MisplacedWomen?

Posts Tagged ‘Romania’

Alexandra Tatar’s Story

In Bus-stations, Stories, Telciu on May 22, 2019 at 4:57 pm

I wish the Misplaced Women? Workshop in Telciu (Transylvania, Romania) lasted longer. I wish it would have lasted at least two days longer… 

“Misplaced Women?” Workshop led by Tanja Ostojić in the frame of Telciu Summer School, Romania, 2018. Photo: Manuela Boatcă​

As I was thinking along these lines it made me realise that what I was actually looking for was not more hours to collectively embracement of the topic of displacement, but I was actually rather longing to take part in all the other conversations, the previous Misplaced project workshops as well as the ones to come… The conversations related to getting people started and acknowledging their experiences — this is precisely where the strength of the Misplaced Women? project lays for me. Needless to say, I found many of those conversations, performances and individual contributions to the Projects online platform, which I perceive as an established community, where one can always return to, revisit and share with. Ever since I left Telciu, I carried on the conversations on displacement within myself, re-thinking my previous migration experiences and artistic work — continuing basically the discussions started at the workshop till today. 😊

Tanja Ostojic’s workshop in the frame of Telciu Summer School happened on August 15, 2018. That is an ultra-religious holiday in Romania. (You can get a glimpse of it here). Thinking about the context of Romania — one of the most religious EU member states — made me think about the religious discourse in relation to women’s body as another type of displacement. The elderly women — who interfered with our workshop — coming back to Telciu with the regional evening train was actually returning from the monastery where women crawl on their knees and elbows nine times around the church for the Holy Mary holiday. They say they do that for the sake of forgiveness and having one wish come true. Weather god is more merciful than the EU is debatable, but the chances of getting one wish come true are certainly higher.

“Misplaced Women?” Workshop led by Tanja Ostojić in the frame of Telciu Summer School, Romania, 2018. Photo: Manuela Boatcă​

I’ve been exposed to violence of religious believes upon women body at the course of my first migration experience to Vienna. Coming here to study in 2011, at first I lived with two other Romanian women whom I got to know through migrant friend’s network, and they were able to offer me a room in their apartment. We were basically three independent migrant women living together, at least I thought so. Apparently, I happened to be ‘too independent’, meaning that going out at night and meeting ‘foreign’ men (although: ‘does he have a car?’ they would ask) was too much liberty in the eyes of god, and I was told I have to move out one evening, after only two weeks of living together, on the basis of my ‘lifestyle’, after going out twice. I left the same evening, putting all my belongings in two big garbage bags, and calling the ‘guy which owns a car’. Sometimes I wonder how many trash bags would I need in order to put in all my belongings now…

Besides being a violent experience, it is also a sort of a privilege, I encountered through my migration, that I’m only now able to contextualise better. Being a ‘girl’ from the East in Vienna, brings with itself certain ‘readings’ of oneself… Like for example when I got the ‘residence’ permit based on a written paper which stated that I get a small financial support from my family each month for my studies (‘small’ in Austria, but being a huge sum in Romania; as a matter of fact my family could not afford to cover any of that), the authorities perceived me the same way the bank officers did. The one who issued me a credit card as I looked like a ‘Girl from the East meets men from the West’ story; although my finances would not entitle me for one. She just told me to ‘make sure’ the money is on my account on the date they book it (all that was missing was a wink). Of course, I needed a credit card, becoming a part in the cycle of ‘permanent debt’ that maintaining of a certain way of visibility requires. It was actually easier to get a credit card then a health insurance, as I actually needed to pay for the latter, and this was not possible in the first years of my stay. 

The first travels between Austria and Romania, after moving here, I did by bus. The travel was 10-11 hour, all night long. One had to change a bus at midnight in Budapest. And the bus going to Romania would actually stop behind the bus station, and one was supposed to wait for the bus (which would hopefully come) on a dark street corner. I remember one time right there, a young foreign student was waiting for another bus which was to bring his girlfriend from Poland to Budapest and was getting pretty anxious as the bus was late. He asked if he could use my phone to call his girlfriend. And although I understood his concerns, I was unable to borrow my phone, as I was travelling without any money (what my Austrian boyfriend never understood, as he could not grasp the concept of not having money after paying for a ticket), and the little credit I had on the phone was my only safe net in case something went wrong. I have often thought about those precarious times, and now after the workshop and seeing the Misplaced project performances at bus stops, and the solidarity between migrants, I thought of weather I was a selfish person, deciding I was not being able to help, prioritising myself that time. Both buses (the one bringing his girlfriend and the one taking me to Romania) arrived shortly after, but the question stayed open with me until this day.

