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Interview with Marina Gržinić

1 Professor of Cultural Politics at the University of Sussex, UK
*Corresponding Author:
Marina Gržinić (1958- ) is a philosopher, theoretician, and artist based in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She is a prominent
contemporary theoretical and critical figure in Slovenia. Since 1993, she has been employed at the Institute of
Philosophy at the Scientific and Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Science and Arts (ZRC SAZU).
Since 2003, she has also served as Full Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Austria. Gržinić does
innovative work in practice research, she is a collaborative video artist, and since 1982 has worked together with
Aina Šmid, an art historian and artist also from Ljubljana.
In 1980s Ljubljana, Marina Gržinić was engaged in the constitution of what is generally known as the Ljubljana
alternative or subcultural movement that was developing new artistic practices (like video and performance),
politically engaged movements such as the gay and lesbian scene, and many other processes that were constitutive
for the discussion of the position of art and culture in Slovenia. At that time, these activists demanded and struggled
for a political, emancipated life that would bypass middle class bourgeoisie perceptions of Slovenian society and
reality. Gržinić’s theoretical work is informed by contemporary philosophy and aesthetics after modernism. Her
work is directed towards a theory of ideology, theory of technology, biopolitics/necropolitics, video technology
and transfeminism in connection with the political aims of decoloniality.
Gržinić’s work cannot be easily circumscribed in this or that school or discipline, though in recent years, she’s
brought to Slovenia an increased awareness of global critical philosophy, which is focused on considering the local,
against racism, coloniality, and questioning the necropolitics of global capitalism.
Gržinić has been involved in many video film presentations and curatorial projects. A selection of her books
includes: New Feminism: Worlds of Feminism, Queer and Networking Conditions (co-edited with Rosa Reitsamer, 2008),
Necropolitics, Racialization, and Global Capitalism: Historicization of Biopolitics and Forensics of Politics, Art, and Life (with
Šefik Tatlić, 2014), and Border Thinking: Disassembling Histories of Racialized Violence (editor, 2018).
Could you tell us something about your intellectual journey what do you see as your primary
academic identity or concerns now?
Let me explain the context of cyber-feminism in Europe. In Documenta X,1 Kassel, Germany, 1997 was held the
First Cyberfeminist International,2 organised by the Old Boys Network. In 1999 in Maribor, Slovenia, as part of
the Festival of Computer Arts, I edited in collaboration with Adele Eisenstein the book The Spectralization of
Technology: From Elsewhere to Cyberfeminism and Back. Institutional Modes of the Cyberworld, in which vital cyber feminists
such as Cornelia Sollfrank, Claudia Reiche, Eva Ursprung, Kathy Rae Huffman, Margarete Jahrmann took part in
contributing to and consolidating that historical moment in feminist critical thinking. The Spectralization of Technology
outlined a commitment to feminism, technology, and an entanglement of technology and gender, in a revolt against
digital patriarchy and capitalism - discrimination not only in the real but as well in the virtual space. From that time
1 Documenta X was the tenth edition of quinquennial contemporary art exhibition, held between 21 June and 28 September
1997, in Kassel, Germany. It was the first time a woman, French curator Catherine David, was appointed as its artistic director
(see Documenta, n.d.).
2 The First Cyberfeminist International was the first big meeting of cyberfeminists. Old Boys Network (OBN), the first
international cyberfeminist organisation invited 37 women from 12 countries to discuss the concept of feminism and as a
substitute for finding its definition formulated ‘100 Anti-Theses’ (see
Feminist Encounters: A Journal of Critical Studies in
Culture and Politics, 4(2), 31
ISSN: 2468-4414
Interview with Marina Gržinić
Sally R Munt 1*
Published: September 8, 2020
Munt / Interview with Marina Gržinić
2 / 12 © 2020 by Author/s
onwards in western capitalism, technology and gender has changed radically; the dominant regime of whiteness
made many things exclusive and only for white women in the Occident; such notions and conditions are imbued
with persistently violent relations of power, management of subjectivity and so on. Both my artistic endeavours
and my theoretical work are preoccupied with what it means to be a human being in this time of a hyper-
digitalisation, quantum computers, transhumanist discourses, and I seek to analyse themes of life and death.
In relation to this intellectual history I have been preoccupied by the representation and treatment of refugees
in Europe. Currently, the situation of asylum seekers and refugees and the status of their lives and bodies in the
detention camps in Europe, at the borders of the European Union, or as corpses recovered from the Mediterranean
Sea cannot be described solely as unwanted deaths, fate or destiny. These situations of massive suffering, death,
and misery are also connected to specific historical conditions that both differ from and are in continuity with
what we have here and now. In other words, what we are seeing is an evolving process of persistent dehumanisation
at the centre of the more and more post-human, prosthetic, digitalised global capitalism.
