Enough With Dude-Centric Net Art Shows

by Paddy Johnson on April 17, 2012 · 245 comments Off Our Chest

From the Dotcom jpg promo

I’m getting tired of seeing listings for dude-dominated digital art shows. Just to count what I’ve seen in the last month: The USB Show, at Paris’s Le Point Éphémère two weeks ago, invited one woman artist to participate out of 21; Astral Projection Abduction Fantasy, which ran from February 23rd to March 23rd in Dublin, included three women out of 29 artists; and the April 12th BYOB show, in Milan, only included 9 women out of 42 invited artists. These shows might as well be Lilith Fair, though, relative to the worst recent offender, Dotcom, a show organized by the anonymous collective BSNP at the Centre d’Art Bastille in France. That group show runs through June 10th and includes no women at all.

Dotcom artist Sterling Crispin has little patience for those who dare to complain. “The gender conversation is so boring” he lamented on a recent Facebook thread, before reflecting a little, “maybe I’m a man and so I have the privilege of saying that, but seriously, come on, let’s get post gender”. He then suggested that the artists who choose to complain only stigmatise themselves as “women artists” rather than solving the issue.

Crispin subsequently deleted the Facebook thread—one hopes because he realized his response was probably more harmful than saying nothing at all—but he remains in the show. To the best of my knowledge, no artists refused to participate, which, frankly, reflects just as poorly on the participants as it does on the curator. As artist and curator Sally McKay explains:

As a curator in the 21st century, if I put together a show with all one gender (especially a large group show) I have to know that the show is therefore going to be about gender, whether I like it or not. If I do it by accident, then I am missing a big piece of what it is to be a curator. If I do it on purpose, then I have to own it in the curatorial premise of the exhibition. As an artist, if I am curated into an exhibition of all-women then I ask the curator, “Why all women? I don’t identify specifically as a female artist…what is this show really about? Maybe it’s not really the right context for my work.”

It’s important for male artists to be similarly sensitive about how their work is contextualized. Unless you’re an artist specifically working in the “dude art” genre, it’s best not to have your work identified by such an easy trope. Better-known participating artists like Michael Manning, Constant Dullaart, and Travess Smalley, in particular, could and should have made a point about this.

When artist Lorna Mills asked Hugo Scibetta, an artist who helped put the show together, about the curatorial decisions, he responded defensively. “We choosed [sic] those pieces because of the artworks and not because of the people and their sex,” he told her over Facebook. “This reaction makes me feel like you’re a frustrated person, I hope you are not.”

This unwillingness to accept the responsibility of curation is not becoming. These shows tell a story about the participants of net art; that half of them are left out means that the show is worthless as a historical document. These aren’t exhibitions organized around a conceit so tightly bound that the curator only has a few artists to choose from, they’re large group shows centered on a loose premise. There’s no reason or excuse for the disparity.

Gender equality doesn’t sideline art; we know that from the work of any number of digital art curators who manage to include women. Lauren Cornell at Rhizome and Lindsay Howard of 319 Scholes both consistently produce smart, gender-balanced exhibitions, and that track record isn’t an accident. It’s the result of a kind of professionalism that not only demands curators carefully consider how the content of a show may be received, but possess the self-awareness to make sure that happens.


gregorylent April 17, 2012 at 4:14 pm

how DO we get to beyond gender? what does that look like?

Lorna Mills April 17, 2012 at 5:08 pm

 It’s not about getting beyond gender, or even being sensitive to it,  it’s now about being alert.  In the real world, for the most part, the first thing we notice about someone is if they are male or female.

gregorylent April 17, 2012 at 6:08 pm

can we get to a point where gender makes no difference? if we notice them, then the answer seems, no.

Sterling Crispin April 17, 2012 at 7:58 pm

it IS about getting beyond gender

guest April 17, 2012 at 8:48 pm

how do you do that????????

Lorna Mills April 17, 2012 at 4:19 pm

In fairness to Hugo, my initial comment about the show was very very rude. (much ruder than any response he could make) (trust me)

That doesn’t change the weasel words about the organizers basing their choices on just the artworks.  I can easily demolish that argument, and I’m really tired of hearing that simple minded disingenuous non-defense.

