Cuntstunt: Here we are!
from Vienna, Austria
Cuntstunt is a new grrrl zine from Vienna, Austria. elke, eva and esther just published their first issue and are currently working on their second. you can download their first one as pdf file (mostly in English, some in German). Enjoy the interview!
El : I am 25 and since 1999 in Vienna.
Ev : I am 27, born in Graz, living in Vienna since 1997.
Es: I am 25. Living in Vienna since 1999.
What do you do besides your zine?
El : I finished art university this June and now I am a little bit plan less, I mean I do not really have an idea how someone can survive being an artist without doing several other jobs and I guess I fell in this programmed after diploma hole.
I did this project “Working On Fire” together with Esther and we would really like to go on tour with it, thaha, but we do not know how to get started in the arty farty world.
EV: Right now I am a musician.
What is your zine cuntstunt about? What topics do you discuss most often?
Ev : It is about day-to-day struggle in a world full of chauvinistic rules and structures; we try to create strategies not to be corrupted, but to survive.
When we meet each other we talk about our working-conditions, visions for the future and about books we‚ve read recently, books we want to read…; so many texts printed in cuntstunt were read recently by one of us three.
For how long have you been running your zine now? How did the three of you join to make that zine?
El : We did the first and until now only issue of cuntstunt in june 2003 which is quite a long time ago… but we hope that we will be able to tinker together cuntstunt issue 2 this summer. We met at art university in 1999 and in 2002 we were all more or less into feminism looking for a format to exchange stuff and thoughts, music and drawings.
What made you decide to start this project? How did you come up with the idea and the name?
Es : The three of us are artists. Some years ago we started to work together on different projects. Our theoretical focus was on women issues and more general we have been interested in the field of cultural political issues.
Probably I should explain that we have been (or still are) students but we have never been excited about going to lectures. So we used the time to learn the stuff we wanted to learn - by ourselves.
(Questioning what a university could look like or should be in our imagination two of us are now part of the manoafreeuniversity. http://manoafreeuniversity.org)
At some point we were looking for possible forms of expression, which fits to the stuff, we are interested in.
We read several texts about the history of women and were fascinated by the riot grrrl movement. In this context zines seemed to be a strong tool to express personal attitudes, thoughts, activism, through texts, pictures, poems, songtexts, performances… And “Lips, tits, hits and power” was the book, which set us on fire. Actually a handwritten text about doing zines was so strong - in combination with all the stuff we found out - that we had to do a zine. (We put a picture of this text on the last site of cunstunt, as precis.)
So we made something like a wild tickled feminist handapparat - a book to bring the texts (the source texts of the research) all together in one and a basis for discussions and to get in contact with others who are interested in similar issues.
We tried to find a name, which could somehow assume what the zine is about.
After a time of brainstorms cuntstunt crossed our minds and it is still this name which has the power to express what, we and our zine is about: activism through performances based on the conflict of categorizing people on gender, race and class.
What was your first exposure to zines? How did you find out about them?
Es : We have been searching for feminist zines in Vienna and we found a lot of interesting stuff like the Nylon now Fiber, Anschlaege, Malmoe, and for historical stuff we explored the Stichwort archive (www.stichwort.or.at) which is a great place. But I would not really classify this papers as zines they are more professional magazines, not really high gloss but they have a editorial department and let produce in the print plant not in the copy shop.
What do you hope to accomplish by making and distributing your zine?
Ev : Well, I guess there is no masterplan.
We feel the need to communicate things that annoy us.
Not only to have an emotional output (I think the graphics/ drawings and photos are the most direct way to express an emotion in this zine) but also to force an intellectual exchange, to learn about feminist theory, to educate each other.
so i guess our strategy is to develop ourselves and to share this process with other people.
What do you love and find challenging about zine making?
El : I love the production phase where the zine becomes physical, the sit together to fold phase. To me this is always a very welcome variation to my usual working experience in front of the computer. While folding you can talk to each other.
And I love the zine for being a medium for stuff, drawings and collages which get usually lost in some drawers, paper piles or hard disks. Actually that’s a really important thing for me, to bring stuff I collected or produced by myself back on paper, to kind of rescue nice data from get forgotten in the depth of my hard disks.