The fundamental relationship in these horrific practices of immigration control is the relationship between
death and life. This is not only connected with immanent philosophical questions such as ‘What is life?’ and ‘What
is death?’ but is also, increasingly, concerned with the elaborate ways of governmentality over life and death, with
strategies and techniques through which life and death are managed, run, controlled by the state, by governments
and by their various institutions. We are seeing a paradoxical situation that in contemporary capitalist societies are
promoting the promise and rhetoric of making life better a process that is known in critical theory by the word
‘biopolitics’ but this is increasingly not really the case today. Biopolitics is a term coined in the mid-1970s by
noted French philosopher Michel Foucault (2010) (who died in 1980); he posited a link between LIFE (Latin: bio)
and politics. Since 2001, we have been witnessing an antithesis: neoliberal global capitalism is producing value
(profit, control) through management not of life but, instead, of death. So global capitalism is a capitalism of
DEATH. It is a regime of power, economics, and aesthetics that posits a link between DEATH and politics that
the South African theoretician Achille Mbembe (2003) named necropolitics. It was 40 years after Foucault that
Mbembe argued that global capitalism is necropolitical, as it decides today only and solely ‘who may live and who
must die’ (2003: 11). This demands from a feminist’s perspective a new politicisation away from biology toward a
new political reconfiguration of women as a political movement.
My thinking about cyberfeminism over the past few decades has crystallised recently. Moreover, what we
experienced in 2020 across the world in relation to a very real life/death threat to the body, the Corona virus, is a
sense of anxiety, not fear. Massimo Recalcati (2019) stated that fear is an emotional response that is connected
with an object, with a visible coming danger, like a weather disaster or similar. With the epidemic of Covid-19, the
threat is not localisable. Anxiety is connected precisely with not having an object of danger, but just an internalised
image. This passage from fear to anxiety changes our ways of how to react, what to think, what to do. Elisabeth
Bakambamba Tambwe (personal communication, 1 May 2020) commented very precisely: ‘all in the 21st century
was presented that is about technology, and now we see clearly in the time of Covid-19 that all depends on us, on
Voila, in the pandemic of 2020, the myth of the posthuman is disintegrating at our thresholds.
However, I am privileged as I have still a wage, but we need to urgently give attention to the hyper-precarious
what is happening to them?
What intellectual traditions from Eastern Europe have you found specifically useful and influential?
Since the 1970s, it became clear for many of us that sex and gender are not some natural states, but are formed
always in connection with a particular social relation. Contrary to the stiff, conceptual binary opposition of two
complementary and at the same time exclusive categories of men and women, a binary that brings back
naturalisation of the binary on which resides the regime of gender, woman (femininity) and man (masculinity) has
been argued to and for 50 years. In 2004 I engaged with what Antonella Corsani (2007) defines as ‘Beyond the
myth of woman: The becoming-transfeminist of (post-)Marxism.’ The later question of transfeminism opened up
possibilities for transformation, even more so the questions of homosexual and queer positions in connection with
the transmigrant, as argued by Tjaša Kancler (2013: 14-15), in a position coming from former Eastern Europe.
This should be clarified, saying that today due to technological prosthesis, pharmaceutical products, and new digital
technologies it is almost impossible to determine where the boundary passes between natural bodies and those
fabricated by the interventions of artificial technologies such as cyber implants, electronic prostheses, hormones,
tablets, organ transplantation and so on.
In 2005 Rosa Reitsamer, a lesbian theoretician from Vienna, exposed centrally a critique of the regime of
whiteness. In her talk ‘In the mix: Race, whiteness and gender in popular culture’ (presented at the 2005 City of
Women festival in Ljubljana), she exposed performativity and racialisation as processes of discrimination that
connect race with class and gender and which have the modality of structural and social racism. This was connected
to what US feminist theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw had described as intersectionality in 1989. We cannot isolate
Feminist Encounters: A Journal of Critical Studies in Culture and Politics, 4(2), 31
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ourselves in thinking. Simply to state in the 1970s parallel to the feminist movement in the USA it was strong
feminist groups in Zagreb (Croatia) and Serbia (Belgrade). These groups of academic powerful women, declared
feminists, followed what was going on in the 1970s in the outside world. In the 1980s and 1990s the powerful gay
and lesbian scene in Ljubljana Slovenia did the same.
The emergence of Slovenian punk in 1977, along with the first coming out of the gay scene in 1984, with a
festival entitled Magnus: ‘Homosexuality and Culture’3 represented something entirely new and different behind
the Iron Curtain in Europe. These two movements (punk and homosexuality) transformed us into urban entities;
they opened up the possibility of conceptualising anti-authoritativeness, different sexualities, the anti-hegemonic
battle against patriarchy and chauvinism, the normalisation of everyday life, and the revolt against depoliticisation.
Contemporary theory and political discourse likewise had a huge impact on our view of the world. Heavily
implicated into the whole thing were also the contemporary theories of French structuralism, post-structuralism,
Lacanian psychoanalysis, and British lesbian and gay theory and practice, as well as postcolonial studies and the
mass media.
Although the first LGBTQ event in Slovenia dates back deep into the times of socialism, in 1984 in Ljubljana
with ‘Magnus Homosexuality and Culture, the first Pride parade in Slovenia was not organised until 2001, and
this was only the immediate result of a direct provocation: an incident in a Ljubljana cafe where a gay couple was
asked to leave for being homosexual.