Jennifer Chan April 17, 2012 at 6:06 pm

sometimes rudeness and radicalism visibilizes you more than eloquent political correctness.  🙂

Jennifer Chan April 17, 2012 at 4:31 pm

I wrote the curators a very sound letter. They did not reply. http://rrealcore.tumblr.com/post/20352582557/a-letter-of-consideration-to-the-curators-and 

Paddy Johnson April 17, 2012 at 5:13 pm

I hope they reply in this post. It would be good to hear from them. Their response thus far has been unimpressive to say the least. 

Jennifer Chan April 17, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Thank you thank you thank you for covering this. I agree we as a community enable this kind of all-male show to happen, so if any of them really cared  reckon they don’t have to pander to curatorial paternalism after they find out about who the other artists are, and actually boycott or pull out of the show or at least write a response. Of course that wouldn’t happen though… it’s every woman artist for themselves!

Paddy Johnson April 17, 2012 at 5:26 pm

I suspect these artists didn’t notice. It’s up to all of us to make sure these issues are fresh, so when this happens people do say something, but a little more proactive-ness wouldn’t hurt though. I have several male friends who won’t participate in shows like this and make it a point of knowing what the gender breakdown is. None of these artists work with digital mediums though.  

Jennifer Chan April 18, 2012 at 6:58 pm

I feel like every 3 years we’re going to have an outcry on ye old “gender distribution”, but what I really want to see is people writing about women, and women being in group+solo shows more,  and for people to actually being interested in those shows. We need a change of attitude really. The complaint of ghettoization goes hand in hand with the ongoing belief women-authored work or women as a group or category is not interesting. 

Rollin Leonard April 17, 2012 at 5:56 pm

I like that your comment addresses the community — I’m guilty for not recognizing myself as part of it! I lodged a small complaint about the nearly all-male show I was in, but I didn’t pull out in solidarity. I was assuaged by the apologetic response and the promise of future shows being more balanced. Seems like the curator in this instance only needed to gently have their consciousness raised about the issue.

I’m happy to see this featured in such a popular art news site, but Gaaawdddd I cringe at reading the quotes! Reminds me of all the words I’ve eaten.

Will Neibergall April 17, 2012 at 9:07 pm

“Curatorial paternalism”…what? it’d be one thing if oppression was actually happening. if we could say, with certainty, that female artists are being explicitly turned away from shows for their gender-focused work, THAT WOULD BE A  BAD THING. i have not seen any evidence provided by the author of this article or any commenters that this is happening, so it seems more “paternalistic” to be outwardly encouraging women to participate in new media art that they may not be interested in. seeing as art is a relatively ideology-free environment, it doesn’t make sense to me that a woman would find a problem getting shown if her work was as good as any male artist.

Will Brand April 17, 2012 at 9:28 pm

“i have not seen any evidence provided by the author of this article or any commenters that this is happening, so it seems more “paternalistic” to be outwardly encouraging women to participate in new media art that they may not be interested in. ”

Women aren’t interested in new media art? What about Rachel Greene, Christiane Paul, or Barbara London? Women curated the first shows of net art and continue to write most of the books about it. What about Lauren Cornell, Joanne McNeil, or (formerly) Ceci Moss, at Rhizome? Women are essential to the running of one of new media’s central nonprofits. What about Joan Heemskerk, of Jodi, or Olia Lialina? Female net artists were around at the beginning, just as much as they’re around now.

Girls like net art. To be honest, that surprised the hell out of me when I first started looking into it, but it’s true. They don’t need any encouragement, and I don’t think that’s what’s happening here.

“seeing as art is a relatively ideology-free environment, it doesn’t make sense to me that a woman would find a problem getting shown if her work was as good as any male artist.”

This is the part where you make an assumption to prove your point without bothering to see if that assumption is true. Art’s anything but ideology-free, and its ideology has been unquestionably masculine for essentially its entire history up til, like, 1980. Maybe. So we should keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t go back to being ass-backwards.

