C.S.: It seems to make sense to me, that small groups do small projects together - and then connect with each other, because there is no longer money for real big events or infrastructure.
K.R.H.: FACE SETTING was never supposed to be such a big thing. It was supposed to be very defined and manageable. And the countries were choosen, because they are geographically in border areas that weren't in the serious connectivity like, let's say Berlin, or Amsterdam or New York. They were places where connectivity existed, but maybe the women there weren't very connected. So, we knew some connectivity points for them, and could help them with foreign connections. We liked to be there, maybe even liked something destinctive about the cooking, or the theory. Like the girls in Belgrad, they are very theoretical, they are amazing women. These are not just women from the art community. They are from sociology, psychology, literature, from theatre and I think it's important to bring those different kinds of people together, because they are all interested in the online experience.
C.S.: Are they organized themselves?
K.R.H.: They have a group around 'Profemina', a feminist magazine that's produced there. And there has started up some kind of a local network of women in a mailinglist-chat. It's in Serbian. This is from both Belgrade and Novi Sad.
C.S.: Let's talk about FACES now, the mailing list.
K.R.H.: Well, it also came out of a dinner in Vienna (as I said before). We announced it in Liverpool in April 1997. I was very nervous about it, was afraid that it could become too big. I knew that it would be a lot of work and so I suggested that we start very small to get our feet wet, because I never did this before, neither did Diana McCarty (co moderator). We wanted to find a female webmistress and finally found Vali Djordjevic, who was working at International Stadt in Berlin. Vali got us online.
C.S.: How did you start with the list, how did you choose the basic group?
K.R.H.: We started with somebody from each of the countries where we had the dinners. It was just a trial to get to know how to do it physically. And when we all felt comfortable, how to subscribe people, there were a lot of technical problems and it would have been terrible to have hundreds of people on this list. Actually it didn't take us very long to learn how to do it. We found out that the small group was not big enough to make an interesting conversation. So we started to put in more.
C.S.: Yes, I think the right number of subscribers to a list is an important factor of it's success - and not easy to control.
K.R.H.: The beginning was really thought about as a connection between the different groups which had met for dinner. It was simply a tool for us to keep in touch between the dinners, and it was a logical step and then a lot of people expressed interest, and asked why it was private and this and that. We did not have the ambition to have a major big list, encompassing all the women from media art world. We just wanted to let it take it's own course.
C.S.: So what is your experience after one year?
K.R.H.: Well, we did not want to be heavy-handed moderators, because we wanted people to feel free to say what they want. There is a lot of criticism that it is not moderated enough, nobody realizes that we have a bsolutely no money for this and that we spent hours online on our own expense, somehow it is real interesting experience, what they expect. They expect that someone presents the topics, we present the topics. We all have a lot to learn about how to put ourselves out into public discussion. I think women don't like to be in public discussion.
C.S.: Would you say that women, first of all, expect something, when they subscribe to the list and do not have the idea of contributing?
K.R.H.: Yes, they see what they can get. Maybe that is natural, maybe you join something like this to get information, but slowly it starts and then you give some information, because people feel associated.
C.S.: Don't you think that this could also depend on how familiar people are with the medium itself? Maybe you are just shy in the beginning, lurk a little, before you present your opinion to the public of a list?
K.R.H.: For me it is most interesting to observe how the discussions go between the generations of women. It seems that experience is the biggest devider, more than social or cultural differences. It's where people are in their lives. Younger women seem to have completely different ideas, especially of what is expected by older women and what they should get from them and vice versa.
C.S.: But how do you know how old a woman on your list is?
K.R.H.: I almost know them all personally (probably the others dont know this).
C.S.: So this is the opposite concept to anonymity and subject-free space on the net.
K.R.H.: It certainly is not anonymous. We asked everybody to submit a bio and to write who they are. We wanted to create a place where everybody feels comfortable and knows whom they are talking to.
C.S.: What was the motivation to create a women-only space on the net?
K.R.H.: I feel irritated with a lot of irc-chats and a lot of communication spaces and mailinglists, which are completely dominated by men. I think it is important that women have a place where they don't feel they have to compete with men.
C.S.: I think there is a lot of evangelism about the genderless cyberspace, even produced by female theoreticians. It's a kind of contradiction to ask for women-only spaces. It implcates cyberspace is not genderless, that there is male and female identification. How do you see it, when you say women need their separeted spaces on the net?
K.R.H.: You can have gendered space and genderless space. It (FACES) just happened to be a gendered space. I think it does not say anything about open forums where men call themselves women and women call themselves men. This is perfectly fine, because there gender is less important. But in this particular space it should be a place for women to find their discussion among women. Women should have a place where they don't feel intimidated (although they might feel intimidated by other women, but that's another thing) and maybe this is the most disappointing thing to me, how women can be very critical and non supportive. I expect more. Still, it somehow works in a good way, but not everybody is as open and supportive as they should be!
C.S.: I think it's very problematic to ask for female solidarity nowadays. There are a lot of different political strategies which have problems to come together.