All of this historical radicalism has been presented by activists and writers such as Tatjana Greif, Suzana
Tratnik, Nataša Sukič, Nataša Velikonja, Urška Sterle, Kristina Hočevar, Nina Hudej, Petra Hrovatin, Simona
Jerala, Barbara Rajgelj, and moreall strong voices within the lesbian movement in Slovenia; and Mojca Dobnikar
and Aigul Hakimova, representing feminist, activist and migrant positions from Slovenia; and Lepa Mlađenović,
Zoe Gudović, and others, from Belgrade; and Sanja Juras, Danijela Almesberger, Nela Pamuković, and others,
from Zagreb. These are just some of the activists that in the last decades have politicised the space of former
Yugoslavia and Eastern Europe, through gender, feminism, lesbianism. Their work is connected also with the first
generations of feminists such as Žarana Papić, Daša Duhaček, and Biljana Kašić. Another hundred names should
be mentioned here, I risk partiality, nevertheless I want to emphasise that our work relates to each other, to a
community of political activism which depended upon lesbian, gay, trans* positions. In the last decade strong
trans* voices and gay positions emerged from former Yugoslavia as Tjaš* Kancler and Piro Rexhepi became
essential for my work. This is inside the space of former Yugoslavia. But we do not live inside a ‘geopolitical
territory,’ we live in the world, therefore the space of former Yugoslavia would not exist in political, emancipatory
ways without the decolonial, lesbian, transfeminists, and Afropessimists thoughts, visions, and horizons.
In reflecting backwards, what is important is to see two moments at work. On the one side, it is a demand for
each of us to perform an analysis of power and yet on the other also to perform that regime of control. I see more
recently that this white anti-racism is changing into a disturbing direction of self-promotion, or, as described by
Derek Hook (2011), a paradoxical instrument of ‘white self-love.’ This has also been heavily criticised by the Black
and migrant positions. Kancler argued that today:
… the biological principle and ontological difference are called into question through positions that deconstruct
the concept of ‘woman’ and ‘man’ in favor of the political thought of differential differences, undisciplined sexual,
ethnic and racial multiplicity, which according to Antonella Corsani goes beyond the binary system as the
epistemological and political core and causes new shifts of categories, discourses, political forms and borders.
(2013: 17-18)
Alongside this critique of binarism, it is necessary to emphasise the transformation of feminism into new-, post-
and trans-feminism positions that are working with and through relations of the agency together with migrants’
positions, Black diaspora, and Women of colour positions. One of the crucial points in these processes was the
emergent attack on the regime of whiteness and capitalism. The outcome was the deconstruction of feminism with
and by postcolonialism, and after 2000 with the decolonial turn of postcolonialism.4 What is clear is, as argued by
3 The first Magnus festival, organised by ŠKUC-Forum and held in Ljubljana (at several venues: Škuc Gallery, KinoŠkuc-
Križanke, Faculty of Philosophy, Disko FV), took place between April 2429, 1984, and presented European and American
gay films, exhibitions, lectures and discussions about gay culture and organisations. The festival is considered as the beginning
of Gay and Lesbian Film Festival of Ljubljana, the oldest of LGBT film festivals in Europe. Slovenia’s first gay organisation,
Cultural Organisation for Socialisation of Homosexuality, was established in December the same year and was named Magnus
after the festival (see
4 The decolonial turn of postcolonialism dates back to the 1998 conference/dialogue at Duke University USA by the South
Asian Subaltern Studies Group and the Latin American Subaltern Studies Group. This conference was the last time that the
Latin American Subaltern Studies Group met. As Ramón Grosfoguel argues, ‘among the many reasons for the split of the
Latin American Subaltern Studies Group, one of them was between those who read subalternity as a postmodern critique
(which represents a Eurocentric critique of eurocentrism) and those who read subalternity as a decolonial critique (which
represents a critique of eurocentrism from subalternised and silenced knowledges)’ (2007: 211).
Munt / Interview with Marina Gržinić
4 / 12 © 2020 by Author/s
Kancler (2013: 17), that the last decade has witnessed a process of de-identification with the category of ‘woman,
that means it put under question the category of ‘woman’ as the subject of the historical feminist struggle. This
also asks for the deconstruction of masculinity and male gender (associated with beliefs like the spin on De
Beauvoir’s ‘One is not born man but rather becomes one,’ or ‘Gays are not men’).
What Kancler (2013: 17) exposes are processes that were triggered by the fact that lesbians, gays, transgender,
intersex, transsexuals, women of colour, ‘Chicanas’ (Mexican American women) and others took a creative and
strategic stance on the level of political statement to bring about the formation of identities that are not fixed but
changed through the constant process of becoming. According to trans* feminist Paul (Beatriz) Preciado (2013),
who has been active in European queer thought and curation, sex persists as the last remnant of nature; even after
technology has completed its task of reconstructing the body. Preciado therefore indicates that in the sense of
technological intervention (technologies of gender), this relation unties the contradiction of essentialism and
constructivism. Thus, we can replace, as they point out, sex and gender with the word ‘technogender’5 because the
bodies can no longer be isolated from the social forces of sexual difference.
Could you tell us some more about your engagements in the 1980s with alternative cultural and
political movements in Ljubljana?
In 2011 in the radio program ‘Lezbomanija’ [Lesbo mania], which was hosted by Nataša Sukič on Radio
Študent, Ljubljana (see, to reflect different histories and conditions for a politics of class,
race, and gender I stated that ‘Before being feminists, we were lesbians.’ In this way, I indicated the necessity for
the persistent articulation of the political subject of the feminist movement, which in the 1980s in Slovenia
expressed itself first as a lesbian political stance. I pointed toward a redefinition of the political subject and its
history, which has become a strategic weapon in the concrete social space.
