Jana Vanecek

Zine – to March Clandestine Life of the BoycottGiiirls!

Bloss nicht wie ein Schwan sein In: Zine – to March Clandestine Life of the BoycottGiiirls! | Corner College Press, 2017 / 2018 | ISBN 978-3-033-06183-5

The Zine – to March, Clandestine Life of the BoycottGiiirls is an artistic response to the International Women’s Day 2017 that came in a highly turbulent global situation and was one of the most political International Women’s Days. We have found ourselves in our localities sensing translocally. With the Zine we catch an “atmospheric flux,” undertake an experiment in “how to get taken up by the motion of a big wave” of women’s protest on a global scale. We want to move instead of being ordered into something. We want to do something in common, to come together, being many and so different, to make feminist media urgent and her voice heard. This collective action needs continuously to return in order to be reinvented and raise collective awareness with the agency of political, social and aesthetic ecologies of coexistence. Women’s liberation movements and feminist politics nowadays mean a liberation of all living forms, human and non-human, an other politics regarding even the rights of the inorganic.

The idea of the Zine came spontaneously and with immediacy. It turns the process of inviting women artists to contribute, into an intervention across time and space. For us the Zine is an event in itself that links us together and generates a collective body immanent-transcendent in its pages as a political and aesthetic living subjectivity. This body engages to create new relations and a new space of (under)commoning. The title brings together the public and the clandestine side of artistic practices. It reconnects work, fiction and life and aims to re-desire the feminist mantra: the personal is political. At the same time it paraphrases the Riot Grrrls in their desire to connect Punk and Feminism, and plays, in a kind of linguistic trick, with what the BoycottGiiirls want: to put Art back into Feminism and Feminism into Art!

This collection brings together contributions by ninety-four women artists, theoreticians and curators who encounter each other personally day-to-day. All of us take part in the so-called local art milieu. Due to the limited space of the printed pages and the limited time of its preparation we could not include many more great women artists. Indeed, the collection has conceptually to remain incomplete and ready to be reopened. We are aware that there is something anachronistic in the use of printed matter in post-digital times, but the volume of a book makes us feel the materiality of our collaboration in our hands as we handle its production and dissemination.

With the Zine we are platforming not as a singular collective or an exclusive group, but call for a more open collectivity and commonality in the field of vision. It is about how we imagine the coalescence of women artists, who are at the same time workers, mothers, housewives, colleagues and friends, in an informal and temporal alliance, conscious to demand a new attitude towards paid and unpaid (artistic) work and to commit to supporting each other in our daily life and work. Therefore, we have to connect art work and work in art to the movements of working women and a precarious workforce, and look for broader cooperation and solidarity between us. We need to invent a new space of participation out of the collaborative energy and time contributed freely to each other.

The Zine was initiated on the backdrop of the 100 years’ anniversary of the Russian Revolution, which is a good occasion to recall the grassroots memory and remember that it was dissent and revolts that culminated in the October Revolution. It is important to say that the events started with a strike by women textile workers on 8 March (on International Women’s Day, which took place on 23 February according to the Julian calendar in use in Russia at the time) who flooded the streets of Petrograd asking for peace and bread and the end of the World War I. Supported by the workers in the nearby factories, their protest quickly turned into a mass strike. The revolt of textile workers breaks monolithic and hegemonic history, but was later omitted from the (grand) narrative. Alexandra Kollontai, a passionate revolutionary and later activist of the Workers’ Opposition of the Communist Party, wrote about the textile workers and their uprising on 8 March but then, curiously, they disappeared from the history of the event.

The year 2018, when we release the Zine, coincides with another anniversary, this time in the West: the workers’ and students’ revolution of 1968. The democratic revolution of May ’68 was said to be an impossible revolution, a revolt against authority, patriarchy and political parties, but it was also a furious search for love, happiness and social togetherness.

That is why we like to repeat with Julia Kristeva, who reflects on these revolutionary events and women’s position in them in Revolt, she said!

Political revolutions ultimately betray revolt because they cease to question themselves. Revolt, as I understand it – psychic revolt, analytic revolt, artistic revolt – refers to a permanent state of questioning, of transformations, an endless probing of appearances. (Julia Kristeva)

Because of this we want to say that art is revolt! Other politics, she said! Our permanent feminist art revolt has just begun.

With care and love

Text by the Editors: Nadja Baldini, Dimitrina Sevova & Tanja Trampe