Not long ago I wrote an article celebrating the work being done by cyberfeminist collective Deep Lab. In a post-Snowden world that’s seen few legal or structural changes since the first leaks, and one that’s filled with male-dominated tech conferences that sound more like advertising than critical discussion, I still consider Deep Lab’s work to be invaluable.
However, after the piece was published, Dorothy Santos — a writer, curator, and friend who’s currently organizing an exhibition on privacy and surveillance and their relationship to gentrification in the Bay Area — wrote to me to express concerns about the lack of women of color (WOC) and queer or trans women of color (QTWOC) artists in Deep Lab. She questioned why I didn’t discuss that lack of representation in my article.
With Santos’s encouragement, I decided it would be valuable to do a follow-up piece and include perspectives from WOC and QTWOC artists and writers regarding Deep Lab, new media and technology-based art, and representation. We emailed a small questionnaire to 20 such women. Seven responded, and their comments are featured below along with Santos’s own answers. We encourage any WOC/QTWOC readers to comment on this article or email to share your perspectives. As Deep Lab continues its work in 2015, with exciting partnerships with the MIT Media Laboratory and NEW INC, we hope these voices will be taken into account.
* * *
How do you feel about the overrepresentation of whiteness in media, especially in projects such as Deep Lab, which seeks to nurture radical and marginalized voices?
Dorothy Santos (DS): I feel a strong sense of frustration, but I am resigned to the lack of representation. The second part of the question is tricky: If radical and marginalized voices were meant to be a part of the conversation, why was the group specifically hand-picked? Why not allow women to have a seat at the table and join the conversation? It becomes challenging when WOC and QTWOC are exchanging and sharing knowledge only among themselves — the situation becomes circular. The internet certainly allows for groups to engage in global conversations, but the fact remains that a “congress of cyberfeminist[s]” comprised of predominantly cis white women discussing issues of privacy, surveillance, new media, and digital art at a prestigious university doesn’t exactly help the communities that become the subjects of their discussions. It can be isolating to women in search of this type of (necessary) dialogue.
I acknowledge that everything can’t be covered in a mere week. For the record, the work produced by Deep Lab, from the recordings available on YouTube to the anthology, is invaluable and necessary. It is deeply impactful and influential. Yet I cannot help but perceive this work as being done in an insular manner that presents a highly privileged perspective.
Anonymous #1: It has always appeared that white people are more recognized for these positions, to speak neutrally about social issues to mainstream audiences. And white people are more often granted the power and opportunity and time to work in those places. This has been the norm throughout my education, and it makes predominantly non-white or visible minority groups who work with technology appear less interesting to white audiences, who might not be able to take into account the culturally specific and identity-related needs of marginalized people.
Anuradha Vikram (AV), educator, writer, curator at 18th Street Arts Center: I think projects like Deep Lab reflect the limited access to new technologies and media representation offered to people of color. It’s advantageous for them to reach out to more women of color for inclusion, certainly. Women of color have different and necessary perspectives on questions of surveillance, criminalization, and embodiment that need to be represented. It’s not fair to call them an exclusively white collective, though — they are underrepresented with respect to WOC but not totally unrepresented. Equally problematic is our overemphasis on American technologists when much of the most interesting work in this area is being done in places where technology is transforming economics and culture such as China, India, Brazil.
Anonymous #2: Whatever bias and discrimination that is perpetuated on the internet is purely imposed from the real world.
That being said, when I first discovered Deep Lab, I did not take into account or really notice their whiteness. I see a group of strong females coming together to voice their opinions and push for gender equality.
I only briefly went through the Deep Lab manifesto, but from what I’ve gathered, they address issues that concern people globally, regardless of race and gender. Deep Lab is in an infantile state, so there is much potential for growth for WOC and QTWOC.
Briefly describe the barriers you face within a new media art and technology framework as a WOC or QTWOC.
Jennifer Chan (JC), School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Girl Develop It Chicago, Dorkbot Chicago, new media and digital artist: Assumption I am not the professor but the TA or another student in a classroom environment.
American male freshman student making fun of my technical instruction, Canadian accent, and teaching in class.
