sobota, 08. marec 2008

Zoe Gudović - Women at Work

You are part of Women at Work (Žene na delu), organizing courses for feminist activists, who deal with women helping women victims of violence. Why did you decide to do this?

Tree years ago happened, that during one year tree of the women activists helping the victims died of cancer. We realized that they also need psychological help, because they are exposed to many negative things in their work. We decided to think about prevention, how to protect yourself not to burn out completely. We did research among these women, if they knew about burn-out syndrome, and we realized, that they don’t know what to do, how to protect themselves, that’s why we decided to focus on it.

How do the courses look like?

We involve female artists, who professionally give courses, how to use art techniques and different art media to protect yourselves. Women are for example learning how to use the space, they are acting, working with images, creating the masks... They also work with voice, learning how to be visible, realizing we have right to use our voice.

Why do you organize exactly this kind of courses involving art therapy?

It is important to use creativity. In this kind of social work you don’t have so much space for creativity. Creativity is another level, this way they can be open. They learn techniques how to solve the situation. We are teaching the women, that even when we are strong enough, we have to take care of ourselves and only then to help others. For this we need to be open and learn new techniques and things and this can help us to change our position.

You also organize street performances about violence against women.

We do it already 5 years it in the occasion of international activity 16 days of activism about violence against women. We use theater as a tool to present social issue. It is good way of communication with people, because they actually never see this kind of issue addressed in this way. We present real situations through the theater play. Our group involves 10 activists and artists. I always ask a female director from the academy to direct our play. This is also the way how to inspire the professionals to change their mind and start to think about their work in an activist perspective.

In what public places do you play?

It is diverse, it could be open markets, squares, in front of police stations, in front of a court. We usually choose the place according to the issue. Working in the street is controversial – you never know what happens. At the beginning police did not want to protect us, now they have to, because they want to look democratic.

What kind of reactions did you get?

Sometimes we had violent reactions from men watching, they were attacking us verbally. For example they were shouting, that women must be beaten, it is their role. At the other hand many women came to us after the performance and ask about more information. We provide them with leaflets with contacts for help lines. We know that some of the women came to the police and said that they don’t want to die like they saw in the performance. Many people are feeling touched and they are crying. We want to be personal for everybody, we always show different age, statuses, race, everything who we actually are, we think about the whole society.

What is your opinion of the connection of art and activism?

I am doing theater for a long time. When I started to be involved in feminism I realized, that feminism does not give you many opportunities to use you body and voice, more time we usually spend with theory. For me it is important to make ourselves strong, not to be just quiet, mild and not loud. We should not forget we are strong women beings. This is a motivation to involve more art in feminism and also introduce feminism to the artists. Using different techniques of art is a better way how to communicate with people. They better start to think, when they see something.

More informaion about projects of Žene na delu in Serbian you can find online here:

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