Theme 2021/22

Wired Women*: Bridging the Digital Gender Divide 

Under the theme ‘Wired Women*’, NEoN will look to address the digital gender divide and highlight the contribution of female and nonbinary artists in shaping the digital and technology-driven arts sector. Over the next 18 months, NEoN will deliver its pop-up programme and a 4-day festival, both being a hybrid mix of online and physical exhibitions, interventions, performances and talks celebrating new and past works by women and nonbinary artists. 

* Inclusive of Trans and Intersex women, as well as non-binary and gender fluid people who are comfortable in a space that centres the experience of women.

Festival & Pop-up Programme 2021/22

In 2021/22, NEoN will invite female and nonbinary artists from across the world to investigate how we can bridge the digital gender divide in today’s world, how to connect our communities better and highlight the contribution of female, non-binary artists and technologists in shaping our digital and technology-driven lives. 

‘Wired Women*’ is inspired by the book of the same name by Lynn Cherny. Written in 1996, it is a collection of essays written by women looking at what women were doing on the internet. As today it reflected the complexities of our society, with just about every topic talked about; love, relationships, censorship, gender, including its hostilities. Sadly 24 years on, the anonymous online hostility still exists and is mostly directed at women. 

However, by using the Internet and its social media platforms, women can bring together mass groups and create a powerful voice for change. Nothing has illustrated this more than the #MeToo movement started in 2017, a social movement against sexual abuse and harassment. And Black Lives Matter, a decentralised political and social movement protesting against incidents of police brutality and all racially motivated violence against black people. Feminist and black activist artists have always been at the forefront of raising public awareness of these issues. Today’s hashtag activism’ gives us an alternative form of visual representation that captures the prevalence of structural inequality.

In 2015 artist and biohacker Heather Dewey-Hagborg received an honourable mention in the Hybrid Arts category of Prix Ars Electronica 2015, the world’s most time-honoured media arts competition. However, after many hours of research, Dewey-Hagborg exposed the gender problem within this competition, highlighting that across Ars 29-year online archive, 9 out of 10 Golden Nica have been awarded to men. In protest, she began the social media campaign #KissMyArs in response to this inequality and to call out institutional disparities. 

We are very excited to be working with artist/curator Ailie Rutherford to help develop the programme and facilitate exploratory workshops. Well known for her work into exploring potential applications of new and emerging technologies within feminist and community currency, Rutherford launched the very successful project The People’s Bank of Govanhill. A long term social art project on feminist economics and community currency. A recurring feature of her work is the use of a playful and creative visual process to engage people in conversations about the social and economic landscape. Employing techniques such as printing blocks for mapping-making, performative and peripatetic work, sci-fi-style future visioning exercises and games, thinking of play as a means to radically re-imagine our collective future. Her recent work String Figures takes its title from techno-feminist Donna Haraway’s metaphor for the inextricable threads that connect us all. Co-created by Ailie Rutherford and Bettina Nissen, the collaborative software aims to visualise and build decentralised networks for activists founded on a principle of mutual care.

Digital transformations continue, and they will provide new avenues for empowerment, contributing to greater gender equality, giving all complete access to opportunities, greater access to knowledge and platforms for creativity. 

NEoN’s pop-up programme and our annual festival will be a hybrid mix of online and physical exhibitions, interventions, performances and talks celebrating works by women and nonbinary artists who address social, political and equality themes, alongside an active outreach programme for schools groups, families and community groups wanting to explore these themes. 

Festival dates: 10 - 13 November 2021 

Pop-up event will be advertised on our home page and on our social media channels

Our first event took place in May, Round the Virtaul Table. Over two days, invited artists, curators, and arts professionals working within digital and technology-driven arts will debate the future of the digital realm and the web.Read more about it here.

Image Credit: Computers Were Women, by Ailie Rutherford 
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