A white gay art critic who has written for Artforum and Art in America openly questioned that I didn’t make my own work at my first solo exhibition, then slammed my exhibition on Yelp and later tagged me multiple times on Twitter to tell me my feminist ideas were stupid.
People not knowing the artist was me at my own exhibition.
People not acknowledging my work or presence.
First IRL meeting of The Jogging resulted in them drunkenly berating me for being “egotistical and maniacal” for writing “Why Are There No Great Women Net Artists?”
Art critics and peers asking how old I am on first meeting.
In-jokes and technical language at startups make social space seem inaccessible and alienating.
AV: No access to funding, which means no possibility of realizing projects at a scale that gets attention. No access to media representation. Expectation that everything I do is about “identity” such that I apply for curatorial positions that list new media art background as a desired skill and am told I don’t have relevant experience despite 10+ years working in this very space. Ageism is also a major problem, hiring 25-year-olds instead of 35-year-olds because 60-year-olds think they have a better handle on tech issues (when the younger generation sometimes has not yet figured out how to look beyond corporate priorities with respect to tech).
Laura Hyunjhee Kim (LHK), new media and digital artist: As a female working in the tech industry, I think there will always be a barrier as a woman (with or without color). Therefore, I oddly feel much more liberated within the context of art — most likely because many women have already worked hard to lay the groundwork! I think there are many women who build strong networks and communities within new media, but I have yet to encounter one driven by WOC or QTWOC (because these communities often get too exclusive).
Morehshin Allahyari (MA), new media and digital artist, educator, curator: I think in general the exclusion of non-Western ethnicities is a very common problem in the field of art and technology. So, as a Middle-Eastern artist, I have struggled, feeling isolated in the new media art scene, being frustrated with the white and specifically Western topics, exhibitions, articles, panels, etc that also happen to always be the bubble of the same 30 artists. Rarely are new or unknown faces or artists being introduced or brought into these communities. Even when it comes down to feminist issues and events focused on women, WOC are mostly excluded. Their bodies, concerns, daily life struggle are rarely taken seriously or included in a lot of these events and publications. So, Deep Lap falls into the same category — perhaps completely unconsciously, like so many other women-run organizations, exhibitions, or panels that happen to be all about white feminism.
Anonymous #2: Fortunately, I have not really felt any major barriers yet as a WOC. But the art and tech world is obviously dominated by white males — this is something I try not to worry too much about in my own art practice. I instinctually seek out strong female role models despite what is and is not publicized/recognized.
DS: During graduate school, reading critical theory and art criticism, the challenge was actually locating WOC and QTWOC within the work I was researching. What I found was the same dominant grouping of cis white men creating the digital tools and methodology. I also found myself deeply drawn to works that actually used technology to reveal deeper societal issues and made visible specific marginalized populations such as immigrants, indigenous people, and transgender people.
As I read through Garret Keizer’s book Privacy, I started to think about the different ways that underrepresented and underserved communities fall prey to barriers that they don’t even know exist. It’s in large part due to the lack of knowledge around how contemporary mobile and digital technology serve specific purposes and ideologies. More concretely, data profiling and data inclusion are huge issues among low-income families and individuals that have few resources available to help them navigate digital spaces. More often than not, technology has a specific audience in mind. It’s certainly not for underserved communities unable to afford some of the very technology that ought to serve them. It becomes a vicious cycle.
But the barrier or challenge is not having opportunities readily available or having access to individuals that could help push things forward. What exactly does it tell me when I don’t see a larger number of women of color in groups such as Deep Lab? It tells me and other WOC that I’m not welcome and that I don’t have what it takes to be a part of this dialogue. There are some amazing groups and organizations, such as Black Girls Code, FemTechNet, and Liberating Ourselves Locally, that aim to level the playing field in terms of accessibility, resources, and opportunities.
I highly recommend reading this Bloomberg Business article by Sarah Frier and Peter Burrows that substantiates race and gender as a systemic problem. There are two tracks that WOC and QTWOC must deal with: 1) legitimization of knowledge, skills, and/or craft 2) gaining respect and acknowledgement of gender and ethnicity. Certain spaces, especially ones that are predominantly comprised of cis straight white men, can be extremely challenging to work and collaborate in.