Ev : For me it is not challenging. That*s the thing I like about zine making.
It’s not about proving that I am a good writer, or a good painter or photographer, the output doesn’t have to be a perfect high-end product, it’s more a sketchbook, full of raw-material, found footage, theory-pieces which can be used (by the readers) or get lost.
El: The only zine I read more or less regularly is Viennese and called “butter”.
When I started to get interested in zines I surfed a lot to find out about other zines but the desire to really get other grrrlzines in my analog mailbox always stranded at the long winded procedures to order it, to send the money in an envelope and so on. I guess we are, or I am a spoiled credit card online shopper. Stupid, I know.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start a zine?
Ev : The good thing about making zines is that there is no advice necessary;
Because there are no rules to follow, just do it the way you want to.
I am very interested in grrrl zines in different countries. Could you please describe a little bit the (grrrl) zine community or network in Austria, or in Europe in general? Who are some of the most active participants and do you stand in contact with them?
El: Hm. As I said above, the only Viennese zine I know is “butter” which is not really a grrrlzine I guess…
Do you consider grrrl and genderqueer zines as an important part of a social movement? Do you think grrrl, lady, queer and transfolk zines, resource sites, and projects can effect meaningful social and political change at large - or do they have significance mainly in individual lives?
Ev: I think you can only reach people with your work, who are in the same or in a related ideologic thing. So i guess the main aim is to confirm and mabye to say, here we are! This is what i/ we think, this is what i/ we want to change, this is what i/ we want to be, this are the problebms i/ we have, we / or I’am not invisible .
It will not change anyones opinion or effect a big change on anyones live but it can be part of a creation of political awareness, or mabye an affirmation - like it was for me.
I think you are the sum of all the people, thoughts and things you are surroundet by; and the way you live and articulate may inspire other peoples lives …
What were some of main influences that have empowered you in your life? Is zine making maybe one of them?
Ev : Definitely.
What role does the Internet play for you in relation to your zine?
Es : We thought that it is important to have a printed zine. But it is also crucial for us to be visible in a wider sense, a knot in the net, to have the possibility to get connected over a physical distance.
We use our space for a radio stream and to give the possibility to download the zine, and the most important thing is that we are linked to a lot of different other sites and projects which are dealing with similar issues, to define the context.
cuntstunt.net is also the host for websites of related female bands and we also have some photos from our projects on the website.
Do you define yourself as a feminist? What are the most pressing issues you are confronted with in daily life (as a woman/feminist/…)?
El : I think I define myself as a feminist in most situations as kind of re-takeover of the term. Many people think of feminism as needless hysteria. My younger sister for example thinks that it is overstated to be feminist as she thinks that she is not discriminated as a girl in our oh so modern society, and that is bullshit.
Yeah you can make career as a woman in Austria, you can, if you have the money, hand over your reproductive tasks to a migrant woman and stand your business man. Yippie. That is ÖVP (Austrian conservative Christian party) feminism.
But there are a lot of pressing issues I am confronted with in my everyday life, which tell me that our society is still sexist and a big fuck-up.
Es: Sometimes it’s necessary to call myself a feminist, because people understand feminism often in strange way.
A lot of girls, woman, man – whatever u want to be called– do not get an idea about feminism because feminism has a lot of different faces in politics and activism.
I recognized that especially young girls refuse to call themselves feminists.
Most think that they get the same chances like men, but this is only true in an economical context and even then only sometimes.
Probably a white heterosexual woman, with a EU passport can have an equal career, like a man in the EU. This is what matters in society at the moment and this view is pushed by the conservative, capitalistic sector of the Austrian society via advertising, new forms of labor, magazines, TV and the highest number of women in the Austrian government ever.
So for a lot of people it’s not important to struggle for rights, better working conditions, equality of gender - class - race…… because there is no idea what for .
The problem is when women sections of the political parties in Austria use the term feminism or woman rights for their campaigns it’s not enough to say that I am a feminist, I always have to differentiate and to explain what kind of feminism I am into.
