INVERИO x KONVENT
interview with INVERИO on techno activism and the Polish case against women rights
This interview was conducted before the 27th of January 2021.
On January, 27th 2021, rumours started to spread that the Polish government will step forward on banning the 3rd case of legal abortion, in case of severe & irreversible foetal abnormalities.
At 18:00 and in less than 3 hours, massive protests in more than 51 cities, started across Poland.
In the middle of the night, at 23:15, the ruling was signed and published in the statutory journal, thus coming into effect immediately. Abortion now in Poland is almost impossible.
Darker times are ahead. People are in-between being overwhelmed and furious. People are still protesting, they are being arrested, humiliated, threatened by the police. Many stories are being shared on social media. It’s terrifying... - INVERИO
K: Can you start by telling us a little bit more about you, BLVSH and your background?
I: I am INVERИO, a DJ & producer based in Berlin (DE) & Kraków (PL).
I want to keep the focus on the music and not the identity, the face or the body behind the decks. That’s why I prefer to remain anonymous.
It is a protection and also... You don’t need to know how I look like to appreciate what I do.
I have a background in Fine Arts and Architecture. Back in the days I was also involved in music event planning and management. That was stressful but fun and rewarding. When you see a crowd at your event being happy and enjoying, it is just worth it.
This emotion and willingness to create something that would gather people, was the starting point of BLVSH.
In 2019, I was attending the Spoon sessions in Berlin. (Spoon is a DJ workspace for women, trans and non-binary people, that offers open decks for DJs, who are also vinyl lovers.) That’s where I met the people who would become the BLVSH crew: Naivblu, Hripsime & AcidFinky. BLVSH (pronounced |blʌʃ|) is the idea blossoming, blooming, coming to life.
We are an all-womxn DJ & producer collective creating a platform to increase the visibility of womxn, trans and non-binary artists in a still very male-dominated music and clubbing scene. As mentioned before, we want to gather like-minded people, create exposure, create a network, peer support and promote new talents from our community.
I am very proud to say that we already published around 20 DJ sets/lives from all around the globe (Europe, Philippines, Israel, South America...) and we curated a room at the virtual venue COMMON by Currents.fm, within 6 months of being “live”. And so much more to come on 2021!
K: Why did you originally decide to move to Poland and why did you feel the need to go back a few months ago?
I: I moved to Poland in late 2016, for personal reasons.
I don’t have Polish roots, but somehow this country and the people I met, resonated with me. That’s why, even if I moved to Germany later on, I kept on going back to Poland regularly.
I am also passionate about History, Brutalist Architecture and... Pop Culture. I love weird details. And the Polish “ones” are very very rich and intense. When you start to dig in, it’s a ball of yarn: never ending, you always discover something new, something surprising, something weird. In 2017, some friends asked me to join them at the Czarny Protests (Black Protests) - against the Abortion Ban planned by the ruling government Law & Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość aka PiS), that were happening regularly in the center of Kraków. That’s actually how I got to know the real situation of Poland beneath its beautiful postcard cliché look.
To understand what’s going on now in the country you need understand the facts’ chronology. In the late 80’s, Poland got free from a communist regime. It became a democracy, with a heavy catholic identity (remember Pope John Paul the 2nd?) It also passed one of the stricter laws on abortion in all Europe.
Under this law, women were allowed to have an abortion only under 3 circumstances:
1- if the pregnancy was a threat to the health of the mother
2- if it was the result of incest or rape
3- if the foetus had severe and irreversible abnormalities.
The law remained untouched for around 30 years. In 2016, PiS started a process to eliminate all 3 legal paths to abortion. The legislation even suggested imprisoning (up to 5 years) women seeking abortions and doctors who would help them. They also planned to investigate miscarriages.
In reaction to this, thousands of women went protesting against the law: the Czarny Protests that would continue into 2017. Due to such big opposition, the legislation was withdrawn. But instead of giving up, the ruling party started to dismantle all the country’s constitutional and democratic tools that could stop them from passing the abortion ban (like the Constitutional Tribunal).
The final step was taken in 2020, on October 22nd with a new change to the law that would make the 3rd case for a legal abortion, unconstitutional and then logically forbidden. (The 3rd case - if the foetus had severe and irreversible abnormalities - is actually 98% of the abortions cases in Poland).
With the current pandemic at the center of all news, the new restrictive law on abortion was presented to the people, though an informal online livestream on the Net. What were they thinking? That no-one would see it? That’s why we HAD to go to the streets and protest. That was just vital.
K: Though the protests are being reported in the media, do you think this international exposure is impacting the situation and helping women being heard by the Polish government? Do you anticipate a change?
I: Being public in international media is a good thing: it spreads awareness and makes people think “Wait, what? For how long this has been ongoing in the EU without being noticed?” The government and the PiS party got scared by the protests, but it didn’t change anything for polish women: they are not listening.
And we all know that media coverage is very temporary and another breaking news will appear, and especially with the difficult Covid situation. I am pretty sure that most of the people already forgot about the Strajk Kobiet movement, as it disappeared from the news headlines.
K: Can you see an increased number of women engaged in the movement? Or, in contradiction, do you feel like the government is making it more difficult and dangerous for women to claim their rights?
