Session Proposal: The Un-gendering of the Artist in Today’s Social Networks

How are today’s artists navigating the social networks as un-gendered creative beings?  Does this un-gendered cyberspace approach serve as an opening to new artists being given exhibitions without the stigma of a gallery trying to fill its shows by weighting male and female work in the space?  Are artists experiencing more freedom in their work by not being tied to a gendered viewing (there was a time, for a simple example, when male artists made very large paintings and women were deemed less of an artist if they did not compete in the same scale)?

Not only do the social networks create an un-gendered persona but it also allows information to be shared more freely then it has in the past.  And this freedom is unconcerned with gender – if you can watch the how-to video, then you can probably complete the task – there is no “you can only accomplish this task if you are a female” kind of limitation imposed.  Hence, artists today are learning on a much more broad scale, and the work is becoming less discernible in terms of gender (both in terms of the work itself as well as the hand that created it).

What does this mean for the future of the practicing artist?  What will the qualifications be to determine worthiness of show exhibition?  In the scheme of all things art historical, there has always been a gendered viewing of art work,  the artist’s hand from which the work was created, and the spectator of the work.  Without this historical starting point, the contemporary art world will have to find a new stance from which to approach works of art, perhaps even a new vocabulary from which the next generation of artists and society might re-fashion the history of art and the artist.


Categories: General |

2 Responses to Session Proposal: The Un-gendering of the Artist in Today’s Social Networks

  1. Laura Zaylea says:

    A few notes from the “Un-gendering The Artist” session…
    Session designed & facilitated by Jennifer Rarick.

    Core Questions: Now that artists don’t have to go to physical galleries or have physical studio visits to promote their work to galleries, will using online spaces instead of these traditional physical modes allow freedom from gender bias?
    – Do new digital tools (ie, youtube training videos) allow artists to cross/transgress gender lines/stereotypes/expectations/assumptions more easily?
    – How will gender be represented in future digital archives? Also, how might past work be re-thought based on this (re-working of historical language? Building current language?)

    Discussion: Gender & the concept of archiving & labeling…
    → What are the choices for the “gender box”? (Is it ONLY male/female?)
    → Is there freedom in an “uncategorized” category? (…but how do we search that?!)
    → Using “tags” to get around this (oh, the possibilities & difficulties of finding the right tags…!)
    → Artist statements: A way to avoid check-box labels?
    → The role/responsibility of the curator in respecting the artist’s (gender) representation
    → Gender of the artist; “gender” of the artwork
    → Categorizing as a way to discover something new – discussion about netflix categories – when labels/tags are helpful…
    → The problem of relying on language to do categorization for things that are not words (ie, visual or sound art). Exploring: Google Image Search; Sound (copyright + google/youtube); Shazam; Spotify

    Suggested Article: “My TiVo Thinks I’m Gay”

    – Separately, each person draws a picture.
    – Together, we all look at each image & try to categorize it: Was it drawn by a male, by a female, or is it uncategorizable in this way?

    Game Results:
    – We guessed that 3 of the images were drawn by men – It turns out, all 3 of them were drawn by women!
    – We guessed that 5 images were drawn by women. It turns out: Three were drawn by men & 2 were drawn by women
    – We placed one image in the “uncategorized” category. It was drawn by a man.
    (There are 9 of us in the room; the group is approximately ½ male & ½ female.)
    So, this means we guessed 2 images right & 7 wrong!

    Discussion during the game:
    (1) Will anyone try to trick the system & intentionally draw for/against a gendered reading? …
    (2) What factors do we use to assess gender? Are any of them relevant/accurate?
    (3) This is hard! And it’s awkward, b/c many of the people in this room generally resist this type of categorizing! It’s a great activity because of this – brings up some questions/assumptions & challenges us!

    Game #2: A combination of “telephone” & “Pictionary”
    Focused on a gender & technology theme
    Results: Surprising!

    Thanks for designing & facilitating a great session, Jennifer!

  2. The session has given me a lot to rethink in terms of classifications used for archival purposes. Additionally there were several conversations that arose – and some activities – to spark the thinking behind how things are categorized. I will be posting some of the work that evolved from the session. Thank you to all participants!

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