The coming out of gays in Slovenia, as I already pointed out, occurred in 1984 with a festival entitled ‘Magnus:
Homosexuality and Culture’ that was held at the Student Culture Center (ŠKUC)6 in Ljubljana. In 1987 there
followed the public coming out of lesbians. The gays and lesbians coming out into socialism initiated discussions
for equal rights, and these discussions were not formerly present in the public debates. These debates were initiated
only by the LGBT community that did (and is still doing) a lot of political and social work, vigorously and publicly
exposing different modes of discrimination.
These were impressive years of civil rights festivity in Slovenia, in the late twentieth century, though the 2000s
brought in another reality. On March 25, 2012, a public referendum was held in Slovenia on the proposed new
family code.7 The family code bill, if accepted, would have expanded existing same-sex registered partnerships to
have all the same rights of married couples, excepting adoption (excluding step-child adoption). It would have
expanded provisions protecting the rights of children, such as outlawing corporal punishment and establishing a
children’s ombudsman. The code was rejected, with 54.55% of voters against the law. A conservative group ‘Civil
Initiative for the Family and the Rights of Children,’ in sympathy with the Catholic Church and various right-wing
socially conservative political parties in Slovenia opposed to same-sex unions gathered the required signatures to
force a negative vote.
What was happening in Slovenia with gender politics pre- and post-independence?
Global capitalism constantly renews itself with strategies of re-westernisation, and of brutal biopolitics
(managing life) that transforms relentlessly into necropolitics (managing death), with continuously reinvigorating
precarisation and outsourcing of the more and more class and race antagonised and socially excluded positions
within the job market.
Since 1991, Slovenia, alongside gaining its independence, has erased/nullified (as an act of its necropolitical
sovereignty) around 30,000 people to whom it owed a legal status. The ‘Erased’ (in Slovenian izbrisani) were mainly
people from other former Yugoslav republics, who had been living in Slovenia. They are mostly of non-Slovene
or mixed ethnicity, and they include a significant number of members of Romani communities. Some of those
affected by the ‘erasure’ included former Yugoslav People’s Army officers. They did not apply for or were refused
Slovenian citizenship often because they participated in the war against Slovenia or were otherwise deemed disloyal
5 With the concept of ‘technogender’ Preciado interprets the gender as constructed through technologies, hormones, surgery,
prosthesis, etc. Preciado argues that in the twenty-first century, gender ‘functions as an abstract mechanism for technical
subjectivisations; it is spliced, cut, moved, cited, imitated, swallowed, injected, transplanted, digitized, copied, conceived of as
design, bought, sold, modified, […]. It transmutes’ (Preciado, 2013: 129).
6 ŠKUC beginnings are connected with Ljubljana’s first radical student movement of 1968. It was formally established on
January 31, 1972. ŠKUC was one of the key initiators, supporters and promoters of alternative culture in the late 1970s and
in the 1980s. Today it is one of the leading non-governmental organisations promoting non-profit cultural and artistic activity
in Slovenia (see
7 For the Slovenia’s current Family code see PISG (n.d.).
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to Slovenia. Some of the ‘Erased’ were born in Slovenia but, based on the republican citizenship and birthplace of
their parents had remained citizens of other Yugoslav republics. Others had moved to Slovenia from other parts
of Yugoslavia before the country’s dissolution and remained thereafter 1991. This erasure of 30,000 people was
not a preoccupation with the majority of Slovenians and less of the mass media. The Erased people are a clear
measure of State racism in 1991.
Then, four years after the independence, in 1995, it was proposed by the Slovenian state agency and together
with EU money to hold an international festival only for women, The City of Women [Mesto žensk],8 to act as a
corrective for the perceived under-representation of female artists in public projects. The City of Women in many
respects was a great initiative albeit of western prioritised gender equality, but it had its troubling darker side, as
the festival made invisible other two processes of brutal discrimination: the ‘Erased’ people and the unequal status
of gays and lesbians. While the ‘Erased’ people were produced as a ‘new’ European non-citizens without any
human rights, the situation of homosexuals in Slovenia repeatedly presents the production of the second-grade
citizens. I am elaborating racialisation as a process of capital’s differentiation between citizens (first and second
grade citizens), non-citizens (refuges, asylum seekers), and migrants; they are all violently, but differently
discriminated against, as the labour market under global capitalism relentlessly imposes violent abuses based on
racial, class and gender criteria on im/migrants in Europe.
It is still an open question of how to perceive the City of Women historically, as a negative-utopian or an
affirmative-ironic version of women subjects’ participation in the society at large at that time, and going forward.
Back in 1995, this was criticised at the time as a capitalistic solution that was essentially anti-feminist. The City of
Women did not present itself as explicitly feminist though, something akin to Wittgenstein’s ‘subject [that does]
not belong to the world, [as] it is a border of the world,’ as Marina Vishmidt (n.d.) indicated when reflecting on
feminism and politics. The festival presented a kind of free-market inspired women’s ‘liberation’, that soon made
easier the implementation of turbo-driven neoliberal capitalism in the East of Europe. Nevertheless, it is possible
to argue that the City of Women in Slovenia opened up important and timely topics for reflection in the context
of global capitalism.