I: These are the largest protests in Poland since the fall of Communism, gathering more than 100k people at once. Up-front are young women, because they are the most threatened by this new ruling. But I could see many other women in the streets: moms with their kids, grand-mothers with their daughters and grand-daughters.
Here you can see Babcia Kasia. She is an old lady from Warsaw, who has been seen in all protests carrying a rainbow totebag & going to a direct contact with the police. She got arrested several times. The fact that the young generation is very active on social medias, made it quite easy to organise and follow the protests on a daily basis (mostly via Telegram on the group “Solidarność naszą bronią” (Solidarity is our weapon)
Even if the government made it more difficult and sometimes dangerous for people to protest. Their orders to the police became more strict: fine the people and have no mercy. This implies use of physical violence, of gas spray and other weapons.
Within a few weeks, I could feel more and more tension among the crowd and a much more agressive behaviour of the police towards us.
At the beginning they were quite passive and letting us pacifically protest; but we ended a couple of week later, running from street to street (thanks to the Telegram channel, we knew where to go), to escape the police that was driving like crazy to block us everywhere, with dozens of vans. I was on my bike and I was told to remain with the ‘pack’ of other bikers and don’t be isolated (perfect target for the police), but at the same time to stay at the end of the protest, to create a buffer space that would protect the slowest walking protesters from the police vehicles.
K: What are the latest developments?
I: We are in the middle of winter, after Xmas and NYE period, Poland is completely under the snow... The number of protesters dramatically decreased, but end of January 2021: people are still protesting, fighting for their rights.
What happened in October shows that people aren’t blind anymore and they won’t be silenced. We are less, but we are still here.
You can see a lot of actions happening in Warsaw (blocking main roads, slowing down the traffic).
K: Which artists collectives are you joining forces with?
I: Unfortunately, starting a collaboration was quite difficult at that moment. After reaching out to a couple of artists, activists and collectives, I understood that starting a collaboration with a new person would be difficult for them. The situation was very tense, collectives were moving rapidly: no time to onboard new people. Everything was focused on organising impactful events, and fast.
But the most important collectives for me are: Strajk Kobiet, Aborcyjny Dream Team, Dziewuchy, Stop Bzdurom (a LGBTQIA collective) and music-wise Oramics.
I can mention the Techno Blockade that happened in Kraków on the 28.10.20, organised by the collective Pop Up Radio. Over 35k people gathered in front of the National Museum, to dance and protest with the sound of techno.
That reminded me of the Techno Protest of 2018 in Tbilisi (Georgia), where people went in front of the Parliament to protest after armed raids on techno clubs.
K: What was the most powerful activist act in your eyes?
I: It’s a simple one: go out and protest. Be loud, be heard, be seen.
I have to say that Polish have a great creativity in being heard and seen. The song from Eric Prydz “Call on me” was adapted to “Jebać PiS” that means literally “fuck PiS”, just a couple of days after the protests started (you can see it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=SxEiGXnr8AQ ) and sang in all protests.
Or people building cardboard, posters, scarecrow and more! To spread slogans with their own words, that was compiled in a book called “Kobiety delikatne jak bomby” (Women as delicate as bombs - ed. Firma Duch). People were trying to be funny while personal.
K: Can you share with us one testimony that resonated with you?
I: That’s very difficult to answer. I witnessed hard moment during the protests (mostly police brutality) and I heard a lot of things. But I would recall the story of a friend’s friend, that had to go abroad to get an abortion via a very secret network, following a strict protocol not to get caught. I won’t give any details, because I don’t want to endanger these people. But these stories, still happening in 2021, in Europe, it’s tragic. Nevertheless, I would recommend you to follow on Instagram, a couple of accounts: @strajk_kobiet / @zxlifeofmyownxz / @ratsagency / @oko.press
K: What can we do to help and contribute to making the situation better for Polish women?
I: Don’t forget them. Get informed. Spread awareness. Share about the topic. Protest in your country. Wear the Strajk Kobiet symbol (the red lightning bolt) & show it. Talk about Polish Women. Explain to your friends, your family, your community, what’s going on.
Until the situation isn’t improving we need to continue the fight! We have to be heard. Because “Solidarność naszą bronią”, the Solidarity is our weapon!
Thank you for having me.
FOLLOW INVERИO https://soundcloud.com/invernonrevni facebook.com/invernonrevni instagram.com/invernonrevni mixcloud.com/INVER%D0%98O FOLLOW BLVSH https://soundcloud.com/blvsh_collective https://www.facebook.com/ blvsh.berlin/ instagram.com/blvsh.berlin
To support directly the movement for women rights on the ground, you can do so by donating to any of the following organisations:
>> Ogólnopolski Strajk Kobiet (PL - the official group that started the Women’s strike back in 2016)
IBAN of the Foundation: Fundacji Ogólnopolski Strajk Kobiet: 10 1020 5242 0000 2302 0472 9663 (bank PKO BP SA) // (further info on their website)
>> Aborcyjny Dream Team (PL) - they are a family planning organisation
>> Dziewuchy BERLIN (DE) - mostly organising demos, actions & coordination of events
More info on other groups in their about section
>> Ciocia Basia (in Berlin - DE) - helping polish women to get an abortion in Berlin
>> Anja Rubik: https://sexed.pl/ // spreading awareness on sex education and related topics. (in Polish only)