Reading the news story” The First Cyberfeminist International” made me aware of a new movement in contemporary art, post-Cyberfeminism (Elbaor “What Is Post-Cyberfeminism”).I was not even aware what Cyberfeminism is about and here was this article on post-Cyberfeminism. After reading the article, I got a good understanding of what Cyberfeminism was and how it has progressed to post-Cyberfeminism. I was surprised to find out that the term was coined by Sadie Plant way back in 1994.
The Cybernetic Culture Research Unit director in Britain, Plant used the word Cyberfeminism for the work of feminists who theorized, critiqued, and exploited the Internet. Cyberfeminists is not just limited to women involved in new technologies. The original inspiration for the Cyberfeminist movement is Donna Haraway as well as some other artists. It was interesting to know that the “The First Cyberfeminist International,” took place in 1997.
The aim of London’s Institute of Contemporary Art titled “Post-Cyberfeminist International” is to look at the past issues related to Cyberfeminism and thus gives rise to an innovative drive known as post-Cyberfeminism. The article gives a brief history of the movement, how the term came up and how The First Cyberfeminist International coalition of Cyberfeminists was founded in 1997 in Berlin. Post-Cyberfeminism developed because Cyberfeminism was getting lost in contemporary art and losing its luster. Today, several artists are involved with the field of Post-Cyberfeminism. I was curious to know about those artists and their works such as Ain Bailey, Anaïs Duplan, Mary Maggic and Cornelia Sollfrank, Zadie Xa and more. I agree with what the artist Sollfrank has to say about the urgency of re-visiting Cyberfeminism as the social and political conditions of today are very different from those that existed two decades ago. Another artist Sin opines that Sin that the history of feminist art and Cyberfeminism is not taught in the curriculum. The news article gave plenty of food for thought and how digital tools can be harnessed for women’s empowerment as well as for their exploitation.
In a way, Post-Cyberfeminism keeps a check on the technological abuses of power. Once again, issues of feminism can be seen arising in the world of digital technologies. Technology is being seen here as a social phenomenon and artists suggest new trajectories for the social relations, using the unexplored opportunities of digital technologies. I looked at the work of some of the artists working in this field today. For example, “Narrative Reflections on Looking” introspects the experience of identifying with images and the dynamics of looking at them. Her work questions the creation of those images and how they can be aligned with the ideal images of femininity. Her work deals with the space of desire and the visuals in our mind. The images of a woman wearing heavy makeup and garish clothing make you wonder if this is what the society wants to look at.
Or those images remain alive just in their minds? I looked at the work of other artists such as Mary Maggic. The artwork looked like bio-art or art-science. The image looks one of confusion and chaos. In a way, it reflects the chaos going around us, in our body and minds.
Those images show how we are turning the landscape into an unfamiliar terrain and might become aliens one day. The performance piece of Zadie Xa, Mood Rings is a mix of visions of distant cosmos, changes, and hysteria. Tebita Rezaire’s Peaceful Warrior tackles the matrix of identity, sexuality, and spirituality. The work motivates people of color to connect to their traditional wisdom and philosophies. Her work based on videos explores the power dynamics and the impact of domination on the body, mind, and identity. It motivates one to build a spiritual community where there are freedom and equality.
These artists use the new technologies to create their images and visions. One can see the queer possibilities in digital art and cyber world. The different media give an intense expression to the developing position of cyberfeminism. The artists are looking at this as an opportunity to disturb the patriarchal norms of the society. The new techniques are generating new space, freedom, and versions.
It is creating more space for the artists to explore and inhabit. As I had little knowledge about cyberfeminism, I decided to dig more information on the topic. Another article spoke about how Cyberfeminism has covered a long journey and was getting old. It discusses the shift of Cyberfeminism to PostCyberfeminism, which demands one to be visible and productive, or they risk getting obsolete and invisible. Post-Cyber Feminist International has very few answers but more questions (Walsh “Post-Cyber Feminist International”). It is evident that journey of cyberfeminism that began two decades ago has brought it to PostCyberfeminism. Cyberfeminism had to occur after all the older feminist artists were likely to explore the web and look for new means of art and expressions in the virtual medium. Cyberfeminism has moved through the realms of art, genders, and politics.
Today, one lives in a world that was perhaps unimagined by the cyberfeminists of the older times. Thus, PostCyberfeminism will rely on how these artists can keep pace with the technological advances and be ready to adapt to any future developments. Cyber Feminism shows that women are as good as men with technologies. I think gender justice would prevail if both the sexes keep pace with the speedy digital developments.
Today, feminists continue to use the web as their tool for connecting women and overcome racial and gender inequalities and discuss those issues. Technology is indeed seen as a convenient platform to reach people. The virtual world doesn’t see your color, sex or age.
In fact, it is neutral to both genders. However, the society doesn’t see the equality in genders, and there is a general notion that women are not as good as men with technology. Technology filed has been ruled by men for men, and Cyberfeminism, as well as Post Cyberfeminism, is the way of breaking the notion.
One can say that Cyberfeminism shows the bond between technology and feminism. It had to be created because of the widely prevailing “Cyber Chauvinism.” Someone had to interrogate the biases rooted in the cyberspace and hence the Cyberfeminism.
Cyber Chauvinism needs to make no effort. It exists naturally and easily, with no questions raised. Now that Cyberfeminism has made way for Post Cyberfeminism, what next? I feel that Cyberfeminists need to examine their political, and aesthetic strategies of the past and see which elements could be repurposed effectively for today. After all, there must be a vast range and amount of debates, and practices about the digital culture and gender. Gendered challenges continue to thrive, and there is still so much to do and know about living in the virtual world.
The advocates of the movement need to be bolder and unites as they explore the connection of feminism with other technologies. It could be another field of technology where they need to make their presence felt and confront the gender discrimination. Post Cyberfeminists need to be more vigilant and active than before to ensure self-expression and gender self-identification.
It means challenging the current systems and making new pathways. Cyberfeminists are getting old, and the most critical task for post cyberfeminists is to keep the movement alive by spreading their connectivity and making their presence felt.