The initiative for women’s festival Red Dawns began in 2000 in the Autonomous Cultural Centre Metelkova mesto in Ljubljana, Slovenia. A small group of women – members of associations KUD Mreža, ŠKUC-LL, Monokel and the no longer existing Women’s Centre and Kasandra – questioned the position of women in the tangled mesh of art, culture, politics, activism and everyday life. In Metelkova mesto, like elsewhere, the larger part of creative and organizational yet invisible work was done by women. Women were keeping Metelkova mesto alive and lively. We decided to organize a women festival on 8 March, the International Women’s Day, to celebrate our lives and redefine public space in order to make it accessible for creativity and socializing of women on our own terms: in an non-hierarchical, non-exploitational and anti-capitalistic manner.
We have not searched for “the essence” of Woman. The feminist struggles of the past have proved that attempts at defining women by our sex or even by our common features of character are misleading: they worry about metaphysics of “femininity” and “masculinity” instead of dealing with the reality of everyday hatred, disrespect and exploitation of women – and men. Festival Red Dawns does not advocate a further polarization of genders or “war of the sexes”. Instead, the creativity and the mingling of the participants of Red Dawns question the boundaries we take for granted; the isolating boundaries that separate people regardless of our gender.
The first edition of festival Red Dawns presented artists and activists working in Metelkova mesto. In 2001, it connected with political allies from the Balkans and Central European neighbourhood. The assembly of low-budget and voluntary periphery travelled from Metelkova mesto to other locations – MC Podlaga (Sežana), Pekarna (Maribor) and Mostovna (Nova Gorica) – thereby considerably widening the circle of contributors. Since then, many individuals and other associations have joined and continue to support Red Dawns: Alkatraz Gallery, KUD Anarhiv, Radio Student, DZAC, CrossConversationCut, kamera REVOLTA, Cinema iNVISIBLE, feminist debate club of Faculty for Social Sciences, Teater Gromki, MKC Koper, MIKK Murska Sobota and the jugglers’ collective of Menza Pri Koritu. Even though the groups differ greatly in their beliefs and not all of them can identify with any specific feminist theory they support the continuous efforts of Red Dawns as they believe that women’s work deserves more attention and appreciation.