Why is it important that we make sure these perspectives are included in the dialogue regarding new media and digital art?
Anonymous #1: If new media art is open, democratic, and inclusive of all voices, so to speak, then these perspectives should be included. Any history of new media art in textbooks has been written predominantly by white people who reinforce this micro-canon.
AV: The whole conversation about contemporary art should be focused on these issues. By segregating ourselves, we exclude ourselves from institutions and their support, and restrict ourselves to a conversation driven by engineering and VC rather than cultural/ethical concerns. Everyone should be talking about representation, as well as about privacy, civil rights, data access (and access, broadly speaking), and flows of information in the worlds of art and tech.
DS: It’s important to include WOC and QTWOC perspectives because it’s a downright methodology for dismantling the systems that continue to oppress. Whether it’s within economic, creative, social, or cultural frameworks, inclusivity is key to progress.
I see less and less divide today between the IRL/AFK self and digital self because so much of what we do also exists online. What are the implications of this for identity and its formation? I read an essay by scholar Emily Noelle Ignacio about the construction of the Filipino/Filipina identity on the internet that proved to be incredibly eye opening. Ignacio’s work covered how participants’ perceptions of a Filipina individual were reduced to patriarchal and stereotypical modes of being (i.e., docile partner/wife, domestic worker, objectified and subjected, sexual objects, etc.). We can also see these explorations of identity, race, and gender in the texts of scholar Juana Rodriguez, who has worked extensively on understanding the gendering of language in digital spaces for over a decade. There are also cybermythologies of oppressed and underrepresented people that cis white feminists may not be aware of, and I think this is what concerns me greatly. There are WOC and QTWOC scholars committed to researching these mythologies, but they also bear the burden of being engaged and legitimized as digital and intellectual laborers. Again, inclusivity is key because it really is the only way to achieve progress, for all women. All people.
Sofia Niazi, new media and digital artist, co-curator of OOMK: So many new jobs will require tech/coding/computing skills in the future, so it’s important that access to developing them is open to everyone and barriers are identified and removed as soon as possible.
MA: As a new media artist, my way of criticizing these issues is to actively participate in creating a more diverse environment when I’m asked to curate a show or organize an event or suggest other artists or solely “participate” in an event as an artist. I make sure that I invite women artists from different countries and ethnicities, and that my role is also helping the work of lesser-known WOC be seen and exhibited. As I have said before, the new media debate about technology is completely dominated by Western understanding, access, and use of these technologies. In my “In Mere Spaces All Things Are Side By Side” video, I specifically talk about this and how so much of the new media work about the internet comes from this position of privilege and access. Even glitch comes from having “the option for failure” — it’s a “privileged failure,” if you will. I like to think about this as a metaphor for so much of what we see and discuss in the world of digital media.
* * *
People of color and their organizations that we and our interviewees believe merit further exposure and involvement in collectives like Deep Lab:
Adrian Piper, Ana Cecilia Alvarez, An Xiao Mina, Anahita Hekmat, Andrea Crespo, Behnaz Farahi, Black Girls Code, Black Girl Tech, CAMP, Cao Fei, crystal am nelson, Elizabeth Travelslight, Fatima Al Qadiri, Gaby Cepeda, Geraldine Juarez, Germaine Koh, Hasan Elahi, Jenny Odell, Joanna Cheung, Julianne Aguilar, Latoya Allen, Lu Yang, Mailee Hung, Maria Fernandez, Micha Cardenas, Shawné Michaelain Holloway, Mona Kasra, Mounira Al Solh, Osman Khan, Raqs Media Collective, Sanaz Mazinani, Sarah Abu Abdallah, Sarah Wong, Seeta Gangadharan, Shaina Anand, Shawne Soraya Murray, Sona Safaei, Sougwen Chung, Susana Ruiz, Taeyoon Choi, Tricia Wang, Women in Technology, and Ying Miao.
Correction: The list at the end of this article was originally identified as featuring women of color rather than people of color. It has been fixed.
Saudi Arabia Announces $1M “Freedom of Expression” Art Award
Kanye West, Roman Polanski, and Carl Andre are among the shortlisted artists.
