nedelja, 21. marec 2010

Reclaiming the media in Croatia – Talking to Gabriela the editor of

Gabe, ,foto:JK

“I don't watch TV, nor do I read the newspaper”, Gabriela frankly tells me. The reason for her decision is not indifference, but exactly because she cares, she cannot stand what the mainstream press in Croatia has to offer her. Freedom of speech is a myth. This Frustration brought a couple of feminist women in Croatia together, one of them being Gabriela Ivanov, to initiate the platform for alternative media coverage focusing on topics of emancipation, women rights and queer spaces.

“Cunterview?” Jasmina sitting next to us notices my puzzled face: “You know, the view from a cunt”, underlying it with explaining gestures. “Ah, yeah”, I say and look it up on wikipedia afterwards: “Cunt a vulgarism referring to the vulva.” “Many people I am working with don’t even know what the word means” I am relieved not to be the only one. Gabriela was inspired by the book of Inga Muscio “Cunt: the Deceleration of independence”, which reclaims the word cunt and reappropriates it removing the negative connotation. As the press in Croatia is very much dominated by commercial yellow press everything female is limited to bodies and sexualized representations, basically reduced to being cunts. The name cunterview ironically reverses the meaning ascribed to femininity and contrasts it with something else: “women who are not typical, not just make up, not just stupid, not just celebrities, not just naked women.” This stereotypical image is supposed to be subverted through the texts, films, and podcasts produced by cunterview. “Things which are actually common sense” at least for Gabriela, who thinks of the platform as something which is able to empower women that their desires and needs are to be spoken out loud and to be approached.

Cunterview first appeared in 2007 without any funding. The big motivation from the beginning slowly deteriorated and the whole Croatian network was becoming a little weak as everything was still based on voluntary work. Many donators did not understand the sense of supporting this kind of platform. To sustain the work of cunterview the NGO Common Zone – Expansion of gender and media culture was founded. From than on more and more women became involved and tried to adress their issues.

Art, Media and Women are the key words, which will lead an internet user through google to cunterview. Their contents are news, databases of female artists, information about different collectives . And in a lot of cases they ironically profit from the rigidness of croatian media censorship. Those journalists affected, are glad to be able to publish their texts on cunterview.

Gabriela comes to the Red Dawns Festival already for the 5th time. This time she is enhancing the festival with her knowledge about web publishing. While we talk, complex mind maps are evolving on her notes, drawing lines from one key aspect to another, just like in her everyday life: spinning the thread, connecting and bring women together. “I want women to collaborate.” Often women still are marginalized, especially in the creative field. From Gabrielas impression they would rather claim their art to be their hobby, used for recreation from work or household duties. A Strong network is supposed to empower them and inspire women to collaborate and to support each other, with the goal to make them economically independent.

While I am writing down my notes she keeps on networking: “Yes we can see if we can do this homepage, it is all a question of arrangement…”

Mirjam Baumert

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