How have issues like intersectionality been addressed in feminist politics in Slovenia?
I would argue that the white western anti-racism politics that are performed by and within the regime of
whiteness itself is becoming more grandiose and a caricature of anti-racism that all too often goes into a direction
of self-promotion and ‘charitable anti-racism,’ an unreflective form of racism. Charitable anti-racism was very
much present in the last years in Slovenia when several middle class female public figures collected money and
cooked demonstratively in public (abundantly covered by the mass media) for migrant workers from former
Yugoslav republics that were working temporarily in Slovenia but had lost their jobs. (Better to explicitly state that
they were brutally fired, and kicked out of the company on the street without any payment.) This was because of
a growth in company frauds and bankruptcy at the time, and the repressive state apparatuses and different state
offices did not penalise the companies for their brutal infringement of workers and human rights, but simply
started to deport the temporarily employed or unpaid workers to the other side of the Slovenian Schengen border.
The performance of charitable anti-racism did not substantially change the rights of the workers, and I would argue
was done in bad faith.
Slovenia as a European state is certainly not separate from the ravages of neoliberal anti-humanism. In all these
processes, the human (as the outcome of a capital’s regime of humanisation and as contemporary human capital
subsumed in the unfinished project of western modernisation) stays mostly untouched. The Occident doesn’t want
to deal with it and therefore engages all imaginable post-human modes. In contrast, the present and historical
modes of Occidental colonial de-humanisation remain mostly undiscussed. This relation opens up new
perspectives and challenges on the whole process of becoming human or civilised in Europe. Araba Evelyn
Johnston-Arthur describes the situation in Austria as twofold: on the one side, we have migrants who were invited
into the country by the government in the 1960s to help the post-war reconstruction of the country. On the other
hand, we have a new, expanding group of refugees, fugitives, asylum seekers, and deported persons who find
themselves victims of ever-changing immigration laws established and reinforced on a daily basis by the EU and
tailored, implemented and improved by the nation state (Johnston-Arthur and Kazeem, 2007).
This leads to a process of internal division and conflict that could be named in relation to Franz Fanon’s ‘Zone
of Being and Zone of Non-Being’ (1967). It makes a sharp contrast not only between the former Eastern Europe
and ‘former Western Europe,’ but also in relation to the Black diaspora citizens, refugees and asylum seekers in
I am interested in this new Europe that (in the same way as global capitalism) can be described, by Angela
Mitropoulos (2009: 5) as: the ‘confluence of foreigners, slaves, women and children’. To her definition I add
8 City of Women Association for the Promotion of Women in Culture was founded in 1996 in Ljubljana, Slovenia (see
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migrants and all those who disrupt ‘an authentication of power through origin-stories and their transmission, as
fact and naturalised foundation’ of Europe and the global world. I argue (with reference to Mitropoulos) that
Europe today in its most basic sense is constituted by ‘the problem of the legal form of value, of its imposition
and perseverance,’ and by ‘origin and lineage’ (Mitropoulos, 2009: 5).
Europe’s migration/labour, capital, sexual reproduction, and race/ethnicity are nowhere more disputed and
uneasy than at its frontiers between the former spectral East and ‘former’ Western Europe. This is a meeting point
of ‘natural’ citizens and migrants, colonisers and descendants of the colonised, in the European Union and non-
EU states. Europe is renewed today through a genealogy that excludes all those who are seen from its Western
perspective as unimportant (that are further constructed ideologically as subhuman through a process of
dehumanisation). This process stays insufficiently reflected upon, also in part due to the new rhetoric developed
in contemporary philosophy and its theory of the posthuman.
Could you tell us a little about yourself as an artist? Your work with Aina Šmid spans 40 years, how
fundamental has gender and feminism been in your own art production and how have these themes
The form by which hierarchical relations are reproduced from country to country, and the way countries are
positioned in relation to each other (who is inside the EU and who is outside) such as sorting of bodies, which
enables the free movement of products while forcing so many people to remain in total immobility (incarcerating
them in refugee centres, halfway houses, and transit camps), is a (monstrous) image of the European reproductive
model (chauvinistic, racist and deeply fascistic) for protecting neoliberal capitalist democracies. Consequently, to
be a woman, and especially to be a Black woman or a woman from outside the EU, means to be treated as a
voiceless victim without proper civil rights.
In the 1980s, we attempted to find out if we could apply our feminist and radical ideas about art and politics to
a critical interrogation of socialism and its ideology. At the time, underground art, no less than alternative culture
and politics, was under the constant surveillance of Yugoslavia’s socialist state apparatus and its repressive
institutional structures.
In the first half of the 1990s, the development of our video art was profoundly connected with the conflicts
and wars in the Balkans.9 This period begins with the video Bilocation (1990, see Figure 1) and continues with The
Sower (1991, see Figure 2), Three Sisters (1992, see Figure 3), Labyrinth (1993, see Figure 4), and Luna 10 (1994,
see Figure 5). The links between the politics of the body, history, and the theory of video are clearly apparent in
our first production Bilocation. The title itself refers to the notion of the body residing in two different places
simultaneously. Indeed, this idea of being in two or more different places at the same time (war, history, revolution)
or impossibly uniting two levels of meaning of history and of the (political) body glimmering in the present, or
vice versa is a perfect description of a process basic to video and remained a core theme in our 1990s work.