British Museum Offers Greece “Exclusive NFT” of the Parthenon Marbles
“With the power of blockchain technology, there will be no question who the real owner is,” said a British Museum spokesperson.
The Public Theater Explores the Hurricane Katrina Diaspora in shadow/land
Written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza and directed by Candis C. Jones, this lyrical meditation on legacy, erotic fugitivity, and self-determination is on view in NYC.
MoMA to Co-Curate Exhibition With NYPD
Arrest Me, Daddy hopes to cast a more positive light on the work of law enforcement officers.
Repatriation-Inspired Fragrance Line Hopes to Heal Collector Wounds
The exotic scents of the Rapatriement line offer solace and joy to dismayed collectors who were forced to return looted artifacts.
The Rubin Museum Presents Death Is Not the End
Tibetan Buddhist and Christian works of art made across 12 centuries explore death, the afterlife, and the desire to continue to exist. On view in NYC.
Mediocre Painting Thought AI-Generated Revealed as Work of Real Artist
Visitors who spoke to Hyperallergic said they were “horrified” to learn that a human could come up with such a banal and poorly executed artwork.
Prince Harry to Star in New Van Gogh Biopic
The estranged prince said he took the role to raise awareness of mental health issues.
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly
Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
Newly Discovered Trove of Vermeer Works Reveals He Painted Mainly Dogs
A cache of 243 paintings found in an English castle, all depicting canine subjects, suggests Vermeer’s true aspiration was to become a dog portraitist.
Vatican Partners With Balenciaga on “Spiritual” Menswear Line
A spokesperson for the church cited “shared values” with the fashion brand.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
Iran Issues Fatwa Against AI
A reinterpretation of the Quran through a queer lens, written by an AI chatbot, is said to cause the move.
Met Gala Announces 2023 “Looting and Plunder” Theme
Select A-list guests will be invited to wear any artifacts from the museum’s collection that have not yet been seized by the Manhattan DA’s office.
Than you for the conversation and especially thank you for the list of additional artists to look at. I have long talked about the hole in my education and my general media channels and it requires reminding and being exposed to artists I have not encountered to break that cycle as I bring inspiration to the next generation.
Thank you, Christopher. If you have favorite WOC and QTWOC artists and theorists, please feel free to share. Again, thank you for the comment and joining the conversation.
Like Christopher, as an educator, I am grateful for this article and particularly for the list. I wonder about Hasan Elahi and Taeyoon Choi being classified as WOC. I love both of their work and find it relevant to the discussion, but I’m not sure whether they would self identify as women. Wendy Chun and Hito Steryl might be worth considering in connection with these issues.
Justin, you’re right to point this out. To my knowledge, they do not identify as WOC or QTPOC. We compiled a list of POC (including men) as well to ensure readers had additional resources in addition to the WOC and QTWOC we listed. We should have clarified that and my sincerest apologies for the confusion.
Thank you for adding Chun and Steryl. They are fantastic!
Taeyoon Choi is male. So there’s that.
However, Shantell Martin is not: http://www.shantellmartin.com/
Honest question, why are people so comfortable using this ghettoizing term “people of colour”? As someone who could be classified as such I’d personally hate to be called this in public, it just has “social victim” written all over it. You don’t know me and I don’t know you, and I swear if some white “progressive” douche sipping his latte ever called me that I’d strangle him with his own scarf.
Everyone is different, and people get to choose how they define themselves, and it varies in different countries and regions.
It would be nice if this were true, however, once certain populist terms catch on there’s very little one can do to reclaim their own identity as an individual as opposed to come political statistic.
I can relate to pressure as well, but it doesn’t mean one has to conform to governmental or educational norms. Everywhere I’ve lived during my adult life (Canada, Lebanon, US) has tried to categorize me in a different way, both culturally, religiously, and otherwise. I eventually had to define how I would categorize myself independent of those norms. I don’t envy anyone’s journey in this regard.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this question. I’m actually glad that you brought it up. Language is tricky and, quite frankly, there was a time I didn’t really care for the designation of POC, WOC, QWOC. While it’s a categorization that definitely has its trappings (i.e., “white progressive” using the term in a blanket and insensitive way, etc.), I think it also depends on the intention.
