As the next question, we would like to talk about the role of role self-organization and collaboration in your artistic work. How has this approach of collaboration and self-organization changed for you over the years?
Emma Hedditch: I mean, this term of organizing also relates to the notion that you should leave the context, or that you have to find things outside of what you feel and experience, being the direct surroundings and context in which you live in. So for me, the notion of self-organizing came directly from this sense of need and that was so impossible to work with in the given context or what was available at the institutions […]. And so together we, different friends, artists, activists, decided to declare that we open certain spaces for us to meet and talk in. For example, I worked with the Copenhagen Free University of 2001 and 2008, I’ve worked with Cinenova since the late 1990s, and I worked with the Lambeth Women’s project also from the late 1990s until 2006. So these spaces were for me an education for myself where I was gaining access to materials that I couldn’t find in other places […]. The Free University was a way to think about the kind of knowledge production I wanted to be involved in and in relation to what was happening in educational institutions at the time and this continues today. So they were maybe responses and reactions to something that I thought I needed and lacked. This also connects to this public space question, so to make spaces that you feel you can trust where you can have discussions that would be perhaps problematic in other spaces.
Klub Zwei/Jo Schmeiser: I have to go back a bit to talk about collaboration. When I think about when I studied at university, the reason to collaborate was that I and some other people had the feeling that the way in which we were working or thinking had no space to be seen in the art field. So we founded a newspaper; and we wanted not only to show what we were thinking or doing, but also to have a critical discourse on that. So we organized a newspaper that was called Before Information Magazine. We didn’t want to have a gallery space, we thought that the gallery space was dead and nothing interesting was happening there. And then we started to talk a lot about political issues. At that time, in the 1990s, a lot of people also started to collaborate with groups outside of the art field. Simone [Bader] and I, we had done a lot of work on issues like asylum, refuge, migration without it being called this at that time. And I think the newspaper project and the people involved in it changed our whole idea of collaborating. We discussed the idea of egalitarian collaborations and also the question of whether it is possible to have a collaboration that is egalitarian if we live in a society that is not. So how can we establish a way of working together, of negotiating differences between us, negotiating our own positions? And I think that the debate of these questions has changed a lot. At the beginning, for me, collaboration was like: “Oh it’s nice to work together and we are all equal; we have similar ideas and we can have an exchange.” But there was no thinking about discrimination and asymmetries yet. And I believe this has been developing more and more. I don’t know where it will go. Now I am at the point where I think: Yes, we have been talking about the negotiation of differences a lot and we still need to do that. But we also need to do it in a way that doesn’t fix and close our positions. Because then they stand side by side and we can only talk about them in binary logics we can talk about appropriation or non-appropriation, good or bad … But I think, what we have to do is break these dichotomies down without saying they do not exist. Because they do, even if we don’t want them to.
Marina Gržinić: So maybe I will also look back in history. I worked with Aina Šmid but also with other people in 1982. It was thirty-one years until now and I’m saying this because the context in which I started to work was socialism. I think this is an important thing that cannot just be generalized because it was a different constitution of the space, it was a space – if we talk about the artistic practice – which had no art market, so it was very much connected with questions that were very ideological […], everything was actually politicized, every space, but still the paradoxical thing was that art in itself was not political; it was a very paradoxical situation. So this work that we started in 1982 was very much connected to two topics and they were in a certain way history and sexuality. Because everyone was poor in socialism, but many things were equal for all, for example health [security]. It is very important to be clear on this: we had people who were working, everybody was working in socialism, and we had social security and free education, and this free education was very good, even better than today. But other things like patriarchal structures, heteronormativity and big discrepancies between political discourses and what were actual possibilities, pressed on us heavily. This was really present, this discrepancy between the political elitist talk of the communist party nomenclature and what was actually said to us that we could have and do. Because of this, working as a group was very important for me, […] because we were very much engaged in different processes, and one was definitely the coming out of gays and lesbians. […] So if I go back, and this is for me the most important point, it’s actually this moment when it was a hardcore fight against this patriarchal, chauvinistic but also heteronormative position, which was actually very similar to the West. It was quite an interesting situation because the social space was actually a space that I would call “egalitarian misery,” but we had social security, we had health security and people could work. My mother and father were both working, because to work you actually socialized your positions in a certain way. You are not privatized at home as female, for example, but you work, you have a certain process, which is quite an important thing. So for me this was one of the interesting points, that we could connect to each other and do a lot of collaborations. So we have worked together now for thirty-one years, with many other people and in many situations. […]