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The Curved/ Stripburger/ Pssst... :

"Artfully transforming society "

An interview with
Tea
from Ljubljana , Slovenia

by Haydeé Jiménez & Elke Zobl


May 2008

 

"Whether you speak about individual acts of resistance, about organized struggles, about art projects, about self-managed social experiments, even about the invisible day and night dreaming that expand the mental space, all these things, in my view, are re-envisioning and transforming society
..."
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Can you tell me a little bit about your personal (age, place of birth and residence etc.) and educational background?
28 years old, born and living in Ljubljana, trying to study again (postgraduate, gender studies). Before that, I studied literature and sociology

What are you currently doing, or involved in, besides your zines?
I work in a small book shop; translate from English; occasionally write essays, columns, reviews, etc. for LGBT magazine Narobe, for left-wing theory magazines Borec and CKZ, for others too. Read comics, fiction, science fiction and recently also feminist critiques of other feminist critiques of Darwin’s evolution theory. That's where you end up if you like imagining and making figures of monsters and other strange creatures!
Can you tell our readers about The Curved & Stripburger?
What were they about and what inspired you to create these zines?
TheCurved (2003) was the last zine I made. I was really into zines and the whole culture around them earlier; I made five and a half issues of Pssst… zine between 1997 and 2001. Pssst… was a personal zine in Slovenian and English which included my – and my (pen)friends – short essays, stories, poems, drawings, photos and comics – that dealt with gender, sex and generally liked to complain just how badly capitalism fucked us all up;) The last bigger zine project with several contributors was dedicated to eroticism – it was called Slasticarna and released by KUD Mreza and KUD Anarhiv in 2002. After that, I made a few mini travel zines. The Curved was the last one. It was about my trips to Italy and focused on the politics and drama of several Italian squats.

Stripburger (http://www.stripburger.org/) is the only Slovenian (maga)zine that has been continually publishing comics since 1993. It started as a zine about graffiti, photography, comics and other artistic off-springs of the hard core music scene and later focused on independent comics only. I've been part of the editorial and shit-working team only for the last year. I co-edited two issues, and I think I am most happy about issue #46 which was made in collaboration with City of Women festival (contemporary art festival that happens in Ljubljana every October, http://www.cityofwomen.org/2008/) and focused on female comic artists only. I am also happy that my Stripburger colleagues convinced me to write a script which was eventually drawn by David Krancan. It's called Confindence per Person and you can check it out here: http://prepih.blogspot.com/2007_09_01_archive.html#236487983810374714

You still write fiction and essays. Where/how do you publish your work and what do you hope to accomplish with your writing?
I publish where it’s possible (on-line, print, radio), meaning that both the publisher and I like each other’s work. I mostly publish essays in local magazines that write about one or other aspect of culture in relation to politics. I haven’t written that many short stories lately, or rather, never finished them so I just put the new stuff on my blog and later, if there is interest, they get published in literary magazines.
Accomplish? Peace of mind. Feedback. Rent money.



pssst...3 & slasticarna

Do you collaborate with other writers or artists?
Sometimes. The latest collaboration I did was with Damijan Kracina, a Slovenian sculptor who also likes imaginary creatures – he and painter Vladimir Leben have made an impressive collection of creatures »from Galapagos« that can be seen here: http://www.galapagos.si/about.htm

They asked me to make up a believable description of one of their creatures and since I fell in love with the supposed amphibian on the verge of extinction, called the great muddigger (or Caenulentus major in Latin), I wrote a short story about it. We self-published it (in Slovenian) in a tiny booklet Izvajanje velikega blatarja that accompanied the release of Galapagos Guide (2007) catalogue. On May 2 nd 2008 we are going to 'perform' the story at Konfuzija, the 2 nd Slovenian science fiction, fantasy and horror convention in Secovlje. The English version of The Explication of the Great Muddigger is here: http://prepih.blogspot.com/2008_04_01_archive.html#6172704932271519338

You organize the Rdece zore / Red Dawns festival. Can you tell us about it?
I have been one of the co-organisers from 2001 to 2008. It is a feminist and queer festival that has grown way bigger than we ever expected – or perhaps even wanted it to be. You can read all about it on our webpage: http://www.kudmreza.org/rdece/ and our blog: http://www.rdecezore.blogspot.com/

What kind of responses have you had from people who attend the festival?
Surprisingly good! But I guess we had a scandalous opening this year since Svetlana Makarovic, the notorious Slovenian female writer, poet and singer agreed to open Red Dawns with her speech and re-interpretation of The Little Red Riding Hood fairytale. The first thing she said when she got on stage was that she is not a feminist (but rather, an individualist and artist who cannot identify with any ideology). To hear that from her mouth at the only festival in Slovenia that is self-defined as feminist and queer – to me, it was the best contradiction we produced so far and I was amused by it. But not everybody thought so. I know for certain that several people wanted to leave the venue in protest. However, the place was so packed they couldn’t!

The really negative responses we got (that I know of) were from several hetero men who do not and – as it seemed after talking to them – do not want to understand why we insist on making certain events for women and trans people only.

What was your first exposure to zines? How did you find out about them?
Through a rock, hard core and metal magazine called Rock Vibe that included local zines' reviews and made life in that shithole called Cerkno where I and my then best friend went to primary school bearable. So we were like 13, 14 years old, both living in villages of 300 people and desperate to leave… For me, fiction, zines and mail correspondence were the ideal escape route. For her, it was poetry and metal music.

