Smoqua 2 – how we queered-up Rijeka for 3 days

Posted in Novosti

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Dear all, second edition of Smoqua in the city that flows (and as we like to say – that thinks :)) has finished in early morning hours on Sunday, 20th of May.

Overwhelmed with emotions and with our hearts full we would like to write you a word or two. Please do not hold it against us if we make it a bit longer, because – during just 3 days in Rijeka, we have experienced so much! 

Firstly, we want to thank the truly amazing team of people that worked hard and managed to make the second edition of Smoqua even better than the first one – to our dear partners Centre for Women’s Studies (University of Rijeka), PaRiter and platform From the Citizens to their City, as well as to other associates: Art-Kino, Cafe Bar Striga, Crkva Club, Damir Urban and LET 3 (shooting of the promotion video was great!), Queer Zagreb, Filodrammatica, Palach, RI-INFO, Youth Club Rijeka and many others. Smoqua would not exist without the financial support of Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture and City of Rijeka, plus one big thanks to our sponsors Adria print and Bordel La Grotta. We want to specially thank our participants who had actively engaged in deconstruction of prejudice, promotion of human rights and queer and feminist culture, as well as in dialogue with the audience. Finally, we are happy and grateful to Smoqua's audience (from Rijeka as well as the crew coming from other cities just for the festival) that was dedicated, interested, and willing to actively participate in the programme. We are proud to say that visitors from other cities and countries were amazed by our, as they said, wonderful city! :)

However, all of this would not be possible nor equally successful without the time, will, patience and love for Smoqua of our hardworking volunteers! From the bottom of our hearts, thank you Alex, Vedran, Romana, Barbara, Lea, Tena, Tea, Nora... In fairness, you are amazing!

So, how did we queer-up Rijeka for couple of days?

A big success of the first edition of Smoqua was a certain ‘refreshment’ of queer scene in Rijeka and the broader region which motivated us and gave us strength to take a step further with Smoqua 2. This is how it became an international festival, with participants from 3 continents, happening precisely on the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), 17th of May. This has been the 6th year in a row that LORI marks the IDAHOT and Rijeka is still the only Croatian city that shows its support by raising the rainbow flag above the City Hall’s entrance. Naturally, this act has been chosen for the opening of the festival on Thursday, 17th of May at 8 o’clock, alongside the 4 other rainbow flags ‘looking over’ Korzo.

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Smoqua has gathered artists and activists with whom we have thought and discussed about Pride and prejudice – the topic of this year’s festival, and about currently relevant questions related to queer and feminism in our communities, as well as outside of Croatia. Through the programme we hoped to provide our audience with new knowledge, sensitize them, move the limits of our usual rationale and encourage development of the new ideas and emotions – with an aim of creating better society that nurtures acceptance and inclusion, community that is constantly moving forward and within which individuals develop, progress and grow.

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Smoqua’s main focus from the very beginning has been openness - it is a space opened for anyone interested, with a majority of the events and activities carried out in public areas: Korzo, the City Hall, cinema, cafes, clubs etc.

During the first day, visitors had the opportunity to inform themselves about the work of CSOs in the field of women’s rights and/or LGBTIQ topics Rijeka and its surroundings at our info booths on Korzo, to learn about the "different" history of Rijeka during the Queer walk and to learn more about the program from the organizers at the opening session. Further on, there was a panel where we discussed the state of rights of LGBT persons and women in Europe, where besides the brilliant moderator Marina Škrabalo spoke the UN representative Cianan Russell from Transgender Europe, Florin Buhuceanu - Romanian LGBT activist, and Karolina Wieckiewicz, a Polish activist for women's reproductive rights. Afterwards, in the fully-packed Fillodrammatica, Kris Grey, transgender artist from the USA, has amazed with his multimedial performance Body Dialectics. It was a real spectacle for the senses, as Kris introduced us to the transgender topics, exploring identity and evoking a storm of emotions. In the evening we celebrated IDAHOT at Caffe bar Striga downing shooters in the colours of the rainbow.

