Festival of Feminist Culture and Action
FIRSTBORN GIRL #9
10 - 16.06.2021
In the old myths, the world swallows women. Take Persephone, absorbed into the ground while walking through a meadow. Or Daphne, turned into a Laurel Tree to escape a persistent suitor. Or the female hitchhiker genre, in which they all die.
In fairy tales like Alice in Wonderland or the Wizard of Oz, the girls launch into adventure, but only accidentally, and spend the rest of the story trying to get back, following the magic words, there’s no place like home.
What does the narrative of exploration offer women?
Courtney Stephens, Terra Femme, HD video, USA, 2017–21, HD video.
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This year's program of FIRSTBORN GIRL has been realised as part of the project Women on Women (WoW). The project is co-funded by the Creative Europe program of the European Commission, Tiiiit! Inc. is conducting in collaboration with the City of Women, Ljubljana, Common Zone, Zagreb, and Outlandish Theatre Platform, Dublin. The project focuses on gender equality through a feminist perspective, tracing the legacy of women* particularly from a diverse and intersectional perspective.
Similar to the 8th edition of the festival, the festival team will be supported again by the local WOW WoW Group members - women of diverse social, economic, cultural, ethnic, racial, and generational backgrounds, who will be integral to the preparation and realisation of the project's activities and artistic programs. Together with them, we have created a festival program that will inspire you and make you say wow!
*women, transgender, and intersex people who identify as women
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This year, FIRSTBORN GIRL is again encouraging you to change some of your everyday habits - for the better, by offering alternative solutions for reducing waste and providing guidelines on how to minimize environmental pollution, with the goal to create a future with less (almost zero) waste. In collaboration with the initiative From Zero To Zero (Од нула до нула), we have adapted our program and made sure to minimize the waste produced throughout the production of the Festival and to make as small an eco-footprint as possible.
Here are some recommendations on how to treat nature more responsibly. No excuses!
- Come to FIRSTBORN GIRL by bike. Or on foot. It does not matter how long it takes you to get there, what matters is to minimize the air pollution;
- Before heading to FIRSTBORN GIRL, be sure to bring a thermos or a reusable cup/bottle. That way you will not have to buy water in a plastic bottle or drink beer from a plastic cup. No worries, the bartenders will not look at you crookedly when you hand them the thermos/cup for your drink;
- If you are late for FIRSTBORN GIRL and you have forgotten about the thermos or cup in a hurry, just use the plastic cup that you will get with your first drink for the rest of the drinks until the end of the evening;
- Throw the glass bottles in the bin for glass, the plastic cups and cans in the bin for plastic. They will be clearly marked, so please throw the waste accordingly;
- If you are having a coffee, dare to ask for a metal spoon instead of a plastic one;
- This year, we were mindful of the selection of the Festival’s promotional products. There will be cotton bags, scarves and sanitary pad pouches - the use of resources makes sense only when the final product is used over and over again;
- Unfortunately, all of us do not have access to safe and affordable menstrual products or reproductive health education. But that does not mean that you cannot learn about the options. Have you heard of a menstrual cup, reusable pads, or menstrual panties? All of these mean less waste;
- The minorities - the marginalized and vulnerable groups are the first ones to be hit by the climate crisis and pollution. Having this in mind, will you help us make as small an еcological footprint as possible this year?
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Today, after 15 months of living in/with/beside/from... the global pandemic, the key challenge is no longer how to isolate ourselves, but which forms of relations we must preserve and which we must dismiss forever. The commoning and the common - horizontal forms of sociality, building and nurturing communities based on interconnectedness, cooperation, and care for each other and the Earth, have proved to be the only way to survive this global pandemic and to prevent the next one.
The performance program of the ninth edition of FIRSTBORN GIRL agrees with Silvia Federici that no common is possible unless we refuse to base our life and our reproduction on the suffering of others unless we refuse to see ourselves as separate from them and that if commoning has any meaning, it must be the production of ourselves as a common subject.
This year at FIRSTBORN GIRL, we are returning to the stage to turn it into a female space, not private, but public, political! We are questioning the official histories, we are reflecting on the forms of political imagination, we are confronting the dominant narratives. The personal stories, the most intimate memories, the most deeply repressed and long-silenced secrets of one, are becoming ours, common.
So we finally see, not one another, but rather oneself in the other.
So we save (the) us.
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This is a dream not of a common language, but of a powerful infidel heteroglossia.
This is a critical feminist film gesture, rather than a fixed festival film programme.
Critical feminism is an intersectional political philosophy committed to the dismantling of heteronormative, racist, capitalist patriarchy.
The entry point – the title of the programme – quotes Donna Haraway, introducing an ecofeminist political position in this gesture focusing on the different historical understanding of the common and the shared in the image archives and feminist historiographies. The ecofeminist in the historical allows for the introduction of speculative fabulation as a method, for the new forms of narrative and imaginative articulation, for the partial narratives and counter-narratives, for the contradictory, for the transgressed boundaries, for radical connectivism, for “risky reading.”
The pandemic is a social and bodily reality we live in and with, making an even stronger argument than before for practicing relational reading of past, present and future. Thus, the search for politics and narratives that embrace new and joint kinships among human and non-human, people and animals, plants and technology, past, present and future, the partial and the contradictory, crystalized.
