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Video-pool: Rosa Reitsamer
Female Consequences: an ongoing video collection

Everyone of us, a group of four women, gave two euros for the tapes and we started producing the video. After recording, we cut it together on the computer. It was a kind of collective process and it was easy in terms of money because it didn’t cost much. The process of making was an interesting experience and it was kind of an empowering process. We could produce the context we wanted it.

This quotation is part of a longer conversation with a friend in Vienna about video as a means for empowering women/lesbian/queer producers. If we understand the development of video as a new technology that became cheaper in the recent years and therefore affordable enough to be used in everyday life but also for artistic production, there is hardly any doubt: videos can be a tool for empowering people to take a position is society that offers slightly more possibilities for (political) action. Taking the video camera to record situations in every day life — discussions with our friends and families, political demonstrations, personal statements or simply to watch other people while walking in the street — or to produce an art work, videos seems to relocate the line between producer and consumer, between artistic and amateuristic engagement, between ‘high art’ and ‘low culture’.

People who are marginalised in society because of their economic situation, their gender, background or skin colour have to deal with certain individual and structural forms of discrimination that limit their access to education such as art schools and to job markets.

For these groups, video could be a means for self-empowerment since, as the initial quotation stated, the equipment is not very expensive, nor is video connected to a the traditions of art history bound up with the idea of the white male genius. The development of technologies such as video, computers for the mass-market seems to democratise access to means of production. But does it solve the mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion that are one of the central core of the traditional art market?

Although video might provide easier access to means of production and might erode certain borders, the question if, when and how a video work from marginalised individuals and groups will be exhibited remains. Here, the idea that technological innovations could overstep various forms of discrimination in society needs to be questioned.

For my ongoing video collection Female Consequences, I invited people living in different parts of the world to contribute their video works. Up to the present, the result is diverse, but to a certain extent, the video works deal with issues of identity and sexuality form their specific situatedness in society, with forms of empowerment that transgress heteronormativity, femininity and beauty.

Pop music plays a crucial role in every day life, not only in the years of one’s adolescence, but also for (some) adults. It offers a surface for any kind of projection such as freedom, resistance, loneliness or love. Playing in a punk rock group such as the band Incest is certainly a way of empowerment for women in a post communist country like Armenia. The video Incest Rock ’Npak is a documentation of their concert at the Festival of New Rock Bands in Armenia in 2003. The video shows the slightly irritated audience watching the women playing guitars and singing.

Lonely Time by Tatev Mnoyan also deals with music, but from a different perspective. While Incest Rock ’Npak documents the band playing, Lonely Time focuses on the position of a female fan. The video starts with a recording of Led Zeppelin playing the famous song Rock’n’Roll. While Robert Plant sings "It’s been a long time since I rock and rolled," a teenager with long bond and curly hair starts dancing to the music in her room. She is alone, maybe lonely, but definitely she is enjoying herself.

For many teenagers these activities slowly fade away when they grow up for being ‘serious adults’. Another activity (or the desire for it) which comes out from the teenage years is driving around on a motorcycle. Mikki Muhr and Ines Doujak, in their video Candy, deal with this specific leisure activity in an artificial but playful way.

A pleasure that we all follow in a more or less secret way is watching other people. Anca Daucikova takes up this habit for her video Piano Trio in B Flat. The camera is focusing a woman and two men on a square situated between the river and the motorway. Empty bottles, plastic bags, a wheel chair and clothes are lying around. The slow movements of the three adults comes to a standstill when the shirtless man wants to take off his trousers, he falls down and remains lying of the floor, or when the woman is staring at the water. It must be Sunday morning after a party, where the cleaning up takes place very slowly.

Another topic that is connected with voyeurism is dancing. In Tsomak’s untitled video we see a striptease dancer in an erotic outfit with stockings and high heels. Her movements embody all attributes of a sexy woman in a heteronormative society. At the same time we see a naked woman with short hair dancing but certainly not like a striptease dancer, rather like a child that is enjoying herself being naked while jumping around. In a sublime way she counteracta the well-rehearsed movements of the striptease dancer.

Taking about voyeurism in video immediately brings up the issues of identity and representation: who is looking at whom, from which position are among of the most important but also most controversial questions is feminist theory and practice. James Tsang discusses these questions in his experimental narrative video Hospitality while he wants to find out the so called origin of a political subject. The video comprises of a series of conversations that occurred in Milan, Italy, during the summer of 2005.

From a different standpoint and situatedness in society, Jamika Ajalon also deals with questions of identity. In her video Transnarratives: Graz she explores the Black female subjectivity relating to the urban landscape of the 21st century Europe. Ajalon acts as a ‘meta-reflexive anthropologist’ who is collecting data, recording observations and processing them along the lines of politics and poetics of subjectivity. In the video we see what Ajalon sees cycling around Graz holding a video camera on her shoulder.

How memory and experiences shape our representation is the topic of Emily Roysdon’s video Social Movement. By simultaneously creating and performing the stage through slow repetitious gestures, the actors are preparing the document of presence as well the moment of our persistence. The interplay between pleasure and pain, stability and movement is played out in the body’s desire for stability.

Similar to Emily Roysdon’s piece the people in the video Eastern House by Marina Grzinic and Aina Smid are acting out a script written by Marina Grzinic. The text is a political intervention in the field of theory regarding the question of global capitalism and the radical position of technology in the cyberworld with a clear reference to a cyberfeminst attitude and positioning. In this respect the question of sex and empathy in the cyberworld is raised as well as the ethical and political questioning of cloning and hybrid identities. One of the key moments in the video is the re-reading of the Bush’s war against Iraq, 2003.

Radana Valúchová and Monika Kováèová’s BBB and ZZZ come back to the questions of identity and subjectivity, this time explored by two young women in the context of foreign cities (Berlin and Zagreb respectively), and shaped by the emotional appropriation of pop music.

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Incest/ /
Rock ‘NPAK, 5:08, 2003, Armenia (Armenian)

/Tsomak /
No title, 4:00, 2004, Armenia (No text)

/Anca Daucikova/
Piano Trio in B Flat, 4:00, 2005, Slovakia (No text)

/Mikki Muhr/Ines Doujak
Candy, 6:30, 1995, Austria (English)

/Radana Valúchová/Monika Kováèová
BBB, 4:31, 2004, Germany/Slovakia (Slovakian)
A visit to Berlin.

/Marina Grzinic/Aina Smid
Eastern House, 17:48, 2003, Slovenia (Slovenian ST English)

/Radana Valúchová/Monika Kováèová
ZZZ, 2:19, 2004, Serbia/Slovakia (No text)
A visit to Zagreb.

/Emily Roysdon/
Social Movement, 7:33, 2004–5, USA (No sound)

/Tatev Mnoyan/
Lonely Time, 3:52, 2006, Armenia (English)

/James Pei-Mun Tsang/
Hospitality, 14:26, 2006, Italy (English/Italian ST)

/Jamika Ajalon/
Transnarratives: Graz, 16:56, 2003, Austria (English)

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