You raised a good question (and point) and I can see why it’s upsetting especially within a historical context. The term “free person of color” was a designation originally used to describe African Americans around the 17th-18th century. Over time, the phrase evolved into describing all non-white people. Again, language is slippery and I think, now, more so than ever, it is imperative to have these discussions and evolve from them. But I believe whatever language we come up with, a phrase will never truly encapsulate someone’s being. I know, I’m saying everything and nothing at the same time. To reiterate, I’m glad you brought it up.
In even trying to answer your question and hold space for it, I found this NPR article I wanted to share. Again, many thanks for engaging. You, seriously, have me thinking how to best navigate around discussions related to race, gender, and class. Another good book, which has got me thinking about this topic is Jeff Chang’s Who We Be: The Colorization of America. He certainly touches upon pivotal historical moments when the multiculturalism movement was at both its lowest and highest points in American history.
Side note: The language of POC, WOC etc. is US-specific. That terminology is rarely if ever used in Europe, which is arguably a more important market for media art than the US due to the existence of arts funding, the festival model etc.
That’s not to say that the terminology is invalid or irrelevant. Sadly, I think it rather points to a systemic European reluctance to acknowledge post-colonial race issues, despite the current realities of multi-cultural “integration” etc.
That said, I have friends (of color) who violently reject these terms, finding them condescending, restrictive and reinforcing of outsider status. That’s anecdotal input, obviously, I would not presume to comment on that issue.
Great (side) note, Marius. I’m glad terminology was brought up in the discussion. But the idea of labeling and categorization is necessitated by infrastructures and cultural institutions for funding and admissions purposes. But you are correct, this seems far more US-specific.
The issue of acronyms to refer to humans is so problematic, but i understand is US specific and i understand why exists and is used in there, however this abstraction of language make it harder to relate to the actual experiences of what is consider the Other from the point of view of white culture. Add to that some percentages that quantify these terms when responding to critique make it even more abstract.
I understand why you listed some people at the end of the article but in my case i wasn’t really comfortable – it even to an extent make mad. This kind of exposure because assumes too much, like that 1) i am not involved with collectives exploring these kind of issues (which i am and i have been) from another perspectives, and 2) Why exactly “we deserve further exposure and involvement in collectives like Deep Lab?”. Reflexions about surveillance culture didn’t started post-snowden, the complexities of netpolitics have been explored through different political and artistic strategies way before this stage – yet crucial and in which DL has taken an important space.
Would have been cool to address why the work of Other women deserves the merit you mentioned, because when leveraging us in the context to your critique to DL, might look that our merit is not being white. Or the part about being involved in collectives like DL? There are different ideologies across netpolitics, is not that because a group reflects on very actual surveillance culture you necessarily identify with the politics and context of those reflections. What about agency? What if my interests are really not in line with the US netfreedom ideology or free speech and privacy as understood by the american constitution? Could it be that some of the merit suggested is precisely being involved in these issues in other ways and groups and contexts? There might not be that popular in dominant outlets of the web but that doesn’t mean we need to be part of what certain group that the ultra USAcentric discourse consider relevant.
Other women, groups and contexts still exist and been working, for a while, beyond the emergence of DL. So i understand it was in good faith and nice someone know my name (~and hopefully my actual work beyond the fact i am not white~) , but affirmative action can also produce alienation specially when is approached solely or heavily from the identity monocle, which is a huge trait of current white feminism.
Also i want to say that this idea that there is a lack of Other Women in “new” (still new working with information technology?) media art, is bullshit. All art is “and technology”, and every woman today working in this world, works with technology. So there a lot of “women in technology”, billions literally. But in the context of this article, i think that also the endless need to rarify the very common practice of using technology to make art, it adds to make it harder to see through.
Said that, i also agree with a lot of points made in this conversation and mostly cool you dedicate some space to not so easy topics that often go overlooked in conversations about art and feminism.
Geraldine, first, thank you so much for the incredibly thoughtful comments and questions. The piece has been generating a lot of good conversation and, naturally, provoking a lot of shifting in my mind about how to move forward with the these responses.