And yeah, it doesn’t make any sense that a woman would have a problem getting shown if her work were equal to a man’s. That’s why it’s weird that so many net art shows seem to have many more men than women; we wouldn’t expect that, given random chance and what we know about the number of female new media artists. So it’s worth asking why.

Jennifer Chan April 17, 2012 at 11:08 pm

I wrote this article about a year ago and I think I put quite a target on myself in terms of the very egalitarian young post-2.0 community, which was a spin off on Steve Dietz’ “Why are there no great net artists?” (yes we had this problem 20 years ago…) and Linda Nochlin’s “Why Are There No Great Women Artists?” (1974)  http://turbulence.org/blog/2011/06/14/why-are-there-no-great-women-net-artists/ it was originally on pooool.

The community didn’t really react to it because I called people (artists and curators) out on the under/misrepresentation of women. Gatekeepers probably have less to lose than an artist who decides to adopt feminist ideology.

There are obvious problems with forcefully tracing a comparative canonical history of women, but at that point I felt it was needed. 
In terms of a “feminine aesthetic”, the problem is that we are constantly valuating women’s work up against men’s and seeing how it fits into a largely male-authored artistic canon instead of accepting it to be a normative genre like AbEx or minimalism. This would be a contentious assumption anyway because that assumes there is such thing as a feminine/feminist aesthetic (a social construction anyway). I guess there are female-perspectives that are less present in art.

Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 6:35 pm

lol, i know women are interested in net art. they are extensively involved in it…not only does this not work in favor of your argument, but it’s not what i was saying. i feel like you definitely misread the argument i was trying to make. what i was saying is that we’re pressing curators to renounce the integrity of their project by going out of their way to include female net artists who may not fit with the general intention of their job.

also, what i was saying the intention of art is to place people in an ideologically free environment with which various experiments with consciousness and emotion can occur. i’d hate to pull a term out of sterling’s bag but i feel that net art in particular is highly “post gender” in that a lot of its most notable work draws from queer theory and the abandonment of overly conventional concepts of gender. 

also, net art shows are not as dominated by men as paddy points out. i think i’ve already posted on here a link to my post about it, where i noted a comment by nicholas o’brien highlighting the influence of a predominantly female group of curators and artists responsible for a lot of net art’s ‘image’ as it currently stands. sorry, but i honestly feel that paddy’s position has no legitimacy until someone gives us a reason to believe that curators are (perhaps unknowingly) making decisions based on sexism and patriarchy.

Martha Mccollough April 17, 2012 at 9:46 pm

seeing as art is a relatively ideology-free environment,

Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!! Gasp! Oh God, so funny!

Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 6:39 pm

i mean pre-fiat bro..when you walk into a gallery you aren’t supposed to have a PREDISPOSED ideology

make a real argument and we’ll talk

Ryder Ripps April 18, 2012 at 2:44 am

men have the vantage point of men, women have the vantage point of women. that being said, its important to try to not be myopic as a curator, its part of being a good curator and not a lazy curator. its an argument about human nature more than an argument about “net art”.. but i agree, this show doesnt seem like it was curated in a well rounded manner.

anntracy April 17, 2012 at 4:38 pm

WTF?  only an idiot male artist would say that….

Andrew Benson April 17, 2012 at 4:40 pm

 First, kudos to Paddy for taking up this subject.  Some amount of this pervasive misogyny in Net Art curation is an extension of that found within the specialized geek-cultures from which a lot of Net Art springs.  The fuzzy line between web developers, social media consultants, and curators, while democratizing, also means there are many entering into the dialogue who have little or no training in gender politics or even recent art history outside of the internet context.  To take an optimistic view, I hope that the larger audience for tech-based work forces online sexism into the light, and that there is a greater appreciation for these issues outside of the art dialog.

Paddy Johnson April 17, 2012 at 5:32 pm

I like to think you don’t need training in gender politics to be aware of gender gaps (if that’s even what you can call this), but that may be optimistic on my part. Certainly, you’re right to identify the dominate place of misogyny in geek-culture as part of the problem. Really, it’s everywhere, but much more strongly centered amongst the nerds. Sadly. 

