m1 (turm4)
 
Monday, 26. September 2005


Hopefully a political feeling.


Political networking, autonomous feminist spaces – a Interview with Emma Hedditch.

Emma Hedditch is an artist living in London. Her work activates a commitment to feminist politics, democratic media and a genuinely collaborative and collective practice. Emma will be in Vienna during one week from 4th to 10th October, organising a workshop with the title „ The context is the content, let's meet there!“

You founded the independent video distribution network “and I will do (anything to get girls into my bedroom)“, to which you invite „any women who has ever made a video, whether it is an artist, or something she does for her job, as a mother, any women” to contribute to it. How did it start? What is the background and idea behind this project and how does it work?

When I was 21 I came to work at Cinenova, a women’s film and video distribution library in London. I was working as a volunteer. One day I noticed a poster on the noticeboard for „Big Miss Moviola“ which was a video distribution project run by Miranda July at the time. I wrote to Miranda and asked if I could contribute and if she could send a tape. She did, and we started corresponding. It wasn’t until years later when I met Miranda, in 2000 I think that it occurred to me that I could start something here in Europe as a sister project. Miranda and I discussed it and so I started „And I will do“. I had also been running a smaller exhibition type project in my bedroom in my flat at the time, and would invite women to make work there each month, but when I moved out that turned into the video project, something more temporary and mobile.
The idea of the project was to get 10 women to send tapes with a video on that they want to share with 9 other women and put those videos on one tape and send it to the 10 women.

You have been engaged in a lot of different collective projects like „Women in black“, an international women´s peace group or the „Lambeth Women's projec“t, a centre for women of all ages. Once a month you organise a sewing circle in a cafe together with friends. What is happening at the sewing circle and what is the idea behind the approach of establishing this meeting places?

I like many women joined some WIB vigils in protest against sanctions in Iraq and during the attacks made by our countries on Afghanistan in 2001. Prior to that I knew some of the women from a teach-in organised around Feminist anti-militarism, broadly speaking. Many of the women were at Greenham common in the 1980’s and I have always admired these women. Some of the women from the group started to attend some of the projects I was involved in, there is a slow cross fertilisation, these things take time.
The Lambeth Women’s project is an autonomous women’s centre that I became involved with about 6 years ago, it is a 3 storey house, between Stockwell and Brixton in south London. A committee runs the building. Several women’s groups use it, for meetings and as offices, some refugee groups. Young women meet on Tuesday evenings for DJ workshops and music classes, and there are some health and fitness projects. I help with computer stuff and try to help with administration. I started the Sewing Circle with two friends Mystique and Nuaego, we all live in the same area, Brixton, and wanted to make a women only event in the café of the local cinema, so we did. We called it the Sewing Circle, because this name has historically been given to meetings of groups of women under the guise of sewing, when they are actually meeting for more subversive aims.
I have been interested in how women only groups operate, and how they are structurally, and how to question their visibility and representing these situations. Places like the Sewing circle brought together a lot of different women, different generations etc, and it was quite social, we listened to music and watched films
And there was a certain amount of knitting and sewing going on.

Your work is providing infrastructure and space for research, distribution and discussion of feminist political ideas but also “enacting ideas of feminist politics, exploring records and traces of it`s presence within a local community.” What are you interested to find/ trace and to work on in Vienna?

I hope we can actualise and reflect on the process of actualising some exchanges between institutions in the city and individuals who are part of those institutions and those who are not or don’t feel part, or don’t want to be part. So it is not in the outcome but in the process of exploring what this field is, what are the different strategies that are taking place, and what strategies we can use to open out some of the more rigid forms, and behaviours.

You just recently organised „A political feeling, I hope so“, a „social situation“ which took place at Cubitt Gallery in London. For three days the gallery became a feminist autonomous place in your own terms. Why is it important to you to invent these autonomous spaces?

I am part of a large network of people who try to make projects, whether it be music, or visual arts, theoretical investigations, political activism, structuring home life and raising a family, film and video making, health issues etc. There is often the question of space and finding somewhere to meet and discuss, put on events, have information etc. I know at least 3 autonomous centres in London, but for a city this size there is always room for more. I tried to actualise this imagined place, it was not really established, but for 3 days it did function, and within the small gallery we held meetings, screenings, played live music and exchanged information. It was important within an art context to pluralise the idea of production, and show that so much is already happening, and just with the people I know, I found that we could bring material and ideas together in a radical way. There was very little reflection of theory, but there was some references to Hannah Arendt and her questions about ‘action’.

Imagine a utopian space from the scratch, a space with its own structure and internal principles of arrangement and order in favour of disorder in society, a heterotopia as a real utopian space in society. How would it look like?

I don’t want to imagine it, I refuse, since I don’t believe in things from scratch that feels like I would have to obliterate what exists already and how can one conceive of obliteration. I believe in working with what is here, in and with all the shit.

Interview: Eva Egermann



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