Acronyms, labeling, categorization, and any form of classification can be limiting. As you and Marius pointed out, conversations of racial/ethnic difference are amplified in the US. There are so many other related issues that one piece cannot cover. These problems can’t be solved over night or in one week and to re-iterate, I understand that this conversation is meant to be continued and expanded.
Regarding the list of individuals at the end of the piece, you raise a good point about assumptions and whether or not they wanted to be included. For the record, many of the individuals were contacted to participate (some accepted, while some respectfully declined) and most expressed gratitude for inclusion. But you make a great point about the choice of being identified as WOC/QTWOC and associated with the DL project. Issues such as privacy and surveillance have certainly been heavily researched and covered by associations such as Electronic Frontier Foundation as well as other organizations.
Another fascinating point in your critique/commentary was your suggestion of leveraging the context towards the “merit of not being white” and agency, which is why language, categorization, and difference can be tricky (if I understand you correctly). I agree, essentially. Some people believe in racial integration without being tethered to a type or types of identity. While others, myself included, embrace my difference as a queer Pinay/Filipina engaging in these conversations. It’s been rather uncomfortable for me to confront the implications of my family’s history, which in many ways are opposed to my politics re: freedom of speech, activist practices, and areas of study (especially when it comes to sex, gender, and identity politics). But those experiences and familial history contribute to my understanding of how I can be better at respecting and acknowledging difference. Perhaps, this is why Ben and I had lengthy conversations about the topic. That said, I’ve been definitely exploring other cultures and transnational feminism(s) in the past few years to improve and sharpen my understanding of these issues on a global scale (not easy, but learning as I go).
One of the groups that came to mind, which I don’t think I mentioned, but was influential in my research was the SubRosa project in the early 2000s. They’re definitely a group I looked at in terms of how re-imagining feminism.
Lastly, I wanted to address your comment around “new.” Language, yet again, fails us (I am reminded of “new aesthetics”). As one of my collaborators mentioned, computer/electronic/digital art has such a short history and genealogy in comparison to the traditional (fine) arts (i.e., painting, sculpture, textiles, etc.). We are tasked with creating the terminology and vernacular around these topics. I guess, at the end of the day, I want to be mindful of how we can progress and push the conversation(s) forward before we end up with hundreds of years of art history and criticism that negate, obscure, and neglect women and the multitude of difference that informs a lot of the work that has come long before us and will continue to be made.
Thanks again for the valuable feedback and questions. They are deeply appreciated.
Evelyn M. Hammonds wrote a great essay on this called the “New Technologies of Race” in “Processed Lives: Gender and Tech in Everyday Life” (1997)
and shout out to Sondra Perry, Mendi Obadike, Martine Syms!
More thanks! 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing, Kim. Excited to dig into this piece.
LAURA KIM! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Great article, much needed conversation! There are artists who may not identify with new media as their sole medium, but do work within it. Other WOC artists I’d like to add: Renee Green (Director of the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology), Kenya (Robinson) and Kamal Sinclair (of the “Question Bridge” project). How do we encourage more WOC artists to work with this medium?
Thanks for the raising the question and providing even more resources and artists working in the field, Qiana. I am compiling a list and gathering resources and will certainly share with others.
To answer your question, we all play a part in having these conversations within our different circles. It’s funny that you bring up Question Bridge because I wrote about that piece a few years ago and thought it was a great way to introduce and show inter-generational dialogue between African American men and boys (while I wish there were trans men included into the project – to my knowledge, there were no trans men, but I could be wrong).
Bottom line: Sharing experiences, resources, knowledge, and being critical. Pointing WOC artists to spaces and places that can actually help in pushing their work forward and in different directions.
In 2010, IBM sponsored my virtual 3D art exhibition. The theme was afrofuturism and two of the sub themes were surveillance and the cradle-to-prison pipeline. It was up for nearly two months and longer than expected. To date, no one has done anything like it in virtual worlds but there are a couple of projects by African American and Indigenous women that are new media art-related including Ayoka Chenzira’s “HERAdventure” and Skawennati Fragnito’s “AbTeC.”