Andrew Benson April 17, 2012 at 5:52 pm

 I’d like to believe you, but my experience shows me otherwise.  Like any form of systemic prejudice, it takes active education and awareness for it to be addressed.  You get negative and defensive reactions when you call these things out largely because the people involved don’t believe they are doing anything wrong, and don’t want to identify their own actions as being an expression of a prejudice they haven’t acknowledged.  There is massive systemic misogyny in the tech industry and technological education that goes all the way back to primary school, and is reflected in the spaces and tools people use, so people are simply living within a status quo.  Just like art provides an opportunity for us to have conversations about society that are uncomfortable difficult in other contexts, I hope that technology-based work, through introduction to a larger art community outside its safe white-male-dominated bubble, provides an opportunity to discuss and address the disparity of male-female representation within the tech context.

_mp_ April 17, 2012 at 5:38 pm

I think this analysis is pretty spot-on, particularly the point that much of this is symptomatic of mysogyny in computer cultures at large.  We see a similar conversation in fields like computer science (where there is a lot of talk and effort, at least in education, towards proselytization of females into a historically and culturally hostile discipline).

The hope for a ‘greater appreciation for these issues outside of the art dialog’ is crucial.  Latent internet mysogyny of various flavors is a hugely and concretely visible issue, notably in online forums of the less ‘social network’ variety and gaming communities.

As a sometimes-apathetic person with an inherent aversion to/low tolerance for one-liner ‘activist art’, I can appreciate that there is room (and a serious need) for thoughtful work that addresses this stuff in poignant ways.

Will Neibergall April 17, 2012 at 9:11 pm

provide one explicit occurance of “misogyny in net art curation” and we’ll talk

signasty April 17, 2012 at 10:12 pm

“You get negative and defensive reactions when you call these things out largely because the people involved don’t believe they are doing anything wrong, and don’t want to identify their own actions as being an expression of a prejudice they haven’t acknowledged.”
You are your own example, deal with it.

Questioning April 17, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Are half of net artists women? What statistics prove this?
Are all artists’ work described in this post of equal quality?From an art critical perspective, what about a show that features half women makes the show ‘better’ and how can one justify this notion without resorting to humanism as the end goal of art?  If a show is organized around a specific concept are curators more closely bound to finding people whose work fits that subject matter or finding a group who is equally represented among males and females?Is a blog post lamenting the lack of women in internet art shows as effective of a use of media as a post that points to a great, unknown female artist? To what degree do posts like this continue to divide artists according to gender binaries that have long been disputed?

Jennifer Chan April 17, 2012 at 6:04 pm

There are no statistics to prove half of “all” net artists are women but I don’t believe that’s a productive question. Because we exist and curators have the duty to do a little more research when they’re putting on survey shows of “emergent” (not populist! emergent!) forms of art.

also, what you mentioned as curatorial methodology is a very traditional idea of:
1) the curator-as-intellectual-aggregator who gathers artist to buttress their creative thesis
2) a weak universalism to say that you are only taking into account whether the art is “Good”–you mean good according to male-authored art history which informs our current ideas of contemporaneity?

Questioning April 17, 2012 at 6:23 pm

If the assertion that half of net artists are women isn’t true then how can one accurately say women are disproportionally under-represented? Do net art participants fall along exactly proportional lines of race, origin, and gender? Is the above question akin to asking that 1/3 of net art exhibitions in America feature Hispanic participants? What does it mean if there are more male net art participants than female? If that was the case then couldn’t one say that a show featuring equal numbers of males and females is a disproportionate under-representation of the male voice in net art? Should curators be made to uphold specific statistical measures of equality based on the gender breakdown of who is presently participating in the overall sphere of net art so to assure no one gender is inaccurately given exhibition opportunities? Where does one obtain this information and can you sign up as anything other than male or female? 

Zoe April 18, 2012 at 12:14 am

Exactly half of the American population is white gay men, which is why its been so easy for us to adopt and get married. 

Though, I think the white straight male voice is underrepresented in my pants and thats not quite fair. 

Ryder Ripps April 18, 2012 at 11:09 pm

“curating” in the age of the internet is retarded why are u giving curators any respect as if they even matter? 

Will Brand April 17, 2012 at 6:38 pm

I’ll go ahead and number these.

