It’s been 37 years since you received, opened, and discussed your last letter to the editor. Maybe it came from someone who felt encouraged and empowered, as I do now, 37 years after you published your last issue, when an era came to an end with your disappearance. I spent a long time thinking about what’s actually disappeared and what’s remained, and how we’re still facing similar problems and struggles. And I ultimately realized that much more remains than that which has vanished.
Courage itself archives countless voices, projects, and the power of solidarity not only in Berlin, but also beyond the city borders through its articles, ads, classifieds, artworks, notes, and letters. It documents the courage that it takes to start a project from scratch, one united by an inner drive to give every woman a voice and space. It archives the different work processes that took place behind the scenes while making the magazine, transparently outlining how it paid for itself, and what percentage of Courage was financed by ads or loans.
Courage became a space that temporarily created jobs, jobs where women could not only make a living, but also where they could be proud of being “Courage Women.” Its very pages represent the benefits of a collective way of working, but at the same time, a closer read of Courage’s history reveals how deeply power structures are rooted in all of us, and how they can undermine our attempts at lived utopias. At Courage, internal power structures, unpaid work, self-exploitation, lack of transparency, and division of labor ended up causing strife.
Courage is indeed an archive: From it, we can discover just how much we can learn today, and in the future, from the past—from the processes, projects, discussions, and thoughts inscribed in its black-and-white pages. Courage, what I’ve learned from you is that feminist periodicals shouldn’t disappear into archives. When we work with them, we not only learn from them, but we work together across the dimensions of time and space. We’re encouraged not to draw from hope, but instead to draw from the spirit of solidarity, from a tether extending from the past to the present, connecting us despite what problems we’re still fighting for or what year we’re in. What I learned from you is that each of us can be a “Courage Woman,” even if 37 years have passed.
All the best,
Klaudia Mazur is an experimental designer and researcher based in Düsseldorf originally born in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, Poland. Driven by a subversive approach, she researches and designs experimental interventions, tools, and collective structures to disrupt and challenge hierarchies and habits of design practice.