Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Vienna: Queer Feminist Days

Flyer for Queer Feminist Days Vienna; photo by Val Phoenix10-14 September 2008

This week sees Vienna's inaugural Queer Feminist Days taking over the city for workshops, discussions and actions.

It's an opportunity for the city to shake off its slightly fusty image and put itself at the heart of queer feminist activism. It also provides a platform for the budding queeer feminist music scene to take centre-stage.

Since Vienna's first Ladyfest in 2004, there has been an upsurge in female bands and performers. Says Fiber magazine's Angela Tiefenthaler, "People are recognising we have a scene here, so there's something going on."

Acts associated with the queer feminist scene include: Bonanza Jellybean, First Fatal Kiss, Ilsebill, Norah Noizzze, Palslut, Freie Radikale, Dandies and Darlings, Clara Luzia, Petra und der Wolf, Spoenk, Gustav and Zum Beispiel. While not working in one musical style, they share a certain political and gender awareness, as well as a fanbase.

Iris Hajicsek, also known as Norah Noizzze, explains, "We don't want to have all these boys playing guitars and posing and singing in bands. We want to form different bands which work on a different basis."

As one of the Queer Feminist Days organisers, Hajicsek draws distinctions between QFD and earlier feminist events in the city, such as Ladyfest and RampenFiber. "Ladyfest is more around music and pop culture and Queer Feminist Days are more about thinking about academic contexts." This seems to translate as more discussion, less music.

But there is still a programme of cultural activities, including gigs and parties, in order to get people talking and interacting after the day's more intellectual activities. Among the acts are CHRA, Petra und der Wolf and Frei Radikale Reduced.

Vienna often takes the lead from Berlin, its trend-setting neighbour to the north, with both Ladyfest and QFD inspired by similar events in Germany. Many of the Vienna bands seem content to operate within the cosy confines of the city's small alternative spaces.

Queer Feminist Days provides an opportunity for the city to stretch its wings and show what it can offer in the way of radical politics and culture. Tiefenthaler goes so far as to claim: "Vienna is the next Berlin."

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