1: “Are half of net artists women? What statistics prove this?”

You and I both know that request for statistics is in bad faith. There isn’t a database of everyone who ever might be a net artist organized by gender, and there hasn’t been, and there won’t be.

Women are all over the place in net art, though, and while they’re not quite 50%, they’re pretty close. On, say, Computers Club, 9 of 20 artists are female. In the artists index of Christiane Paul’s “Digital Art”, which I just tallied up, about a third of the names are female. In the illustration notes for Rachel Greene’s “Internet Art”, the ratio’s more like 40:60. Whatever the exact number, it’s a whole lot closer to 50% than these shows would have you believe.

2: “If a show is organized around a specific concept are curators more closely bound to finding people whose work fits that subject matter or finding a group who is equally represented among males and females?”

Quoting from the post you’re commenting on: ‘These aren’t exhibitions organized around a conceit so tightly bound that the curator only has a few artists to choose from, they’re large group shows centered on a loose premise.’ I think you rightly hear this issue raised much less often with regard to tight, thematic shows, and much more often with regard to Biennials and big group shows. I think that’s about right.

3: “Are all artists’ work described in this post of equal quality?”

Never, but exhibitions are very rarely organized around the idea of the works being particularly good.

4: “From an art critical perspective, what about a show that features half women makes the show ‘better’ and how can one justify this notion without resorting to humanism as the end goal of art?”

I think this is a reasonable question, and I think it’s probably been argued in depth somewhere. Can anyone think of where? 

5: “Is a blog post lamenting the lack of women in internet art shows as effective of a use of media as a post that points to a great, unknown female artist?”

Probably not, but there aren’t that many “great, unknown female artists” to go around. There are, however, a whole lot of great, well-known ones, who’ve been active in their field for years, so we wrote a post about how weird it is that they seem to be getting excluded from shows lately.

6: “To what degree do posts like this continue to divide artists according to gender binaries that have long been disputed? ”

What’s the actual argument here? That, by our own logic, plus some of yours, people involved in net art should attempt to build a continuum more reflective of a range of gender identities and hormonal mixtures, and attempt to show only groupings of artists which are evenly weighted along that scale? We’re just saying that a group of about 40% of the net art community happen to not be in any of these shows, when the one really obvious thing they have in common is that they’re women. When a similar statement can be made for transgender net artists, I trust someone (maybe even us) will make it. Right now, that doesn’t happen to be the issue.

Anonymous April 17, 2012 at 5:40 pm

For the record, Lorna is “a frustrated person” some times…

… and that is why she is an invaluable voice in netart.

Nice coverage, Paddy!

sally April 17, 2012 at 6:03 pm

thanks for covering this issue Paddy.

If anyone wants a look at gender issues amongst online youngsters beyond
the artworld, try hanging out at shit reddit says
(http://www.reddit.com/r/shitredditsays) for an hour or two…or don’t.
it’s pretty bleak. Sometimes the comments are face-palm funny (I like
Jackass and the Dudesons and I have a high tolerance for stupid-guy
humour), but the overall picture that emerges is an exclusive,
male-dominated culture of people who support one another in making
supremely sexist remarks by accusing people who get upset of not being
able to take a joke. The subreddit exists because some people decided to
start calling out the crap and making fun of it…which is hopeful. But
in the context of that particular battle-ground, the term post-gender
is really laughable.

Rollin Leonard April 17, 2012 at 6:11 pm

The culture on reddit is depressing! shitredditsays and twoxchromosomes are rather tiny compared to the rest of the enormous, loud mass.

Aureliano Segundo April 17, 2012 at 6:26 pm

This post would have been better if it was about how good Emilie Gervais is doing, how much she shows, and how blinkingsite.com just got curated into the rhizome artbase.Which is not to say this post is bad. It just would have been better if it was about something positive.Criticism engenders antagonistic response. Positivity perpetuates positivity.

Lorna Mills April 17, 2012 at 6:35 pm

 I sing her praises far and wide, but I also invite her into projects…

sally April 17, 2012 at 7:14 pm

In fairness, I think Aureliano has curated her, and other women, as well. I’m all in favour of being the change you want to see, but sometimes some people also have to rock the boat a little. I appreciate the boat rockers- its not always an easy thing to do.

