Pilotki Manifesto

Dear pilots of various feminist projects, Plotkist_innen, feministki, femmes and emanziplots,

I got this dream that I would like to keep still a bit secret but already tell at least to you: Together with other participants in the femzine, I would like to do a Pilotki project, and we hope that some of you are interested in connecting with it in the context of the Plotki fem(inist) zine in one or another way and, in addition, to think with us about the idea of Pilotkis-Pilotinnen.

The idea of Pilotki comes from the image, the fantasies that came to my mind every time I heard the word „Plotkistinnen.” Plotkistinnen, for me that word sounds a bit like a group of pilots or professional workers in a cosmonaut station, helicopter pilots. I imagined women bus drivers or gardeners. After these images, there came other associations: pictures of women-pilots who were courageously flying across the oceans in the early 20th century, and whom I saw on old photographs in black and white, smiling into the camera, very beautiful and in their ways, strong.

On the picture: Pilot Amelia Earhart


The example of the Euromayday activist fashion and the Imbattibles sticker album

Then I was thinking on the remarkable Euromayday campaign, originally founded in Milano in 2001. Euromayday activists attracted a little change in public discourse on the ‘flexibilisation’ of work conditions just because they had good visual ideas (look at euromayday.org, google chainworkers, take a look, e.g. on the Hamburg homepage and their posters with the cyber putzfrau, androgyneous activists and so on). What the activists from Euromayday did was to turn their own and others difficult precarious life situations into a positive image of the ‘Imbattibili’, fragile heroes of precarity. There are the emerging transnational movements of precarious workers and/or students, people from different contexts, who work without stable contracts and/or live from one scholarship to another, search for work. Some of them are highly skilled but easy to replace and fire; others are in a much worse situation like migrants who risk to be illegalised and othered in many ways in the system we live in. 

One of the best ideas of Euromayday for creating vizibility, I think, was to go beyond the negative position of ‘being against’ something, against precarity, against capitalism, against neoliberalism. Euromayday goes beyond the past strategies within the Left by creating the positive icons of the „imbattables“ (imbatibili/die unschlagbaren) who are a set of maybe 18 heroes of precarity in the form of stickers that were distributed to the Euromayday demonstrators in Milano last year. Stickers that could be brought together in a sticker album, like for soccer see on the homepage www.chainworkers.org/imbattibili/.  Or their fashion project called “Serpica Naro” (find on Google).

From the Imbattibles to the Pilotki project

What does this all have to do with plotki feminism? From the sticker-icons of flexible workers to the Plotkistinnen-Pilotinnen framework comes the idea to create one or better two, three, four image(s)/icon(s) of Plotkistinnen as Pilotinnen, or pilotkis. I propose a Plotkistin-Pilotin associated conceptualisation because many Pilotinnen I know live a life of trying to pilot their way through big cities, different countries and without having a lot of perspectives as artists and scientists or activists or journalists in an economically wealthy world though in a system creating individualist responsabilisation and hardship (e.g. if you don’t have a health insurance because you don’t earn enough and so on). Of course, we are still privileged. Nevertheless, we can fight for our rights and express solidarity with those who have much less.

 

Plotkistinnen and the Pilotki project

I propose a Plotkistin-Pilotin associated conceptualisation because I feel that many Pilotinnen I know live a life of trying to pilot their way through big cities, different countries and without having a lot of perspectives as artists and scientists or activists or journalists in an economically wealthy world though in a system creating individualist responsabilisation and hardship (e.g. if you don’t have a health insurance because you don’t earn enough and so on). I was always getting angry about those who are telling us that we are an a-political generation, that is why I also like the idea of having positive hero images, and that is why I propose to adopt them to the plotki art repertoire. We could change something if we do art, if we become a little bit proud of piloting through life. Maybe we could also inspire some more people that way, instead of staying in our melancholic little cocon. To jest kokon. By writing this critical thought on melancholy, I don’t mean that I would like to exclude sadness. Sadness can be very productive, especially for doing art. Anyhow, I believe that the hope aspect should be the motor of the pilotki project, the core. Then flying will be easier.

On the picture: Soviet pilots


Short time perspective: We create our own Pilotki fashion

To give a visual reflection of the concept of Pilotki-pilots, we begin slowly. We could for instance make our own fashion, we could design icons that would be printed on tissue, clothes that we could wear ourselves and/or sell at the release party of the feminist zine. !! So we could earn money that we will use for doing a collective and international seminarJ.

 There are already some proposals like to create feminist pilotki-uniforms, in other words, to design a collective outfit for usually invisible and individualised precarious workers of many contexts. We will create pilotki fashion based on working overalls or other work clothes, Arbeiterinnenuniformen. This is not expensive. We can print it.Pilotki fashion would be the fashion by pilotki for pilotki. We will use cotton because it meets our needs and we find it sexy. We will talk about our fashion and stop the silence of women about problems that concern women first of all. Thus, we propose cotton anti-yeast infection underwear. We don’t want synthetic glamour. We want to wear cotton overalls like Amelia Earhart, the American pilot on the picture does, because cotton feels comfy and strong. Pilotki fashion aims at changing shapes because bodies are ‘recognised’ and divided phenomenologically according to shapes. In doing so, we follow our idols, the Russian avantgardist artists Varvara Stepanova and Ljubov Popova whose objective was to design clothes for another future.

Long time perspective: the dream of producing pilotki movies

More than that, I would actually also, in a longer perspective, like to invite you to do pilotki videos and movies on, as and with pilots in different countries. Anyhow, I would like to show strong and weak women in their diversity of piloting through sometimes harsh life conditions and windy weathers and I invite you to make vizible what you see, too. I would like to show what I see and break the common stereotypes of women shown in the soaps. By this, I don’t mean that I would like to only show women who drive busses or aviators, or Bundeswehr soldiers. I would like to focus on the uncovered hidden pilot in women who appear the most adapted and superficial and stereotypical of the world. To show them in moments you don’t see on TV. To show the paradox, the Unspoken.

a Picture taken by the artist and philosopher Trinh Minh-ha

Many friendly greetings from Berlin,
Nicole Dörr

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