+ Behind The Firewall > Situations

Curated by Karen Wong, programme coordinator of HTMlles festival, Canada

Past Transitions, Welcome to the Future? presents an interesting challenge. Indeed, one might say that women's relations with new technologies and digital culture remain almost always a question of transitions in face of the pursuit of possible futures encompassing bionic (smarter, stronger, faster) means of production, with half-lives that leave one breathless, whilst socio/geo-political infrastructures remain firmly implemented and dysfunctional.

Softspaces / Wetware
Prepositional situations - 'in', 'at', or 'by' - indicate a final location of action or a time of action.
The selected projects rethink the spatial dynamics and collaborative actions that technologies may now enhance. Action as a means of articulating space with real bodies moving through it, where bodies have historically meant relegation to the biological, with the female body remaining a terrain of contestation in its contingent dialogues with science and technology.
Locative media and wearable technologies erode the barriers of technological, biological and social proximities, bringing us closer to Star Trek's 'final frontier' of molecular disintegration and reintegration across physical, psychological and virtual spheres, with the anxieties, flux and risk that one may encounter in such transitions to beckoning futures.
How do electronically enhanced textures/grains of the constructed environment accommodate the variable hybridity of vital presences and spaces which provoke self-generating urban processes, new socio-political freedoms and dynamic routeings enhanced by these shadow networks? Can they create their own nets via liquid/streaming media with associative electronic projections within the public domain?
Or is this another socially engineered context of surveillance and control, facilitated by digitally administered and determined access/collective design - who, and for what reasons?

Points of contact / Triggers
The designs of public space belie implicit cultural ambitions, policies, and manipulations. Is the goal inclusive and democratic structures, where the design of choices creates an impression of freedom? How do new cultural geographies invested with trust (+ hope) converse with the transformative strategies of feminisms operating today? How will this be articulated in relation to women's security?
The artists in this exhibition represent differing strains and practices vis-r-vis technological utopias and fantasies. Each has a particular engagement and dialogue with the public sphere, be it within performative, social, geo-political dynamics, or otherwise. The importance lies in the investment in action as a means to critique, expose and counter insidious systems that underlie our ever-increasingly flattened realities, themselves made complex by gendered, economic, and racialised problematics.
Commenting on the consumptive aspects of planetary organ trade, Shilpa Gupta strips away the glossy veneer of scientific progress, where 'foreign aid' and the global flow of capital are witness to an eerie inversion of haves and have-nots. Tamara Vukov delves into the 'art of war', where a mastery of representation and dissimulation has become the defining feature of strategic military manoeuvres and the high stakes of information wars. Highly advanced electro-geometric materials, which enable decryption (seeing) and insubstantiality, vaporise the frontiers between fiction and reality, literally modifying landscapes in their wake. Mara Verna equally underscores the sticky issues of borders, orchestrating on a human scale incessant negotiations of physical and psychological alterities which may trigger emotive precarities based in territorial ethnicities, histories, and diasporic public spheres.


Date and time of event: 
Oct 01st - Oct 22nd
Place of event: 
Škuc Gallery