Lorna Mills April 17, 2012 at 10:58 pm

 Point taken.

Paddy Johnson April 17, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Ha! Do I prove your point by pointing out that you’re criticizing a criticism blog for being critical? 

The feedback is fine of course, and there’s certainly some merit to what you say, but sweeping the negative under the rug and lauding the good that remains isn’t a guarantee for a net positive outcome.  That’s not to say we don’t talk about what we like — we made a point of mentioning Lauren and Lindsay’s work because we think they deserves it — but we also think talking about problems is a good way to raise awareness about a problem specifically about the visibility you’re talking about. Why are there so many examples of women being excluded from shows they’re the most obvious choice for? I’d like to see if we, as a community, can work to do a better job about this. 

RM Vaughan April 17, 2012 at 6:37 pm

There are parallels (inexact, natch) with queer art. Most exhibitions that include art by queers use the old porn adage, the one that used to be applied to women of colour: one queer is exotic, two is a ghetto. But, like I said, these parallels are inexact — race, gender, sexuality do not factor in society in the same ways.

What intrigues me, however, is how curators who get caught with their blinders on always use the same reasoning: “my show is not about (fill in the blank — gender, race, sexuality, class)”. This is typically offered next to the refusal to acknowledge that an exhibition featuring all male artists (for instance) is inherently a show about maleness.

Curators who create such shows could at the very least own their premises. It would be refreshing, for once, to go to yet another 99% male, mostly white, almost all hetero show and here the curator say, “Yeah, dammit, this is a straight white guy show!” I could then hate on without having to have this discussion, again, again, again, again.

Lorna Mills April 17, 2012 at 7:13 pm

 At the very least, could we have exhibitions
titled: “Female Artists Did Not Fit the Vague Premise of this Show”.  I won’t
argue if the curators are howlingly funny.

RM Vaughan April 18, 2012 at 12:06 am

“and hear the curator say”

cripes, typing

Franco April 17, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Paddy, what are you doing to help other than complaining?

Anon April 17, 2012 at 6:54 pm
Donnadodsonartist April 17, 2012 at 7:09 pm

I see it more like, isn’t the point of being curated into an exhibition is that it is an opportunity to be considered in a context that is favorable to your work. There fore, I agree that the job of the curator is to search high and wide for artist that fall into their context, and award this opportunity to the best artists. If you’re going to argue there are no women net artists at this level of their career, then I would argue they are more deserving of this opportunity than male artists and therefore the opportunity should be awarded to more women artists in this genre than male artists. If there are fewer female net artists, proportionately, then that should be stated in the curatorial statement, that for some reason the culture of net art is geeky males, or tomboy females, etc… since art is about cultural values…

Paddy Johnson April 17, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Making people aware of a problem is neither complaining or dismissible. 

Sterling Crispin April 17, 2012 at 7:49 pm

I think raising awareness is a good thing but this is such a niche to me I’m a little shocked, was that USB show really a keystone in a historically monumental cultural movement? Probably not as you said, if you really think the show is worthless as a historical document than just ignore it yeah? I’m not saying its okay but there are bigger fish to fry.
Why not pick apart the Whitney BI or the New Museum TRI , have you gone gender hunting there yet? How about race? I think those are more dangerous places for inequality to be happening and without checking the numbers myself I can only guess its another disparity. I’m glad your fighting the good fight but maybe you’re aiming your gun in the wrong directions

The Voice of Reason April 18, 2012 at 1:00 am

That is a sophomoric assumption, Sterling.

Take a look at the Triennial artists list. The approximate 1:1 gender ratio is clear even at a quick glance. Curated by a woman as well.

Facts. They’re a great thing.

The Voice of Reason April 18, 2012 at 1:00 am

That is a sophomoric assumption, Sterling.

Take a look at the Triennial artists list. The approximate 1:1 gender ratio is clear even at a quick glance. Curated by a woman as well.

Facts. They’re a great thing.

