with Kristina Malbasic
Raw Matters Special
Schikaneder, Vienna

Observing the relation of the abstract text of female poetry as an expression of female subjectivity and female weaving as a woman’s manual work and material creative expression in the context of the topic of foreign workers, the so-called gastarbajterice.

The theme in correlation with cultural, historical and social context:

In 1966, the Agreement between the former Yugoslavia and the Republic of Austria was signed on the arrival of the Yugoslav labor force on temporary work in Austria. By 1972, there were already about 100,000 Yugoslav workers in Austria. Men were mostly doing heavy construction jobs while women worked in various factories, and very often in the textile industry. Textile, and especially wool, has a special meaning in the culture of the former Yugoslavia. Women from rural areas themselves wove their traditional clothes that differed from village to village and thus formed part of their identity. Since knitting, weaving, and crochet were seen as the primary female activity, men did not often come in the same area. Because of that, knitting socks, weaving shirt, and crocheting tablecloths have a special social meaning, since this was mostly done in women’s groups in the afternoons and evenings when all the other jobs were already done.

As Audrey Lourde says, poetry is the “working class form”. It’s cheap because it takes up little space on paper and a bit of time compared to the novel or general prose. Poetry has long been regarded as a literary form underneath prose. It’s the “woman” form. Poetry, above all, has revolutionary potential. Salvador Allende said: “There is no revolution without a song!” The poetry collection, which is included, was written by the poet Marija Perić Bilobrk, the daughter of the Yugoslavian Gastarbeiter, and critically and directly approaches the topics of female identity, nostalgia, and otherness in the context of Yugoslav Gastarbeiter. Also, the author is a close relative of one of the performers. This blood relationship is interesting from the feminine point of view where the daughters learn “women” textile work from mothers and other female relatives. In this every day, often rural, moment women would knit, crochet, do embroidery in the evening. Girls would learn from their mothers, and grandmother’s textile techniques, but also tell stories, exchange experiences, and secrets. That’s where the revolution is nourished!

Video @Raw Matters