Hence, this film gesture rejects the idea of naming a perfectly true female language as another totalizing and imperialist idea, and embraces the restructuring and rereading of the partial as a new common activity “we” can maybe practice. As building kin is about practice. Building imaginative kinships is about staying with the common and playing through and with the common.
Our “we” is not whole, our “we” is not a natural mix of unity, our “we” is neither innocent, nor linear. Our “we” is infidel. Our “we” spreads from our contradictory experiences, from our partial knowledge(s).
Our “we” captures all of our unclosed constructions of the personal and collective self.
Our “we” is a “non-we.”
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Silence began to weigh upon us
We have a long pandemic and populistic year behind us, a year which has deepened the social inequalities. What happened with the culture - the musicians, the film and theater workers, and all of the other culture workers who were paralyzed throughout the year? We have seen a trailer - how life would be without culture. Plenty of artists were faced with the challenge to create/play alone instead of in a band. To perform at home instead of on a stage. In front of a camera instead of a public.
Let’s forget everything we believe we know about the global pandemic. It’s not about Covid - 19, it’s about capitalism. It is clear that it is a systematic problem, but it’s also clear that we need radical changes, which we can’t expect to happen overnight. It’s going to be a marathon, but we must start running. And we must do it together.
This year’s music program is redefining its era. Inspired by the hardcore punk and the hip-hop scene that has always been focused on social critique, we will see Martina Barakovska, YӦU, Dimitra, and NastasyaKish on the 9th edition of FIRSTBORN GIRL. Where there’s space for a scream, there’s space for growth. Without facemasks, without touching - the sound can travel where our bodies can’t; the sound as a power, as a sculptor of social changes, as a menace that connects our most desperate screams.
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Perpetual Inventory of Eco-Feminist Thought and Practice
“The only change capable of saving the world today is that of the “great reversal” of male power which is represented, after agricultural overproductivity, by this mortal industrial expansion. Not “matriarchy,” to be sure, nor “power-to-the-women,” but destruction of power by women. And finally, the end of the tunnel: egalitarian management of a world to be reborn (and no longer “protected” as is still believed by the first wave of timid ecologists).”
noun, countable noun
“a detailed list of all the things in a place”
While the connection between phallocentrism and anthropocentrism seems, even within all feminisms, simple and clear, the connection between women and nature is, both rewarded and problematic, but also disputed, and even divisive for feminist theory. Acting from awareness that not all women are good, patient, spiritual, maternal, or powerless, and not all women can be attributed with virtues as nurturance, empathy, or cooperativeness, we propose this experimental programmatic gesture as an initiation of an ever-growing inventory of ecofeminist thought and practice. We build on the simple understanding of ecological feminism both as a political movement and theoretical position coming-to-life in response to “a set of key problems thrown up by the two great social currents of the later part of this century—feminism and the environment movement—and addresses a number of shared problems.” Thus, we share the ecofeminist position that there are essential links between the treatment of women, or the non-binary, non-white, the underprivileged and the underclass on one hand, and the treatment of the nonhuman natural environment on the other. Furthermore, we firmly believe that not taking these links into consideration by any political or philosophical position, makes it totally inadequate.
The form of perpetual inventory comes as a response to the inadequacies and fixed spaces and categories of closed programme curating. Originating in the temporary working together of diverse women and women’s groups across lands, this is a collaborative feminist micro-gesture taking the form of an open search for the large narratives and the cosmological histories woven within eco-feminist artistic, theoretical and practice-oriented work.
We open the perpetual inventory with three interventions: a performative lecture by Adrianna Quena on feminist commons, feminist political ecology and feminist gardening, a practice-oriented workshop by Andrijana Papikj Mancheva on zero waste, voluntary simplicity in living, and environmental practices for everyday life in the city, and a curatorial cinematic gesture by Kumjana Novakova.
We then leave the stage for your and others gestures to accumulate.
With time, and with need.
Here, and elsewhere.
We sincerely hope that these collaborative gestures will initiate material links between the sensitive web of relationships that constitute the natural world, women's experiences and feminist knowledge(s).
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In the context of this year's central concept of the festival - the re-examination of the concept of the ‘public’ - the youth program focuses on taking over, or more precisely, creating its own public discourse. During the pandemic, young people might have found themselves in the most paralyzed position, on all fronts. Suddenly, their mobility became dangerous, so it had to be curbed; their education underwent a questionably successful adaptation, so they had to find alternative ways of learning. This public discourse was suddenly left deprived from topics that affected young people and furthermore merged into a rather focused flow, which in a way endorsed public topics by estimating their perceived value.
This involuntary absence is also the reference point of the youth program this ninth edition of the festival. Initially, Firstborn Girl started with the decision to encourage network-building by providing space for youth connection. Furthermore, the youth program takes a conscious stance that mentoring and non-formal education empower and build well-informed interests among young people, which in turn are the foundations of future alliances. Because of this, this year's collaborations and program units are primarily aimed at producing argumentative texts that leave behind the trends present in the often rigid academic environment. With this, young people who participate in the program participate in creating new ways of understanding and critical analysis of contemporary trends from a place of knowledge and educated know-how. In this way, the young audience, in addition to being an active observer of society, is also a participant in public discourse. The perspective of young people, especially now, is crucial in creating new practices and operating systems for the future. The youth’s point of view will not be left out because fortunately they do not simply offer it, but rather impose it.