I would argue that, because the video image (unlike film) has no depth, these electronic video pages are
territories impregnated with blood. The video suture the joining of the edges where two or more video images,
or pages, collide is not merely the intersection of juxtaposed empty scenes; on the contrary, this suture can be
the bloodstain of excess. All of this led to a certain radical turn in film history. Jean-Luc Godard, defining French
New Wave cinema (which was at its height in the period 19581964), said: ‘It’s not blood, it’s red.’10 But what we
learned from the body in communism is the very opposite: ‘It is not red, it is blood’: it is the indivisible post-
communist remainder that is not (yet?) re-integratable into the global immaterial and virtual world of new media.
9 In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (comprised of six republics: Bosnia and
Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia) experienced a period of intense political and economic
crisis coinciding with the collapse of communism and resurgent nationalism in Eastern Europe. The first of the six countries
to formally leave Yugoslavia, blaming Serbia of unjust domination of Yugoslavia's government, military and finances, was
Slovenia in 1991; this triggered a ten-day war with the Yugoslav National Army. Croatia broke up at the same time as Slovenia,
but the war lasted until 1995. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the conflict turned into a bloodiest three-sided fight for territories
(between Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Serbs, and Bosnian Croats); it is estimated that more than 100,000 people were killed and
two million people were forced to flee their homes. In Kosovo, violence flared in 1998 and lasted until 1999. Macedonia was
the only country that enjoyed a peaceful separation in the fall of 1991, with sporadic armed conflicts later on in 2001 (ICTY,
n.d.). On the Milošević’s trial see Nevenka Tromp’s book (2016).
10 A French-Swiss film director, screenwriter and film critic was answering a question why there was so much blood in his
movie Pierrot (Thomson, 2014: 412).
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Figure 1. Marina Gržinić and Aina Šmid, Bilokacija (Bilocation), 1990. © Gržinić and Šmid.
Figure 2. Marina Gržinić and Aina Šmid, Sejalec (The Sower), 1991. © Gržinić and Šmid.
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8 / 12 © 2020 by Author/s
Figure 3. Marina Gržinić and Aina Šmid, Tri sestre (Three Sisters), 1992. © Gržinić and Šmid.
Figure 4. Marina Gržinić and Aina Šmid, Labirint (Labyrinth), 1993. © Gržinić and Šmid.
Feminist Encounters: A Journal of Critical Studies in Culture and Politics, 4(2), 31
© 2020 by Author/s 9 / 12
In the 1990s, this creative destiny was also shaped by a completely different political and artistic situation in
this period our videos were influenced, or more precisely, dominated, by the Balkan wars. We encrusted
documentary footage of the violence with staged fictional material, and thus showed how electronic processes
could be used to bring about the political organisation of the video image.
Since the end of the 1990s, we have been primarily interested in developing a critique of neoliberal
‘turbocapitalism,’ exploring processuality and performative politics, and undermining (and opposing) the notion
of culture as merely a utopian site of (bourgeois) freedom and creativity. It is becoming, after all, increasingly
obvious that today, thanks to neoliberal ‘normalisation’ processes, which ensure that citizens themselves contribute
to and enforce their own self-censorship by internalising and normalising forms of control, culture has become, in
its official institutions, production, and discourses, arguably the most repressive level of contemporary capitalist
society and, indeed, since Slovenia is now a part of capitalism, of contemporary turbo-neoliberal Slovenian society.
The crisis of representation in contemporary art (and not only in video) is connected, therefore, with the extent
to which we are able to relocate the conflict, the social contradiction, back in the work. Precisely because the
politics of representation is still such an open question, we must ask: How can we make video art an explicitly
political practice? In what way can this be done? Our answer comes in searching for ways to re/present conflict in
the work of art, conflict that points to processes of social contradiction, racial injustice, and capital expropriation.
This means reorganising the format of the video frame so it can be opened up to intervention, and re-appropriating
the language of this intervention by linking it directly to art and culture as once again possible pertinent practices.
But to do this, the medium and the knowledge it contains must be extended beyond the confines of Europe; our
task, then, must be to examine Western democracy’s relation to imperialism and colonialism, freedom and
Could you comment on queer politics in Slovenia and how you think it has changed over the years in
relation to political changes in your country?
I will say that it is important to differentiate between a ‘naive, benevolent’ support of women’s practices in
Eastern Europe, on the one side, and the feminist and theoretical imperialism that can be unmistakably recognised
throughout recent decades. As was exposed by bell hooks (1981), Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (2008), Chandra
Talpade Mohanty (1996), and Goldie Osuri (2009), for example, at the centre of such imperialism remains a
colonial politics of representation, expressions of cultural tolerance and attempts to identify with the Other
(wo/man). But this imperialism works hand in hand with the worship of capitalism as bringer of freedom, the
Figure 5. Marina Gržinić and Aina Šmid, Luna 10, 1994. © Gržinić and Šmid.
