrated in Hana Makmalbaf’s film debut.

Filmmakers presented in the programme, Sophie Deraspe, Sonja Heiss, Manon de Boer, Birgitte Stærmose, Charlotte Ginsborg and Shalimar Preuss explore the frontiers of narrative and visual form and prove to be fresh and distinctive cinematic voices. The same can be said of a provocative project by Mia Engberg that will most likely recall a lot of memories around the history of Kinodvor, which used to be the home to Kino Sloga.

A lot more is also set to happen – be it spontaneously, unpredictably or under the motto »here and now«.

For sixteen years now, the Festival has been organised with huge enthusiasm, hoping to give the room for differing views and approaches, equality, diversity, creativity… Come and join us. It would be our greatest pleasure to welcome you.

Mara Vujić, Artistic Co-Director of the 16th International Festival of Contemporary Arts – City of Women