And whenever I read or hear the word power woman - as description for a woman with a wage work, who handles the household and her children and cook for her husband, or who, if she earns enough money can employ a maid, who she does not give a contract – so push her out of the social security net – then I wanna puke.
But this is also a propagated face of feminism in our society.
So it always depends also on the person I am talking with if I call myself a feminist.
Ev: Well I’ll try to talk about my personal day-today-experience :
When I’m on stage, backstage, producing music, -I am surrounded by men. Men who organise concerts, who own venues, who are doing the mixing, men who are writing articles about your work. Women are, except in feministic related events, still really an exception. So, this obviously has got significant effect on how the work of an female artist is getting absorbed – as an (fem.) exception.
So i don't agree with Es when she says that a white hetero-EU-passport-woman can have an equal career as a white-eu-passport-man. The career of a woman today is still an exception, which also means that there are still enormous prejudices against women, even against the privileged ones. And so i see it as my duty to point at this problem, to reflect it in my work and to demonstrate solidarity.
Urrrrgh. This sounds really old-fashioned.
But mabye this is what makes me always call myself a feminist.
El: Esther and I were in Bangkok for six months to do interviews with women about their working circumstances. For this we met Anti, an ex garment worker and women workers movement leader and when we asked her if she call herself a feminist she explained that she prefer the term “women rights” because everybody can understand what it stands for whereas feminism is quite difficult to understand. I think that feminism is still a pretty academic term and attitude and that’s a problem.
Es: I don’t see myself as a part of the third wave feminism because I don’t know what it is. I read about it but it’s not so important for me how u call this movement. I am sure it’s crucial for academic people and I think it’s important to have a term to write and discuss about woman history, but I don’t care if it’s called third wave feminism or something else.
Have you been or are you involved in Ladyfest Vienna in some ways? If yes, how and what has been your experience?
El : Esther and I have been involved pretty much in the organization of the first Ladyfest in Vienna which took place in June 2004. Hm. To explore basic democratic organization was exciting and annoying at the same time but the experience of “being many” was really cool (I would prefer to call it “leiwand” but I am afraid there is no English word for).
Es: It was great and boring. It made me angry and super happy and I never felt stronger.
Ev: I was not really involved into organization-work, I just played a soli-concert and was djing on soli-events …
What would a grrrl-friendly society look like in your view? How do you think society might be re-thought and transformed to come closer to an “ideal” world for women, grrrls and queer folks? Do you have any suggestions for the development of women/grrrl/queer-friendly policies?
Es: It’s very difficult to answer this questions. At the moment I am not sure if utopian concepts are ways to solve anything. But anyway there have been some utopian concepts which really gave me the feeling to go on - gave me speed, anger and power to change things, thoughts or attitudes in my life.
So more or less utopian concepts are something like a religion and it makes no sense if I am an atheist – and that’s what I am at the moment.
Ev: I think that the biggest enemy of a grrrl-friendly society is capitalism (and as a main column of it – religion ; )
So the first goal is to overthrow these entities, then we would have the chance to overcome this enormous gender gap, which is mainly caused by economic interests, I think. But how to reach this naïve ideal …pffft.
Maybe we have to create an enormous pool of new role-models, then we’ll go further…
What are some of your personal wishes/visions/ideas/plans for the future, if you like to share them?
El: I would like to have massages financed by the social security fond and a basic-income for everybody with no need to do something in return. Then I could live as an artist without having to work for fucking neoliberal businesses and without having to ask the state in elaborated proposals for money to do my projects.
And: I would like to have a band, become a better soccer player, meet Zinedine Zidane, upgrade my English and read all the books I have.
Es: I want to learn to formulate my thoughts as direct as possible, no matter if I talk to friends, or at a public discussion, or at a radio station. I really want to overcome the problem that I am not able to talk because I don’t feel comfortable with the situation.
And I want to overcome the problem that I am not productive.
Ev: I ‘m watching too much TV. I guess I have to change this.
Contact Cuntstunt at:
All images (used with permission) from the cuntstunt web site.