What did you love about zines? Were there aspects you found challenging or limiting in the zine community (e.g. being a subculture/scene, its demographic being mostly white, middle-class)?
I loved the fact that there were people living in similar shitholes all over the Nothern Hemisphere who, instead of (or, should I say, besides?) getting wasted on booze, horse, etc., made their own small publications and exchanged them through an incredibly functional network – in the era before internet became generally accessible. I loved the process of making a zine. From writing and drawing to putting it together with scissors, glue, computer, and eventually send it out to people – it was really exciting. The things I've read in zines and then discussed with my many pen friends have taught me a lot, »saved my life«, as I would have said then. Only later, after collecting, reading, exchanging, making and distribution zines for a few years, I became aware of their limitations. Yes, the zine culture I knew first was obviously a specific subculture obsessed with a very limited array of topics, namely music, anarchism, squatting, animal rights (veganism), etc. The specific obsessions of what you call the white and middle class demographic (I'd say mostly white boys in their late teens) were becoming really disturbing when they propagated certain lifestyles in a very arrogant way – probably no need to talk about the skateboarding-old-school-hardcore-straight-edge-krishna types here. But it was the exceptions I was getting interested in plus I was lucky to be involved in the zine scene at a time when you could find variety in Slovenian zines, as well. By the way, the Slovenian zine scene of the late nineties has been documented really well by Petra Kolmancic in her book Fanzini: komunikacijski mediji subkultur (2001). Petra was interviewed for a centerr-left political magazine Mladina in 2001. The interview includes the list of (almost) all Slovenian fanzines that existed at the time but no longer do: http://www.mladina.si/tednik/200133/clanek/fanzini/

Eventually, I became quite selective and searched for zines with contents that responded to my growing interest in writing, feminism, queer culture. I should say that it was zines in fact that introduced me to feminism in the first place! Of course, that does not mean I exempt those zines from the before mentioned ‘specific subcultural obsessions’ critique; on the contrary, it is the reason why I stopped collecting and reading zines.



the curved & Izvajanje velikega blatarja


Which role does the Internet play for you?
Internet and e-mail specifically was the second reason I stopped corresponding with zinesters and eventually stopped making them. At first, e-mail totally fucked up my mind 'cause it seemed so perfect for a more effective and functional communication that I basically stopped writing and sending letters through »snail mail«. When I realized I missed the charm of handwriting and the contemplative element of letters and should therefore learn to separate functional e-mail communication from handwritten flows of thought, I already lost my interest in zines.

Today, internet is a tool and source of information I use daily. I definitely like the practical side of web more than I appreciate its looks. It must be because I know nothing about design;) Also, I tend to keep away from the haste of forums, chat rooms and most blogs. Of course, that does not keep me from having my own blog Prepih (Draught): http://prepih.blogspot.com/

Are there feminist maga/zinesters/writers that have inspired you lately? Please name some of your favorite maga/zines and the reasons why you like them.
I don't really read zines anymore. I did see the Viennese Cunt Stunt recently and liked it a lot. I know that Veruska Bellistri's impressive queer zine Clit Rocket (from Rome) is still around. The Serbian zine Last Breath is nice to see just because the editors are trying to (re)connect ex-Yugoslavian punk and hard core music scenes. But as I said, I don't really know what is out there anymore.

When you were doing zines, did you feel part of a (grrrl or general) zine community or network and what did it mean to you? What does the zine scene/community/network look like where you live?
There is no zine scene where I live right now. Optimistically speaking, maybe there is one and I just don't know about it. I did feel part of a network, and what I liked about it was that it was very loose, very fragmented and yet functional. Nowadays, I meet or come across people who used to be involved in the grrrl or queer zine scene in various women's, feminist or queer collectives, small publishing houses and print shops, zine libraries, art groups, projects, associations, festivals, etc. The knowledge that these connections (still) exist and that people have found the way of work that suits them most is definitely inspiring.

What do you think about feminism today?
Depends which feminism you're talking about. I like non-professional feminists who don't take themselves too seriously, who mix politics with art and theory and are able to think about gender in the context of economic, geopolitical, cultural, biological, etc. differences; both those we all seem to like and cherish (like differences of perspective, experience, knowledge, and of course, our fabulous strange looks;) and those we don't: the discriminatory ones. I have been more interested in the cross sections of leftist feminism and queer perspectives lately, especially those who dare to look at the history of our bodies, the dictates of flesh rather than ignore it.

What would a “grrrl”-friendly society look like in your view? How do you think society might be re-envisioned and transformed in order to become an “ideal” world for women, grrrls and queer folks? Do you have any suggestions for the development of women/grrrl/queer-friendly policies?
I'd be happy with a really boring society in which people would live without the constant fear of something happening to them. Utopian literature has proven many times that hypothetical ideal societies are boring exactly because they are static in the sense that there is no conflict, no tension, nothing unexpencted and tragic they have to deal with. That seems to explain why they are located in the u-topos, the place that does not exist.

On the other hand, I think that there are many small, local and temporary utopias always being tested. Whether you speak about individual acts of resistance, about organized struggles, about art projects, about self-managed social experiments, even about the invisible day and night dreaming that expand the mental space, all these things, in my view, are re-envisioning and transforming society.




info:


Tea


tea.hvala [AT] radiostudent.si


http://radiostudent.si


li
nks

persoal
blog Prepih (Draught):
http://prepih.blogspot.com/


Stripburger:
http://www.stripburger.org/


City of Women festival:
http://www.cityofwomen.org/2008/


Confindence per Person : http://prepih.blogspot.com/2007_09_01_archive.html#236487983810374714


http://www.galapagos.si/about.htm

English version of The Explication of the Great Muddigger: http://prepih.blogspot.com/2008_04_01_archive.html#6172704932271519338

http://www.galapagos.si/about.htm

Rdece zore / Red Dawns festival 2009
webpage: http://www.kudmreza.org/rdece/
blog: http://www.rdecezore.blogspot.com/



 


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