Munt / Interview with Marina Gržinić
10 / 12 © 2020 by Author/s
celebration of a privatised selfhood, and a conservative, traditional gender politics that becomes a measure of
biopolitical governmentality. It is important to understand that after the fall of the Berlin Wall, this Other was
celebrated precisely by privileging identity politics and culture as divided from the social and political, not to
mention the colonial and neoliberal.
Marie-Hélène Bourcier (2005) emphasises not only that queer feminism started to develop in its first wave by
attacking heteronormativity, but that nowadays it is also important to engage in the questioning of
homonormativity. Bourcier engages today with the critique of Butler and of the French materialist feminists and
lesbians, notably Monique Wittig.11 What is central to the translation of the U.S. queer movement into European
contexts are the questions posed by the Chicana, mestiza, and African American feminists and lesbian positions
that imported ideas into early queer activisms in Europe. In the 1990s, Chicana and Asian feminists’ positions
asked for intersectionality. They also asked for their positions of empowerment to be recognised. Nonetheless, as
pointed out by Bourcier concerning the European context: the political subject positions of identity politics were
nullified by the structuralist and poststructuralist theories and their narratives concerning the death of the subject.
Bourcier stated very precisely that the bringing of the queer movement from the United States to Europe did
not escape from provoking the same questions raised by the American queers of colour. Bourcier argues that in
the USA context the queer of colour exposed how they were always suppressed by the white majority.
What was the result of the conceptual and political incompetence let us ask following Bourcier by many of
the irresponsible and tainted white theoreticians of the West of Europe? The product of this process was inevitably
racism and disregard for the positions of minorities. Bourcier argued that the choice was to either get rid of identity
politics altogether or just to stop working in such a context due to its incapacity to recognise important points of
difference within it. Bourcier explained when criticising the Republican Universalist claims that French
intellectuals, followed by the official gay and lesbian movements have still not understood this argument and
unfortunately continue to be missing the political potential of cultural identities.
To summarise, the possibility for a queer political materialism is to embrace the question of race that is
according to Bourcier the ‘Achilles heel’ of white feminism since the first queer wave movement which occurred
in Europe in the 1990s. To understand that the second wave queer started to bring forward this moment is very
important. Moreover, queer theory of the first wave has constructed heterosexuality as its main enemy. Therefore,
these questions are at the core of the transfeminist epistemological matrix. Latterly, Trans Studies has brought as
a major contribution into the European context, foregrounding such topics such as labour, job insecurity, sex
work, and I would say adding a very powerful questioning of the formation of the Western, occidental white
epistemic matrix, which is actually a matrix of pure (colonial) violence.
Here a new demand for the critique of pseudo-naturality of the alignment of ‘the same sex/same gender’ type
is also present (also called cis-gender). Indeed, this position has resulted in an enhancement of the gendered female
subject who has been associated with a certain naturalisation of women (against the male subject, and of course
many others, including transsexuals). It presupposes, as pointed out by Bourcier, the existence of a woman and of
domination that erases all differences amongst and between women. This then results in declaring that sexist
domination is equal to slavery but without questioning the colonial presuppositions that such a shift implies.
Regrettably, it resulted in a deletion of the issue of racism in western feminism, and with an absence of
race/ethnicity in positions of feminist theory. Therefore, this is why the North American outsiders such as Audre
Lorde12 or the mestiza consciousness of Chicana lesbians such as Cherríe Moraga13 that live at the borders, are
crucial for European feminists too, as they put into question this new purity of dogma. Donna Haraway’s (1991)
cyborg had initially the same aim. I am in sympathy with Bourcier who opposes any idea of female moral
superiority, innocence, or arguments posing our greater closeness to nature.
The question remains whether European queer politics can be seen without a more precise re-elaboration of
the relation between queer and the other two constructed social categories of nationality, and race? And if we
erase race from our critical framework of queer, our conceptualisation of queer (in the relation to nation-State and
11 Wittig was particularly interested in overcoming gender and the heterosexual contract. Her first novel was published in 1964
as L’Opoponax; her second, Les Guérillères, published in 1969, a collection of prose poems on lesbian love and the female body,
is considered a landmark in lesbian feminism.
12 American philosopher Audre Lorde (19341992) described herself as a ‘black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.’ She was a
noted prose writer as well as poet, dedicated to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, and
homophobia. She is the author of The First Cities (1968), Cables to Rage (1970), From a Land Where Other People Live (1972), New
York Head Shop and Museum (1974), Coal (1976), The Black Unicorn (1978), The Cancer Journals (1980), Zami: A New Spelling of My
Name (1982), Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (1984), A Burst of Light (1988) (see Poetry Foundation, n.d.).
