PAST TRANSITION - WELCOME TO THE FUTURE?

"The term 'transition' is used...for the stretch of time it takes a person to change into the other gender. Now, I'm not going from A to B, but rather zigzagging my way through a large, open space of possibilities. This space of appropriation, play and experimentation would be virtually non-existent were it not for art and the dynamic between art and the artfulness of living a different life." (Hans Scheirl)

The choice of the theme Past Transition - Welcome to the Future? was triggered by the specific context of preparing and producing the tenth anniversary of the City of Women.
In 2004 Slovenia joined the European Union; for some, this meant a long promoted 'better' future; for others, it was the final manifestation of a 'lost' past; while there were those (including the City of Women) for whom it was an inescapable reality, which continuously urges us to think, envision, struggle, contest, and eventually inscribe alternative social and artistic codes and visions.

In 2004, the City of Women festival celebrates its first ten years, a moment to reflect on past performance, envision future strategies and concepts, and (once again) struggle for the present/presence: following the logic of national cultural policies in Slovenia, it seems that at the end of the 'transitional' period the options for a critical cultural project are either to become an institution, claiming territory, space, identity; or to disappear in marginality. The City of Women aims at neither.

Having this in mind, our programme represents a search for the 'transitional', the 'not yet' defined moment in the here and now, the 'large open space of possibilities', which escapes the prefabricated mind set, the (violent) need for identification, the capitalist, western-rational idea of progress from 'A to B', but which instead allows us to open our minds towards different futures. The City of Women invites you on a spaceship, time- travelling, re-visiting ghosts of the past, global economies of the near future, as well as parallel universes, in which events unfold unpredictably (Kath Weston, Gender in Real Time). In the words of the Otolith Group, (presenting their film as one of the opening events), time-travel becomes a metaphor for "revisiting forgotten histories and designing future scenarios that converge into .. science fictions of the present".
The (science) fictions of the present, or transitional moments of possibility, are presented by more than 40 artists, many of whom depart from any clearly defined genre, and/or are innovators in the use of digital technologies, e.g. composer, performer and sound artist Pamela Z (USA); dancer, singer, performer Eddie Ladd (Wales / UK); designer, video artist, director Hiroko Tanahashi (Japan / Berlin); visual artist and 'pop star' Anat Ben- David (Israel / UK); famous electro punk band and video artists Le Tigre (USA); theatre and video artists Lina Saneh and Rabih Mroué (Lebanon).
Others invest in a re-articulation of traditional artistic genres (like the electro, neo-folk duo CocoRosie (USA), or one of the world's finest Roma singers, Mitsou (Hungary), explore the vast terrain of trans-gendered articulations (trans-gender performer Dred (USA); visual artist Alicija Zebrovska (Poland), or echo our closest histories and futures (Austrian Film Cycle; actress and cabaret artist Hasija Boric; Belgrade's underground hip-hop duo Bicarke na travi).
To reflect further on the future of City of Women, we have invited producers, artists and curators engaged in kindred artistic projects to create or curate parts of the festival program, and to debate future strategies for cultural production. The collaboration has resulted in two guest exhibitions (Dreams of the Future, curated by Katy Deepwell (UK), editor of n.paradoxa feminist art journal, and + Behind The Firewall > Situations, curated by Karen Wong, HTMlles new media festival, Montreal, Canada), an one-week mobile investigation of the conditions of cultural work (Cuisine Interne Keuken, curated by the organisers of Digitales art and training program on women and new technologies, Brussels) and a Science Fiction Film Cycle (Selves and Territories in Science Fiction, proposed by Laurence Rassel, director of the artist run organisation Constant vzw and one of the coordinators of Digitales).
From another perspective, we may have found ourselves on a doorstep, a transition, surveying the whole, preserving the best of the past, and working towards a good future.

Bettina Knaup, Sabina Potočki;
programme selectors