Sterling Crispin April 17, 2012 at 7:28 pm

LOL  WOW – Way to demonize me! Slow day in the news or what? You’re blogging about a facebook comment thread that was active for five minutes, this is crazy and reads as absolute gossip. I didn’t curate the show why don’t you focus on the curator.

I’ll take the bullet after all this is raising awareness and generating some conversation, but come on.

For the record I agree that its sexist and strange, and I’m a proponent of gender equality and would consider myself a feminist. But my facebook wall isn’t the most ideal place for people to raise their complaints about it and that was my objection in the first place. I’ve had this conversation with Lorna in the past and I think its best to email the curator, or as Jennifer did, publicly blog about it.

You don’t need to go attacking the artists involved. Maybe I didn’t have patience for complaints, but leaving passive agressive comments on facebook toward all of the people who are included in the show doesn’t seem helpful, it just comes across as rude. Its not creating any real change and its not a solution.

I’m more than happy to be involved in a conversation thats geared toward generating solutions. So whats the solution?

Should I have dropped out of the exhibit because of gender inequality? Is that the bottom line here? 

I didn’t actually notice it was an all male show, I thought several of the artists were women until someone brought it up and I had to go googling to find out. I honestly thought Emilio Gomariz was a woman until that conversation. As Lonna said “the first thing we notice about someone is if they are male or female.”  Maybe face to face,…but not on the Internet. I’m still not really sure if Francoise Gamma is a man or a woman, or multiple people.

And I’ll stand by my statement, lets get post gender. 

I really do think we need to get “post gender” and get beyond it. Do I avoid reading artfagcity because Paddy is a woman? Of course not. Would I not read artfagcity if Paddy was transgender or queer? Obviously not, and she could be for all I know, I don’t care. It shouldn’t matter what genitalia you have or who you want to have sex with or what color your skin is. 

I agree with you all on the fundamental level of freedom and equality, I just don’t think getting aggressive with me on facebook and starting fights with me is a good way to reform institutional biases. 

Its all negative energy. For the record I apologized to Lorna and tried to figure out some kind of solution. I was debating about it to begin with because its something I care about, if I didn’t care I would have just ignored it.

Try to focus on what you can do to change things rather than just demonizing me, and focus on the curatorial team responsible for the show to begin with.

Lorna Mills April 17, 2012 at 7:47 pm

 For the record, you debated positions I’ve never taken. 

Sterling Crispin April 17, 2012 at 7:55 pm

I really felt like you were just starting a fight you didn’t want to finish and trolling for a reaction. You got a reaction from me and then bailed on a conversation that could have been fruitful so I deleted it. It was just negative energy to no end, and now I get to play the part of the white-male-devil when I support gender equality to begin with and was trying to find some solutions beyond bickering. 

Lorna Mills April 17, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Sterling stop making absolutely false assertions
about my positions on anything, anywhere and at any time.

Absis Minas April 18, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Pointing out a discrepancy isn’t trolling for a reaction. Posting the brutish equivalent of “oh well bitches, u mad, now deal with it,” is.

Aside from the fact that your shtick is clearly all about acting the part of oversensitive egomaniac, and grossly overexaggerating the criticisms other people play against you, no one (myself included) has ever tried to demonize you.

Dear Sterling,

Grow up.

Paddy Johnson April 17, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Hey Sterling,

The curators are quoted here too and obviously are offenders as the organizers of the show. You’re not the only one who caught flack here, though yes, you got more than other artists in the show because of a few poorly thought out comments you left on facebook. I get that that sucks, but there’s no reason it has to. Did you talk to the curators about why they chose all men? Did you tell them that made you uncomfortable? Based on your comments, I’m guessing that’s something you didn’t think to say because you didn’t notice that you were in a show of all men. 

Now, if you were in a room with the 12 participating artists, I’m guessing you’d notice the gender problem immediately. That’s not exactly what happens when you see a list of artist names but since most people have gendered names it’s also hard not to notice. There are 13 artists in that show. No one thought to say to the curators, “Hey, did you notice there’s not any women in this show? I’m not comfortable with that.”

Artists do not live at the whim of curators. Their career is built on how they contextualize their work and it’s their job to manage that. That means talking to curators when they don’t like the direction of a show and making sure their concerns are heard.  If that doesn’t happen, then yeah, you probably shouldn’t be in that show.