The second day (Friday) has started with a workshop led by Mónica Cano Abadía (from Spain) which gave us a chance to learn about feminist self-defense.

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This was followed by the opening of Marina Šalov’s photo exhibition (In)visible Love Stories – the number of people trying to ‘squeeze’ into the exhibition space is an evidence of a exteremely high interest for her art. The brilliant White on White have contributed to the touching atmosphere of modesty and pride by opening the exhibition with their music performance. Further on, there was a programme in Križanić street, in the venue Citizens to their City. There we first had an opportunity to listen to Mavi Veloso and Kris Grey talk about their work and the position of trans artists, moderated by Zvonimir Dobrović from Queer Zagreb. After the discussion, the audience enjoyed the impressive performance Project TRANS by the Brazilian artist Veloso which fused video, performance, photography and drag queen culture. Afterwards, the first GSG magazine for society and art was presented, which was developed as a document of the Smoqua 1. Final event was a card tournament :) – we got introduced to the interesting and educative card game „Fierce Women“, created by the team of VoxFeminae. The tournament was opened by game’s ambassadors from Rijeka, and fierce women themselves - Brigita Miloš, Nikolina Deranja and Danijela Almesberger. Night hours of the second day we spent in Bordel La Grotta, drinking wine and chatting.

The morning of the third day (although it was not included in the programme) we of course spent on Korzo in the protest called “March for Freedom”, which was organised by the citizens of Rijeka, as a reaction to the so-called March for ‘Life’. The support to resilience against the efforts to threaten the rights of women, LGBTI persons, members of national minorities - in one word – all the ‘others’ in our homeland, was showed also by the participant of Smoqua coming from other countries. Therefore, with this strong feeling of contributing to freedom, love, dignity and togetherness we have started the last day of the festival. It was hard to believe that this protest is not part of the programme. :) It was amazing how many citizens of Rijeka attended! You can check it out here.

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After the protest we have continued with Human Library in Filodrammatica which enabled visitors to have a conversation with members of marginalised groups and in this way to face and fight their prejudice. As well, there was the Wall art on St. Barbara’s square where we have also created a mural of queer and feminist ideas. Afterwards, participants were offered the opportunity to ‘queer-up’ a mainstream movie within the Queering-up workshop in Youth club Rijeka (as it turned out, the lesbians have saved the Titanic :)) and they did their ‘job’ brilliantly! We have enjoyed the powerful performance Ctitoria Clitoria by Romanian artist Ruth Borgfjord, that raised topics of her personal artistic path as a queer creator, lesbian, and as a person to whom spirituality is very important. This was at the same time a perfect introduction to the panel discussion Who is allowed to believe in God?, on the attitude of the Church towards women and LGBT persons, where Marjana Harcet, theologist from Slovenia, moderated discussion between Ruth and Mihael Sečen from Rijeka.

In the evening we watched the touching documentary When I was a boy, I was a girl in Art-kino. After the movie, Marija Katalinić from CWS Rijeka talked with the author Ivana Todorović about the film and its main characters.

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Final event of the festival was the big Queer UP! Party where energetic DJ Sonja Sajzor (Serbia) has constantly animated the crowd in the Club Crkva and created tremendous atmosphere with her experimental combination of alternative and darker pop and hip-hop.

See you next year - Smoqua is waiting for you!

Your LORI girls

(Photos: TinyBizz Photography, LORI, CŽS Rijeka; Video: Moja Rijeka, TinyBizz)

Photos from the festival can be found on LORI Facebook page.

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Smoqua is a part of flagship Kitchen, Rijeka 2020 - European Capital of Culture.

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Organisers: LORI in collaboration with PaRiterFrom the Citizens to Their CityCenter for Women's Studies (University of Rijeka)

Financial support by: Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture / City of Rijeka / Primorje-Gorski Kotar County / Republic of Croatia, Ministry of Culture / European Commission / Musagetes

Sponsors: Adria print and Bordel La Grotta

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Media sponsor: Novi list

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