Calm Down Dear / Exeunt Interview, 2015

- interview with Bojana Jankovic

-       Fourth wave feminism has probed into the mainstream and pop culture over the last several years; do you think it’s been successful in terms of reigning down – to a degree - sexism and gender inequality?

If I’m honest, I think it depends who you speak to, or where you are in the world. I definitely think that there is a much greater awareness of gender inequality, and to some degree I think that the word itself (‘Feminism’) has become much more accepted, and generally less of a ‘dirty’ or taboo word. However, the movement itself, of a kind of ‘pop feminism’ is undoubtedly the domain of the western world, and those who have access to mass media and internet culture.

 However, I will say that through my work with teenage girls in London, it’s obvious that there are more young girls with access to political ideas and movements than ever before, which is definitively empowering.

 -       Would you consider your practice feminist - or yourself an artists working within the feminist discourse? How do you feel about the label?

  I think I would call my work political, although I wouldn’t shy away from my work being labelled ‘feminist’. I make the work I want to make- the work that often comes from a place of deep political/emotional unrest in me, and thus as I am a feminist the work is labelled ‘feminist’.  I don’t have a problem with that.

 -       Pretty Ugly received a lot of attention from international media. Did you notice any differences in how its topics were considered in the UK and abroad?

Yes, I definitely noticed a huge difference in how the research was received between the US and UK. I found on the whole, that those in the UK seemed to be more concerned and shocked that young girls were taking to the internet and asking youtubers to rate their looks, in the US I felt as if this practice was generally more accepted, and the focus there was more on the effects that this might have on the girls, rather than questioning what was at the root of the asking. This to me spoke of a huge difference in what these cultures expect of young girls and women.

 -       Pretty Ugly headlined the first edition of Calm Down, Dear. As an artist who has been involved from the start, what’s your take on the festival’s impact, both inside and outside the theatre/performance community?

  I think the festival has been really important in defining a moment in time in the theatre/performance community, and in helping this kind of work develop a wider audience. That in itself, feels like an important and wonderful thing for the political atmosphere surrounding these ideas. I’m so pleased that the festival is now on its third year- this shows that the festival is far from embracing a zeitgeist-y kind of ‘pop feminism’, and supports the wider, and longer running effort at its core. And it goes without saying, I’m extremely proud to be back headlining the