Sexflies?…In which box?
Monday June 16th 2008, 9:50 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

by Gaby Bila-Gunther

As the editor of the online anthology SEXFLIES that focused on writings from EASTERN European women artists & writers, I was very let down when one of the Romanian-born writers, four days after the opening of the HACK.Fem.EAST show, wanted to have her writing removed from the anthology. This writer is now living in England since two or so years. I was told to contact her by another Romanian artist as she mentioned that her writing will fit in with the theme of SEXFLIES.

After a great deal of email dialogue between myself and this writer, she agreed to send me some work which I published online. Upon her refusal to be part of the project any longer, I asked her the reasons for this and she mentioned that she thought that the project will be about Eastern European women rather than with works from Eastern European artists and she didnt think she belonged in this group, she mentioned. In between the lines she went on to say that I somehow mislead her from the start although I sent her the concept of the entire show and also my SEXFLIES concept weeks before. She agreed to be part of the show without me twisting her arm.

Personally I think she is not very comfortable being put in this box of EASTERN European women artists. Maybe now since she lives in England she doesnt see herself as an Eastern European woman anymore?

I think most of the women in the show have the same ‘problem’…we dont live where we were born but how can we deny our roots? although i left Romania as a child in 1982 together with my family and lived in Australia and now I live in Berlin, I see myself as an EASTERN European woman just as much as an Australian or a Berlin resident. My work comes from my identity and it is shaped by my experiences as a globally displaced individual and I am suprised to hear when others are ashamed to admit or be associated artistically with their roots, their origins.

Another justification regarding her refusal, (in another email) was that the texts were full of mistakes etc..although I put the texts online how I received them. When we were building the website for SEXFLIES many of the stories were censored by the Awardspace provider because of their sexual meanings. Her story was one of them, and we had to change a few letters into numbers or separate the words to fool the computer in order for the story to be able to have a life on the anthology, for example: Cock had to turn into c0ck…and Porn had to turn into p0rn…surprisingly fuck was not one of those words. So we had to change some of words around in order for the story to be allowed online, a fact which I explained also to her in order to curb her outrage. Her responses became rather rude and personal attacks upon my competence. I am not one to take such offence from somebody who I never met, but I was shocked to see this coming from an compatriot. After all the hard work putting the project together, curating the visual art components titled SEXFLIES Goes EAST I didnt think I deserved her disaproval and her ill manners.

No matter what her reasons were for wanting to pull out, I mentioned to her that the show Hack.Fem.EAST is about building networks between women artists from Eastern Europe and not to destroy them or sour the communications like it did in our case.

I personally have no time for DIVAS no matter where they come from and if the art world is so competitive, teaching artists not to be associated with certain labels as they might ruin their careers and if the artists are falling preys to this trap, I think we should think twice about why we are artists and what our voices, our aims are.

I hope that the participants at Hack.Fem.EAST have left Berlin with other experiences and inside other boxes.


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