Jasmina Tumbas
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Queer Jugoslovenka
in “I am Jugoslovenka!”
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In Chapter 3, Tumbas focuses on what she terms the emergence of a “queer” Jugoslovenka, including a discussion of this figure’s context in the 1980s and her legacy today. This chapter provides a visual history of the Yugoslav lesbian and queer movement and traces its influences in contemporary visual culture and art, including the surfacing of transgender resistance and queer life in rural areas. It hones in on women’s explorations of their gender power in music, avant-garde art circles, and performance art. Focusing on performance, video, and photographical works by music groups as well as prominent women artists such as Zemira Alajbegović, Marina Gržinić and Aina Šmid, and Vlasta Delimar, this chapter highlights how Yugoslav emancipatory performance politics and liberatory plays on gender performance push for the embrace of women’s desires in spite of unceasing patriarchal domination in Yugoslavia. Analyzing the significance of emancipatory and sexually charged politics for the immediate post-Yugoslav war context, the chapter also considers the seminal role of Merlinka, a well-known trans woman and sex worker in Belgrade featured in director Želimir Žilnik’s Marble Ass (1995). This film became one of the earliest from the region to feature an affirmative image of trans identity and Merlinka became a symbol of peace and resistance. The chapter ends with Helena Janečić, whose emphasis on the question of gay life within rural areas of former Yugoslavia, along with her own desire in her Horny Dyke series, pays homage to the untold legacies of lesbian Yugoslav women in love.

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“I am Jugoslovenka!”

Feminist performance politics during and after Yugoslav socialism


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