All you have to do is look at a room and ask yourself, ‘Is this really diverse?’ As an African American woman artist with a PhD in Digital Media I am often the least likely to be invited to the table to talk about my work.
Nettrice, your response is needed for this conversation. Thank you for sharing. Your case certainly points to systemic issues in academia and the art world/community. Do you have documentation of your work available online? It would be great to discuss and correspond with you. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many of the links in this article are broken (Allahyari, Kim, Niazi), I think they need to be changed to start with “http://”.
Thank you for pointing that out—they’ve been fixed.
I am torn as an interdisciplinary + digital artist, woman who is latin american/hispanic.
I fear to pigeonhole myself, my art and my overall existence within any category that may reflect a victimized persona. Do I by doing so, inherently accept an absolutist codification that was imposed upon me at birth?
On the other hand, despite the fear of (as someone mentioned below), “ghettoizing” my self by accepting certain definitions, I am a product of whatever societal paradigms and outside forces came my way. From patriarchy, sexism, colonialism, racism, $$$$$$$$$$, etc. With this said, I often have to hang up my fear of ‘accepting’ and talk about these experiences to scrutinize disparities and continue a needed discourse about the bigger patterns and issues at hand.
Here are some links for the curious….
My MFA program: Digital and Interdisciplinary Arts Practice at City College, in which I currently attend. There are only 8 people in my year and they are all women.
*__* !! oh!! i super like your work!! thank you so much for sharing ~
Thanks! That’s very kind 🙂
Julie great points you raised and I appreciate you sharing your work. I looked through your portfolio and you certainly have quite a range of media in your practice. I’ll be in New York, but briefly, please feel free to connect. It would be lovely to learn more about your work and MFA experience. Many thanks again for engaging in the discussion.
Great Article. But let’s ask some other questions. Where are the young women of color in high school and college new media art programs? These numbers need to increase for there to be a larger representation in the greater art world.
This means working in the secondary and post-secondary systems to encourage young women of color. It also means working in communities where new media art is not especially discussed or valued so that parents see new media as a viable pursuit and worthy their support.
Last weekend, the organization I work closely with (Bay Area Society for Art & Activism) had a panel discussion on art, protest, and racial justice. One of the panelists, Ben Davis, author of 9.5 Theses on Art and Class made a direct correlation with the the underrepresented and underserved communities having very little access to programming that would allow them opportunities as artists, writers, and creative professionals due to their demographics.
He reminded the audience that we all need to re-imagine and take action in changing the world in order to affect change in the art world. This is true and there IS a direct correlation. It would be great to learn about high school teachers proactively having these conversations and helping re-define artistic tools and practices for their students. Many thanks for responding.
Like everyone else, I am grateful to see this article. I’ve followed the Deep Lab initiative, and I’ve personally come to worry a great deal about the Great White Narrative that dominates digital art. (The mainstream art world? Too depressing to even consider.)
There have always been great women media artists, whether in net art, interactive art, AV performance etc. Sadly, the field has a poor institutional memory, arguably reinforced by a lack of writing and mainstream attention. Hence most artists tend to pass out of general awareness if they become inactive for >5 years. (And let’s face it, most artists tend to quit or become busy elsewhere.)
Having been around this field since 1995, I could list quite a few women digital artists that are either white or Asian (along with a small number of queer / LGBT artists.) However, in that same time I have not had the privilege of seeing many women of color make an appearance. I won’t even try to reason why, but I acknowledge my own obvious (white, male, Europe-centric) bias.
I would love to see more diverse voices being heard. I’d also like to see an acknowledgment of the problems inherent in clever white dudes making clever, but ultimately reinforcing, comments on technology.
In particular, the current discussion around data and privacy suffers from solipsism and does not take into account the demographics that Big Data is most likely to impact negatively. (Hint: It’s not well-educated, white technocrats like myself.) To that end, Open Data collection and visualization has a lot to offer.
Obviously, this is a narrow focus that I’m personally invested in, and not necessarily relevant to this article. But I’m happy to see initiatives like Data & Society (http://www.datasociety.net/) answer this concern while clearly making an effort on diversity.