Theas are my thoughts after the workshop, that I am very grateful to have taken part in, and it will definitely inform my thinking and artistic practice to come. I think marking displacement experiences by performing them, writing about them, telling about them, let us not forget nor ignore, and more importantly enable us to understand, acknowledge and act in solidarity. 

Text by Alexandra Tatar

Edited and first published by Tanja Ostojic 2018/19 on the Misplaced Women? blog

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Alexandra Tatar is an artist born in Romania, currently living in Vienna. She is a PhD candidate at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, on the topic of post-soviet subjectivities. She received MA in Visual Arts from the same faculty in 2016 with MA thesis: The [physical] [impossibility] of [women] in the [world] of [someone] [living] with Ashley Hans Scheirl. In her art practice she explores communicational codes and conventions of mainstream culture and their influence on the construction of imagery and identities.

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The “Misplaced Women?” Workshop led by Tanja Ostojić took place on August 15, 2018, in the frame of Telciu Summer School, in Telciu, Romania. Workshop participants included: Manuela Boatcă, Laura Covaci, Iulia Dinescu, Veronica Enusca, Iulia Ilie, Adina Marinescu, Alina Marincea, Simion Septimiu Mihai, Alise Monica Marinescu, Bogdan Popa, Veda Popovici, Alexandra Tatar.  

Please visit this link to experience More about the Telciu itinerary of the workshop:

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Telciu Summer School

In Telciu, Train stations, Workshops on May 22, 2019 at 4:13 pm

The “Misplaced Women?” Workshop Telciu itinerary led by Tanja Ostojić took place on August 15, 2018, in the frame of Telciu Summer School, in Romania. 

Workshop participants included: Manuela Boatcă, Laura Covaci, Iulia Dinescu, Veronica Enusca, Iulia Ilie, Adina Marinescu, Alina Marincea, Simion Septimiu Mihai, Alise Monica Marinescu, Bogdan Popa, Veda Popovici, Alexandra Tatar between others.

Misplaced Women? Workshop led by Tanja Ostojić on August 15, 2018, in the frame of Telciu Summer School, Romania

Please visit this link to see the contribution of one of the workshop’s participants: Alexandra Tatar’s Story

This page is currently in development. More information, documentation, reflections and visuals are still to come…

Video: Ana Maria Ang

Workshop Coordination: Ágota Ábrán

Misplaced Women? Contribution by LADY GABY in Berlin-Weißensee

In Berlin, Stories, Workshops on December 27, 2018 at 11:31 pm

In the frame of Tanja Ostojić´s Misplaced Women? workshop, January 22–24, 2018, hosted by Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz and Kunsthochschule Berlin Weißensee, the following performance interventions have been developed and performed for the first time:

On Janaury 23.2018 in and around the neighbourhood of Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, Berlin-Weißensee:

LADY GABY, Mad Kate and Tatiana Bogacheva

Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz

Were feeling placed within misplacement, creating a range of public space performance interventions:

We went around for 2 hours looking for places and things we felt comfortable with and a longing for, marking them with pink wool and intervening as displaced female characters: statue of liberty, maid, queen and the migrant. Site specific sounds and recorded conversations have been added too as well as a whole array of misplaced found objects.

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Misplaced Women?

Written Contribution by Gaby Bila-Günther aka LADY GABY

My whole life I have felt misplaced and displaced, as I migrated from one continent to another to find a new home and a new nationality. As a child, I grew up in Transylvania, in Romania during the communist regime. As my father defected to Australia in 1980, my mother and I followed him two years later. Thats when my history of misplacement began, first with my fathers defection, as I felt I didn’t belong in that society any longer. My mother who was born in Greece due to the civil war there in the 1950’s was forced as a child to live as a refugee in Romania, being a noncitizen, and I felt like one too, after my father defected and we prepared to follow him. I was kicked out of the pioneers organisation and our phones and home were under surveillance.

Marked Bench
“Misplaced Women?” interventions by LADY GABY, Mad Kate and Tatiana Bogacheva, Berlin Weißensee, 23.1.2018.

As a young teenager in Australia, in the 80s, I felt more misplaced than ever, as most of the people there had no idea where or what Romania was. I felt like I didn’t belong there neither as nobody could find my country of origin on the map. I felt insignificant, invisible, most of my time as a teenager; however I wanted to belong and be noticed.

When I came to Berlin, in 1989 at the time of the Wall falling down, my displacement manifested itself in the fact that I was illegal for three years and couldn’t speak the language either, however as an artist I began to find my feet and work with the theme of misplacement and identity. Berlin, the city where I found MY feet, MY words and made up MY mind about the world around ME.