13 Cherrie Moraga is a Chicana writer, poet, essayist, playwright and feminist activist. She began as a co-editor (with Gloria
Anzaldúa) of the avant-garde feminist anthology This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by radical women of color (1981). Her latest
books include: Waiting in the Wings: Portrait of a queer motherhood (1997), A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness: Writings, 2000-
2010 (2011), and Native Country of the Heart: A memoir (2019) (see
Feminist Encounters: A Journal of Critical Studies in Culture and Politics, 4(2), 31
© 2020 by Author/s 11 / 12
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… the principle of citations, as Spivak reminds us, echoing Derrida. Letting others speak in my text is not only a way of inscribing my work in a collective political movement; it is also a way of practicing what I preach. The dissolution of steady identities advocated by the poststructuralist generation is no mere rhetorical formula for me: the dethroning of the "transcendental narcissism" of the philosophizing "I" is a point of nonreturn. Letting the voices of others echo through my text is therefore a way of actualizing the noncentrality of the "I" to the project of thinking, while attaching it/her to a collective project. This essay is situated at the intersection of two trajectories of critical thought: feminism and post-workerism. In the displacements brought about by feminism, it seeks to grasp the need to rethink the categories of the critique of political economy. The feminism to which I am referring here is essentially that which reconfigured itself following its confrontation with the homosexual and post-colonial movements—a feminism that I will call transfeminism, using a term borrowed from Beatriz Preciado—that is, a feminism that is a thinking of and a political experimenting with multiplicity. I am joining the other trajectory, post-workerism, essentially at the level of the developments that have resulted from the contributions of Maurizio Lazzarato, Christian Marazzi, Yann Moulier Boutang, Antonio Negri and Carlo Vercellone over the past dozen years—their effort to rethink labor, social cooperation, the wage and income today. Despite the different paths followed by these authors, their analyses converge on one essential point: what is emerging from the metamorphoses of capitalism is a new relationship between capital and life, which Christian Marazzi calls "the biopolitical turn of the economy." Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri speak of "biopolitical labor," meaning labor that produces not "just material goods but social life itself." Knowledge, know-how, language and affect are the fundamental stakes in production today, and they imply a new nature of labor within a capitalism with a "feminine" face, for capital's hold is now being exercised over the sphere of reproduction historically "reserved" for women. By inscribing myself in a somewhat critical (and self-critical) perspective, I seek to extend the displacement of binary categories that feminism has brought about, particularly the displacement of the categories of production and reproduction. Consequently, I want to ask the following questions: Can the category of labor as developed since Marx encompass all the forms that human activity can take? Can the category of living labor still resist once the divisions that subtend it—body/mind, culture/nature, man/woman—are called into question? Is the separation between living labor and dead labor pertinent, or has the infinite extension of living labor, the displacement of binary divisions such as living labor/dead labor or productive labor/unproductive labor, instead reached the point where it has become quite unstable, and as a result, inoperative? I will explore this vast worksite by following a little path that is as surprising as the one that links its two figures: the lesbian and the intermittent worker or the "non-jobless unemployed" [non chômeur-non employé]. What does "feminist" mean? "Feminist" is formed with the word femme—woman—and means: someone who fights for women. For many of us it means someone who fights for women as a class and for the disappearance of this class. For many others it means someone who fights for woman and her defense—for the myth, then, and its reinforcement. From the perspective opened up by Monique Wittig, women can become a class only by destroying a myth—the myth of woman. The disappearance of the class (of women) occurs through the destabilization of heterosexuality as a political regime, as a social system of oppression "that produces the doctrine of the difference between the sexes to justify this oppression" (ibid., 20). Conceiving heterosexuality as a political regime allows us to escape from the dialectic of the sexes: female and male are products of the same mechanism of power, to which women are no more external than...
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Although language allows boundless freedom, we are at the same time confined within a linguistic structure that first demands that we are assigned a sex and a gender and consequently restricts us to two existing categories; that is, to the categories of male or female. Gender in language therefore forces every individual to mark in its speech to which gender category it belongs. If we are neither women nor men, then how can we understand our existence through language? What is the relation between the binary system of gender (man/woman) and language? How is the relationship between body, language, subjectivity and politics articulated nowadays? In addition, how can we be constituted as political subjects in spite of our non-defining identity? This article considers the questions of deconstruction of the binary man/woman system in relation to the further, possible and common struggle against global capitalism, coloniality and heteropatriarchy. Author(s): Tjaša Kancler Title (English): Tongue Untied, Tongue with Tongue. Mining the Binary Matrix Journal Reference: Identities: Journal for Politics, Gender and Culture, Vol. 10, No. 1-2 (Summer-Winter 2013) Publisher: Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities – Skopje Page Range: 14-19 Page Count: 6 Citation (English): Tjaša Kancler, “Tongue Untied, Tongue with Tongue. Mining the Binary Matrix,” Identities: Journal for Politics, Gender and Culture, Vol. 10, No. 1-2 (Summer-Winter 2013): 14-19.
There is an important history often neglected by genealogies of ‘critical whiteness studies’: Steve Biko's Black Consciousness critique of white liberalism. What would it mean to retrieve this criticism in the context of white anti-racism in the post-apartheid era? Said's (2003) contrapuntal method proves useful here as a juxtaposing device whereby the writings of a past figure can be critically harnessed, travelling across temporal and ideological boundaries to interrogate the present. Four interlinked modes of disingenuous white anti-racism can thus be identified: (1) a fetishistic preoccupation with disproving one's racism; (2) ostentatious forms of anti-racism that function as means of self-promotion, as paradoxical means of white self-love; (3) the consolidation and extension of agency through redemptive gestures of ‘heroic white anti-racism’; (4) ‘charitable anti-racism’ which fixes tolerance within a model of charity, as an act of generosity and that reiterates the status and role of an anti-racist benefactor.