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Tricky Women Pushing Boundaries

Art world patriarchy meets its match at women-only cultural festival

Fast approaching its 20th year, the annual Tricky Women festival has set its sights on gunning down the male hegemony of the international art scene by creating a cross-cultural women-only space for female thought leaders and aesthetic visionaries. 

This year’s event kicked off in Vienna yesterday with a packed programme boasting a range of speakers and exhibitions from animators including Reka Gacs (Hungary), Signe Baumane (Latvia) and Gaelle Denis (France). Low-key and lo-fi, the aim of the festival is to foster border-busting communication and collaboration between emerging and established female artists.

Dazed digital caught up with festival directors Waltraud Grausgruber and Birgitt Wagner at the end of day one.

Dazed Digital: So, how did you come up with the idea for Tricky Women?
Waltraud Grasugruber: In the 90s we discovered all these video tapes with amazing animated films published by the BFI and Jayne Pilling - the woman responsible for kick-starting the British Animation Awards. There was one in collection in particular called Wayward Girls and Wicked Women, which really caught our attention. It was an old VHS cassette that had this series of subversive films looking at the darker side of family life. That was kind of the start of our shared fascination with animation.

DD: Why do you think it’s important to promote this sort of women-only cultural space?
Birgitt Wagner: As long as women still earn about 30 per cent less than men, it’s vital that there are people out there providing an outlet and a voice to encourage greater equality. That fact’s just as true in the art world as it is in the wider economy, so Tricky Women is our small contribution to redressing the balance. That said, our audience is mixed and we do screen co-productions so long as women hold the central roles – whether that’s as producers, directors or creative leads.

DD: Do you think festivals like Tricky Women have a responsibility towards nurturing younger artists?
WG: For sure. This year we’ve worked with Ars Electronica in Linz to schedule a programme of content that focuses on animations made by emerging female artists under 19.  We’ve also come up with several workshops for beginners to help encourage and empower a new generation to take up the baton and start carving their own space. 
BW: There have been some big shifts in terms of the fact that there are more women than ever looking to gain access to creative roles within the world of video games and 3D animation, but these are still male-dominated areas. The general experience of younger artists is that where the budgets are low, it’s easier to break in. We want to help more young animators and designers see that working on projects with larger budgets is a realistic aspiration.
Tricky Women runs 4th-8th March at culture2culture, Museumplatz 1, Vienna