Since 1994, my work has been about misplacement, identity, gender relations, social decline and domestic mapping. I often perform in spaces where as an artist or as a woman I am not supposed to be: men’s toilets, elevators, laundrettes, public spaces, public transport, etc. Through my performances in those spaces, I belong, I show that I exist and I demand attention and recognition.. I HAVE A VOICE!

During the Misplaced Women? interventions in the frame of the Berlin workshop lead by Tanja Ostojić, I chose to walk around the area of Weißenssee, as I felt misplaced inside the village-like atmosphere of that neighbourhood. However the streets, the houses and that environment gave me a familiar sense, as it reminded me of communist Romania where I GREW UP and reminiscent of the old post Wall East Berlin. So I looked for places I felt were displaced and marked them with a strand of pink wool, and did a whole range of public interventions at those places. Old communist statues, old bike wheels, an old fountain in the middle of a busy round-about, gallery and on a boat sculpture outside the Brotfabrik. During our walk some of us from the workshop including Mad Kate, Sajan Mani and Tatiana Bogacheva recorded sounds that we detected as misplaced on the streets of the neighbourhood such as construction sites on a quiet small street. The whole time I carried a suitcase with me containing misplaced objects for no reason inside, which I opened and displayed during the interventions. I transformed into several misplaced FEMAIL and FEMINIST characters besides myself: The ARTIST, The CLEANING MAID and The STATUE OF LIBERTY, all identities I can relate to as a woman, illegal worker, migrant and a refugee.

“Misplaced Women?” interventions by LADY GABY, Berlin Weißensee, 23.1.2018. Photo: Sajan Mani
with sajan, liberty
“Misplaced Women?” interventions by LADY GABY, Berlin Weißensee, 23.1.2018.

Through those actions of marking misplaced objects, recording of the misplaced sounds, and doing public interventions around sculptures and objects that reminded me of home, gave me a sense of belonging, comfort and familiarity, reminiscing the times and moments in my life when I felt secure and grounded. The places reminded me of my family migration that was carried out along side with the lack of identity and legality of living in a strange land, as well as my transformation from a young woman into a confident present artist.

Participation in the Misplaced Women? workshop really helped me strengthened my public intervention performances and try out new ways of domestic mapping. The interactions with the other participating performers and artists helped me indeed to achieve this as well and push new boundaries regarding performing in public. The walks in the neighbourhood of Berlin-Weißenssee, opened my eyes and inspired new ideas and concepts for the projects. New collaborations where born, for instance I performed with mirrors on the Berlin trains together with 5 other women artists from the project. That intervention, holding mirrors, empowered me and my presence. 

Text written by Gaby Bila-Günther

Edited and first published by Tanja Ostojić, 2018 on the Misplaced Women? project blog

Photos of the public interventions and marking of the misplaced objects by Sajan Mani, Mad Kate and Tatiana Bogacheva

This series of interventions by Lady Gaby have been developed and realised in the frame of “Misplaced Women?” workshop by Tanja Ostojić hosted by Kunsthalle Berlin Weißenssee, January 2018.

marked fountain1

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About the author:

Gaby Bila-Günther aka LADY GABY, originally from Romania, arrived to Berlin via Melbourne where she would regularly perform in public. She published her spoken-word, poetry, short stories and nonfiction articles online, on CD compilations, in journals, magazines and literature anthologies internationally.

She has performed, curated and showed text based, collages and video works internationally. In 2000 in Melbourne, Australia, she launched her self-published book Validate & Travel on a ‘moving tram’ and in 2002 her own spoken word filled with ambient techno beats debut CD, Off the Main, with music producer ZOG. In 2003 in Berlin together with fellow writer Jessica Falzoi she formed the Poets’ Party while in Melbourne she was part of Urban ART and Flush artist groups. In Melbourne together with her partner Teo Gunther they ran the performance and live music warehouse space, CBI PRODS, where underground techno parties, CD launches and various performance art events took place from 1995 till 2002.

For more information please visit:

Spoken word and sounds by various musicians

Spoken word and performance show

Word Bank Radioshow

Spoken word and beats with guest musicians

Lady Gaby’s artist run space

with statue1
“Misplaced Women?” interventions by LADY GABY, Berlin Weißensee, 23.1.2018.
marked lady

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Please visit as well other contributions and posts from the same workshops:

Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz

Contribution by Rhea Ramjohn

Contribution by Mad Kate

Contribution by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Contribution by Jiachen Xu and Evdoxia Stafylaraki

Contribution by Ola Kozioł

Contribution by Татьяна Bogacheva

Contribution by Katja Vaghi

Contribution by Nati Canto

Public Presentation of the Misplaced Women? Workshop in Berlin, January 24, 2018

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