Thank you artists, lecturers, colleagues, partners, friends, everybody who during the preparation of the festival programme either indirectly or in person supported and inspired us through many talks, discussions, brainstorming and feedback.

Without you the festival wouldn’t be what it is today.


Although the festival presents creativity of women, it’s not aimed to produce a somewhat unifying category – quite the contrary. We refuse any form of categorisation. Women artists, scientists and others that contribute to the festival come from different times, places, histories, artistic practices, social contexts and have various life experiences. Their differences are the result of complex situations attributable to a specific combination of geopolitical historical, economical, sexual, ethnic and personal factors. In art, difference is a creative force, while differences in the society too often result in exclusion and exploitation. For decades, the City of Women has opposed this distortion and tried to remap cultural knowledge.

Last year, on the day of the City of Women festival opening, Chantal Akerman, the filmmaker who left a huge mark on the younger me, killed herself. With the gesture of self-cancellation, the festival’s title My Body – My Territory suddenly gained another dimension - the right to decide on one’s death. The loss of my mother who also decided to end her life probably instigated the thoughts on the relation between life and death that constantly haunted me.

Who does life belong to, who claims it, who exploits it? Religion, state, system, family? What are human and what are civil rights? Whose life counts? The violence of the system that you are born into, live in and die in is to a certain extent always there, however: depending on what part of the world you come from, what social class you are part of, what your gender is or, better yet, what gender you are ascribed, you will experience more or less violence in particular in everyday life. Bare life. Vulnerable life. Resistant life. Why do we persist, where do we persist? What is it that makes life bearable? Could it be… encounters that through persistance grow into loves, friendships, discoveries, social innovations, artworks? Persistence is effort or, better yet, effort is a passion that persists.

In one of his lectures philosopher Gilles Deleuze said: “There is a fundamental affinity between a work of art and an act of resistance.” It sure sounds good, doesn’t it? His idea was developed from Malraux’s concept that art is the only thing that resists death in the sense that it survives death. The problem remains: which artwork survives and why? We therefore propose a different concept of the fundamental affinity between art and resistance for this year’s programme: there is no art or resistance without the effort of imagination. Through art and the relations we explore thereby we look for social imaginaries and imagine alternative narratives. It is not a drive towards immortality but a violent necessity to create cracks. This is not an easy thing. We need you (t)here!


Teja Reba,

Artistic director of the

22nd International Festival of Contemporary Arts – City of Women