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Faces mailing-list, initiated in 1996-1997 by Kathy Rae Huffman and Eva Wolgemuth aimed to connect women who were globally active in the areas of culture, new media, arts and technology. It grew out of several face-to-face meetings in Europe, including Rotterdam, Bilbao, Liverpool, St.Petersburg.
The mailing-list started operating in spring 1997. Initially, a relatively high percent of members were from Eastern-Europe. Last autumn, interviewing Kathy Rae Huffman, I asked her if this was somehow intentional or co-incidental to a ‘season’ of Eastern-Europe focused cultural events in Europe. Indeed, at first the make-up of Faces members reflected the travels and personal interests of Kathy and Eva, fuelled by general cultural interest into Eastern-Europe of that period. Faces evolved rapidly but the numbers of Eastern-Europeans increased very little. Talking to some of the Eastern-European members of Faces from that time reveals different reasons why they did not spread the word about Faces and also post and talk more. In general it appears to be due to a feeling of ‘otherness’. At the same time reflecting on my own experience, Faces was (still is) a good community to be part of, even if it is in a form of passive participation, outside my own local political-cultural setting.
In July 1998 Tina LaPorta provoked discussion about Face’s euro-centrism. The discussion leads to Linda Wallace’s post on Nettime in October 1998 concerning how list-objects like Faces and Nettime, communities in so-called cyberspace, could be ‘more’ global. She identifies the list-object faces at core to be euro-centric, “moving towards being northern hemisphere-specific” and as such largely articulates the concerns of that group of people” (Wallace, 1998). Geographically and culturally speaking, Eastern-Europeans are also part of that euro-centric picture. At the same time Eastern-Europeans do not appear to consider themselves as being part of those northern hemisphere-specific concerns either. Since then the membership of Faces has greatly increased towards Northern America. Looking at members’ geographic differences and how that influences ones’ experience of a community like Faces is useful but very limiting. Thinking of Faces I have come to look at it more as another of my local places. Massey (Massey 1991) argued that localities are produced by the intersection of local and global processes. The locality of Faces with all its own local idiosyncrasies and cultural forms (the East-Europeans mixing into it) is reconstructed by certain globalizing forces including and excluding all the others and otherness represented by its members.
Personally, the 10 years and more of Faces has been a way of growing up with that community, continually re-assessing and placing my own practice as a feminist artist within Estonia’s cultural space.
Massey, D. (1991). “A Global Sense of Place.” Marxism Today(24-9 June).
Wallace, L. (1998). “Other Eurocentricisms.” Nettime mailinglist, 16 Oct 1998, Nettime mailing list archives http://www.nettime.org (accessed 17 Nov 2007)
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