K.R.H.: For me I find it a goal to find solidarity among women. I have benefited greatly from my friendships and associations with women. What do these political strategies mean anyway? What are they, then, if it is not to create a better environment for all women... to be open and supportive. Otherwise, it is just personal another means for achieving career success. In that case, for me, a political stragegy would mean a self-serving use of others. I makes it more interesting to have dialogue among women from many points of view. This is one of the goals of the mailinglist. I feel much more inclined to write to this mailinglist than to any other. Maybe because I see that it serves many puposes... to be a free and casual space, or a place to post a text, like Faith, but ultimately it should be a discussion list, not a theoretical list.
C.S.: How many women are on FACES at the moment?
C.S.: But there are only very few who post regularly and have initiate discussions.
K.R.H.: But when our server was down, I couldn't believe how many mails I got. Women expressed how they miss the list, although they didn't post. Some of them even felt guilty. Some apologized that they were too busy to post. So it's missed.
C.S.: Obviously it was good that it was down, to get some feed-back.
K.R.H.: It just needs to be there. What does this mean? If nobody wrote and nobody responded than it would be another thing. I also subscribed myself to three or four other female mailinglists and the volume of mail on FACES is about 100 times more, and the quality and the topics. What do you think, is going on? I like the example by this eyebeam-list, where they choose certain people with certain topics and they really, you know... But then I had to stop subscribing to it, because I was travelling and had an overload, connectivity problem.
C.S.: Well, that's part of the techno game. Let's come back to female only.
K.R.H.: Neither Eva, nor myself or Diana has some career goal to be known as a female only worker. That's not our work. It's just that we all feel it is worthwhile activity.
C.S.: So connecting women on- and offline is part of your work and not your main identity.
K.R.H.: My identity is female. And I like it that I can represent women, because I felt when I came here to Europe, that there's desperately need for some more attention, desperately.
C.S.: When was that, what year?
C.S.: And you say there was a big difference between the situation for women there and here in Europe?
K.R.H.: I came from Boston and there was a big difference in the kind of quality of understanding of what female organisations and female professional organisations were about. Here in Europe I felt that it was very much especially separated from art that there were very few female-only groups. The -Innen group was one of the only I knew about. The groups which were there were definitely not thought of as being artists, thought of being more sexually, political, instead of being an art concept. I felt that they were somehow not respected highly. In Boston, I was a memebr of Women in Film and Video and we had a big conference every year, hundreds of people that came from all over. It was really great. There were meetings everywhere. It simply was not a problem. It was not an issue about it, it was just fun. And we had really good networking and support. You got a lot of information that you didn't get anywhere else. This just simply wasn't an issue.
C.S.: What do you think is the reason for this difference?
K.R.H.: I don't know what is the real reason for it here. But meanwhile there a lot of women that are actively involved. But sometimes they are a little embarrased about being a feminist. They agree with me, but they don't want to be called a feminist. What's wrong with being feminist? I'm going to reflect on this attitude a lot, also because I'm going to leave Europe again.
C.S.: Oh, are you?
K.R.H.: Yes, in fall I'm going back to the States. I'm going to take a professor job in upstate New York, in Alabany.
C.S.: What are you going to teach there?
K.R.H.: I'll be on the faculty of Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, part of the iEAR studios, which is an integarted electronic arts, sound, performance, video, computer graphics program. My work will be directing the undergraguate program, EMAC called, electronic media arts and communication, and it is the fastest growing course in the institute. It's co- administrated between the art department and a department which is called literature, language and communication which is a more theoretical communication program. And I really like the courses they are giving, a lot of gender politics, a lot of work on ethnics, things on this nature, and those are courses that are not part of the art department. So I felt this is really important and brings a lot of the things I've learned and grown to appreciate and bring them together.
C.S.: I can imagine that it is hard to do the kind of work you do, for such a long time, without getting any regular support.
K.R.H.: I'm glad it did this. I always had this fascination and respect of people working freelance, especially artists, how they manage, and as a curator I always was very artist-centered, and I got a lot of problems with the administrations, because I was always asking for more. The problem of a free-lance life is, that you can't say 'no' to anything, you always have to say 'yes', because you never know, when the next thing is going to happen. Then you are so terribly over-commited and you try this sort of shifting game. Which things can be shifted, which things can't. And it makes you crazy. And then when you agree to write texts, this is even worse, because it's harder to write texts than to give talks, because it is in print. This is nerve-wracking. And then the travelling! I wanted to slow down the travelling, but the travelling also gets associated with the texts, and the programs and so on. Literally I have been in Vienna not more than two weeks this year so far. So I'm relatively homeless.
C.S.: I have one last question. There are several articles where you are called a cyberfeminist, and I would like to know, if you would call yourself a cyberfeminist or more genrally, if you think it is helpful to introduce and use the term 'Cyberfeminism`?
K.R.H.: I have this very clear feeling of what cyberfeminism is. For me it is the very radical statement of VNS Matrix. It's really hard for me to get away from this first impression, the cyberfeminist being very radical and very motivating. It was a real important step and I think cyberfeminism is one of a number of names which is interesting for the time, for the activity. Maybe cyberfeminism is when you use sexuality in a radical way in the internet, rather than being activist. You can call yourself post-feminist, or activist-feminist, or queer-feminist, ... be engaged in feminist activities, all kind of activities. It always goes back to the word feminism.