webcomics, writings, visual art
During the summer of 2016, I got back into zine-making thanks to the support and encouragement of Nina (Same Heartbeats, Echozine Publishing). Her organizing of a 24-hour zine-making sleepover
saw the birth of WITCH, in fact! A while back, she was on the lookout for people to help her co-host a two-day long zine-making workshop at Ladyfest in Maastricht, the Netherlands. I eagerly accepted, and armed with the second editions of WITCH and its predecessor, we met up at Brussels Central Station on a sunny Saturday.
After dropping off our things at our host’s place, we strolled through the charming university town off the river Meuse. I always get very excited when I come across this river due to my lifelong crush on Arthur Rimbaud. I could *almost* give Patti Smith’s Rimbaud fangirling a run for her money. I think I actually developed my love of Rimbaud because of learning about him from her.
The town itself was a pleasant surprise to say the least. I instantly felt really comfortable there with its laid-back, friendly atmosphere. It’s affordable, liveable and full of arty re-appropriated spaces. The Madrigal, the squat hosting Ladyfest is just such a place. Rumored to be a former office for a rubber factory, it is a lumbering and psychedelic structure featuring a modest cafe, performance and studio spaces as well as serving as the living space for several people.
We set up and got to work on putting together a commemorative Ladyfest zine that we were to create during the festival with the help of anyone interested in collaborating. During the course of the day, we got the chance to not only encounter some seriously kind participants and organizers, but we got to attend some vital, educationally enriching workshops/discussions.
Saturday’s workshops included ‘An Introduction to Intersectionality’ led by Aincre Evans, Wives and Daughters Of: Changing the Narrative on Wikipedia held by Just For The Record Collective, Ladies Cycle DIY (Bike Repair Workshop) that took place throughout the event and facilitated over by Ln and Lety. Resilience and Self Defense courtesy of Vrouwen Gezondheid Centrum Maastricht. Female Sexual Pleasure Documentary screening and discussion. A Conversation on Trans Identities and Experiences with Bea Tilanus and Em was held. Age and Fashion with Clara Overweg, ‘Changing The World, One (Queer) Porn A Time?’ About the Love Hate Relationship Between Porn and Feminism hosted by Lucia Luxemburg from Amsterdam. On Sunday, the lecture Trans Feminism & European/American Art workshop was held by Luca and Andrea. To Destroy Domination in all its forms: an Anarcha-Feminist Primer facilitated by Marina and Elli, yoga workshop, Bralessness by Annabelle and Fe, followed by a poetry slam and performances from Einav Bloom and Sur Le Fil from Brussels closed out the evening.
Saturday after dinner, the conference I attended (and was absolutely blown away by) was the Afro-Feminism discussion hosted by Mwanamke Collectif Afrofeministe Belge. Based out of Brussels, Belgium and featuring a wide array of nationalities spread far and wide via the African diaspora, the women of this necessary and dynamic collective powerfully engaged the audience with wider struggles within the intersections of racial and feminist identities.
After the day’s events, we headed down to the basement space of the structure to check out Brussel’s own Vaporellas. The lead singer reminded me of a cross between the lead singer of the Au Pair’s and Alice Bag. She had so much dynamism and energy! They did some blistering covers, a highlight being the Ramone’s ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’. I haven’t seen a room full of people move so frenetically in ages. Sadly, I was sitting this one out as I was way too exhausted for anything more than crashing on the couch, bobbing my head enthusiastically like a 37-year-old version of my teenage self as a permanent fixture on a dirty couch at all ages venue Gee Coffee. Alas, some things never change. Next up was Sans Gene from Cologne. They were incredibly intense and deconstructed raged out feminist hardcore that held me captivated throughout their entire set. Djs Witches With Attitude (WITCH zine could not condone that name enough) from Amsterdam played until late in the night.
The next day, after a delicious bagel breakfast in the center, we headed back to Mandril in time to catch Gabi Szabo’s fascinating discussion on Witchcraft & Spiritual Feminism. I really enjoyed Gabi’s approach to the subject, as well as the way she engaged with the group. She offered a wonderful introduction to witchcraft, as well as the lunar cycles. We learned about setting up an altar space. A woman of Romani descent explained that in her culture, it is important to occupy every corner of the room with some sort of devotional in order to produce good energy.
Nina and I returned to Brussels buzzing off the two days revelry. It was the perfect coming together of different intersections of feminism. For this hermit, it was also an incredible (albeit exhausting) experience to get to engage with so many inspiring, kind people from a multitude of backgrounds. This could very well be the first time in all my years of attending feminist/queer festivals that I’ve come home percolating with inspiration and positivity. I wish I could say this was a more common occurrence, but so many times there is some element of the event that is a bit frustrating and souring. This time around, I felt surrounded by supportive and curious like-minded individuals open to conversation and creation.