I only have two names to offer, off-hand:
Shantell Martin http://www.shantellmartin.com/
Auriea Harvey http://www.tale-of-tales.com/
If the question was expanded to include WOC in the larger field of art+tech startups and Maker culture, I could think of a few more names.
Getting a lot of great responses from email, Twitter, and here about this article Dorothy and I worked really on. I’m really pleased with the article and the discussion and thankful for Dorothy pushing me to this. My name is on the byline but she deserves most of the credit (and we are splitting the payment).
Two comments I want to address.
1. We did not intend to ignore the WOC in Deep Lab – who I personally respect a lot. I didn’t want to force the WOC in Deep Lab to speak for all WOC or be the token WOC in Deep Lab. Maybe Dorothy and I should have reached out to them or done something different. I don’t know what the right thing would have been. If the WOC in Deep Lab feel like I’ve abused/erased their high quality work, I’m truly sorry.
2. I absolutely did not want to presume or suggest the sexual orientation of any Deep Lab member in this article. Two people have felt like I did and this was very much not my intention. Again, if anyone in Deep Lab feels like their amazing and high quality work is being erased by this article, I’m so sorry for that. I still strongly believe in the first article I wrote about Deep Lab.
I only hope bringing other voices enriches this great project & the discussions around them (and many more to come). I don’t know what’s right and these are hard discussions and I’m excited we’re having them. Dorothy and I saw Deep Lab as a great project that was still growing and Dorothy saw space for it to grow and helped me see that too. We hope bringing in more voices is productive – they deserve to be listened to.
As someone noted on Twitter, at the end of this article there is a small list of names. As a curator and writer, I want that list to grow. I hope Hyperallergic or someone can work with me to make that list much bigger and serve as a helpful resource. Or maybe that list already exists? Let’s make it.
I mean this only as encouragement because the siege mentality stuff is painful to read and I think to experience as well.
“People not knowing the artist was me at my own exhibition.”
Is the default assumption that a room full of art is by a white man? Quite possibly. Would a room of big city millennials who choose to go to an art gallery in the year 2015 be in any way disappointed to learn the artist was an Asian woman? I doubt it.
If you want people to see who you are, you could put your photo on the flyer! If people are at your opening and you don’t know them, you could consider introducing yourself, asking them what they think of the work or say ‘thanks for coming, this is my stuff’. I mean, why not?
Forgive me for wading in..
Are you kidding me with this? Um, I offered some friendly advice. And I even apologized for giving it.
I’m not trying to ‘mansplain’ you, I’ve been at this longer than you have. I took you seriously enough to want to share with you.
“People not knowing the artist was me at my own exhibition.” is not a microaggression. If it’s something you already know how to deal with then why are you complaining about it?
It’s not about the artist making an introduction. It’s about a historic erasure of women and people of color. It’s about pervasive white maleness.
In the art world, a world where people still use terms like “non-white,” it’s problematic that people read whiteness as the norm. In the way that you are upset that Jen read your comment as condescending… artists of color are tired of being mis-read and/or overlooked.
“I took you seriously enough” is the most disgusting phrase. Try again. I’m not sure who you are, but behaving as if you deserve respect is a position of blind privilege. You come to an article wherein each artist — some who feel compelled to conceal their identity — touting your “experience” as if your story is more important than someone else’s. Check your privilege.
I’m sorry if it sounded condescending, I think like a professor sometimes. I understand what you are saying.
I wrote “I took you seriously enough” because:
A – Jennifer responded to me with a meme thing. That counts as not serious. So I was trying to say.. I really tried to think through what you wrote.. and you gave me a meme!
and B – Hi. I’ve seen conversations online where people in the art world online consider interacting with Jennifer Chan ridiculous. So that factored in as well.
I read Citizen! Ha. I am aware of my privilege and I work on keeping conscious of it.
I hope that you’re more generous with your students. Policing the ways that intersectioned people respond to their varied oppressions is in itself an oppressive act. I wish you the best in considering your privilege.
I’m not a professor. How was I being ungenerous? I’m a minority too. I’m not policing anything. How am I policing anything? I tried to write something thoughtful and I’m supposed to be stoked to get a meme!?
This is why the PC stuff can feel like a dead end. We’re fighting each other and I wanted to help.
Comments are closed.