Festival of Queer and Feminist Culture Smoqua
As a combination of art and activism, Smoqua gathers artists and activists from Croatia and abroad with the aim of promoting queer and feminist culture and questioning social prejudices and “inviting” to reflect on them. In three days of mingling and open dialogue in the City that flows, the audience can feel and “dive” into queer and feminist culture through: exhibitions, panel discussions and talks, workshops, theatre plays, research presentations, drag shows, performances, games and other interactive content.
A little bit of history: why Smoqua?
Through many years of work in LGBTIQ+ topics and with LGBTIQ+ community, LORI has realised that although queer and feminist culture in Croatia is present, it remains marginalised and lacks systematic support for its development and networking.
The topics of queer and feminism in Croatia are still most often considered socially unnecessary, unacceptable, inappropriate, even improper and have negative connotations, while the general public is not familiar enough with them. Thus, an initiative was born: to provide a “meeting point” of the wider community, especially youth, with persons prominent in queer and feminist culture from Croatia and abroad, thus encouraging the further development of cultural and artistic contents in this area.
The idea of organising a festival in Rijeka was “brewing” for several years, and although promoting queer culture was one of LORI strategic goals, the focus of our work was informing the public and empowering LGBTIQ+ community. Too, finding funds, partner organisations, how to do it, with whom, with what? … was not an easy task. However, where there is a will, there is a way: in 2016, Rijeka was awarded the title of European Capital of Culture 2020, and Smoqua found its place in the Port of Diversity (the slogan of the ECOC). The first Smoqua was held in 2017 and was part of the Kitchen of Diversity programme until 2020.
With various organisations, associations and institutions such as PaRiter (co-organisers since 2017), Citizens to their City and the Centre for Women's Studies at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Rijeka (co-organisers of the first editions of the festival), Palach, Art-kino and many others, Smoqua has created new spaces for collaboration while incorporating different perspectives, knowledge and experiences.
The first six editions of Smoqua featured over 180 artists and activists from more than 25 countries around the world.
Okay, now we have Smoqua, but... what is Smoqua?
The international Festival of Queer and Feminist Culture Smoqua enables the public to get acquainted with queer and feminist culture in a safe and stimulating environment through exchanging thoughts and experiences, and gain new knowledge about its importance, position and contribution to the development of a democratic society.
Smoqua breaks down prejudices, “disintegrates'' patriarchal patterns with contents that are not present or visible enough in our society: through a diverse programme in Croatian and English, everyone has the opportunity to reflect, exchange experiences and opinions, while enriching the festival which is also a platform for networking and connecting among diverse audiences. Smoqua always strives to be inclusive, so festival activities are free of charge and in as much as possible accessible locations.
The festival points out to various relevant social issues by promoting non-violence and sustainability, for example, through the use of recycled promotional materials, providing vegan meals for participants and volunteers, discounts on arriving by train, etc.
Connection is one of the key dimensions of Smoqua: it is conceived as a meeting place for networking and collaboration among various stakeholders: civil society organisations, institutions, collectives, initiatives, youth hangout spots, cafes and companies, cultural forums, and individuals prominent in queer and feminism from Croatia and abroad.