Sterling Crispin April 17, 2012 at 8:08 pm

I did in fact contact the curator but it was after the show was already open. I was invited to this show 5 or 6 days before it opened, I was in the middle of several other deadlines and emailed them a file. I didn’t slow down to take a hard look at the lineup and like I said I honestly thought Emilio was a woman.

I was told by another artist in the show that before the curation had finished the gender issue was raised, and several female artists were suggested to the curator, who then ignored them. Thats really a bad choice on their part. 

But its bad “journalism” to go shitting on me like this as if I’m the one to blame, its incredibly irresponsible on your part

Paddy Johnson April 17, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Good to hear you contacted the curators. That’s acting responsibly. Care to share what they told you? 

As for the rest, I’m sorry you didn’t come out smelling like roses here, but to respond by labeling the citation of actual quotes by actual participants in the show as bad or irresponsible journalism is to fundamentally misunderstand the profession. We do that so people’s own words represent their own beliefs. 

I never said you’re the one to blame and I don’t think anyone who read this post will come away thinking that.  You were not however very sensitive to problem, and that position is neither unique or helpful. 

Danny D April 18, 2012 at 9:50 pm

“As Lonna said “the first thing we notice about someone is if they are
male or female.”  Maybe face to face,…but not on the Internet.”

I’m on the fence about this whole thing, but I must say, that is a powerful observation. All these artists could actually be women, IDK any of them!

Nathan Maxwell Cann April 19, 2012 at 6:52 pm

“That’s acting responsibly.”

What are you his Mother?

You sure sit on a high horse lady for someone who trolls around Facebook for gossip.  You call yourself an art journalist?  How about discussing the actual art?  I don’t think a slythy tove trying make a buck on other people’s talent is the best role-model for women.  Stop playing the role of a victim and make a mark on the world other than a skidmark.

Paddy Johnson April 19, 2012 at 8:27 pm

A funny set of complaints I see from many of your male colleagues: “I agree with the post but this was bad journalism”, “The article went about making it’s point badly”, “Why doesn’t she write more posts about women artists”? Even if the complaints had merit, it would still be a way of avoiding the real issues brought up in this post. The number of women included in these shows is far too few. 

From you, I’ve read several frustrated complaints that run along the lines of “Where are the solutions?” as if one person will eventually find the key, and we’ll all be done. The fact of the matter is, we can’t provide a solution to anyone other than ourselves. So we can read this post and say, “Man, fuck her. I’m a feminist, but I’m not going to talk about this issue any more because it makes me feel like I’ve done something wrong”, and divert attention from the real issues, or we can forget that bullshit and say, “Hey, I’d like to participate in shows with more women in them, and I’m going to make that happen”. 

The latter is much more empowering. 

Andrew Benson April 18, 2012 at 3:55 am

Here’s the thing about this “post-gender” idea. I have to admit it is really getting under my skin. It’s a nice sentiment, but who gets to be post-gender in the post-gender world?  The plea to sweep difference under the rug reads as a privileged position, like “can’t you just get over it already, look at me I’m awesome”. When inequality exists, shutting another person up because you don’t want to feel guilty is a position of power.  Telling a woman that you are post-gender is saying “your experience of otherness isn’t valid to me so the conversation is over.” I don’t really believe this is what you actually feel or think, but you should know it’s how you are being read.  The fact remains that gender is a present issue in all areas of art and all professions, whether or not talking about it creates bad vibes or makes people uncomfortable.  Difference is important.  It’s a vital aspect of humanity that we are different.  There are a lot of differences that are beautiful, and we should acknowledge them and celebrate them.  Saying that you want everyone to be post-race or post-gender is basically saying you want to erase difference from the conversation, and that is a sort of equality that I find completely distasteful.  Without acknowledging the role that gender and power play in the world we can’t really approach an ideal of equality.  You can’t close your eyes and say “it’s okay, we’re all white straight males now post-unpleasantness” without pissing off the people who live with real and valid complaints IRL. 

Absis Minas April 18, 2012 at 6:54 pm

$90 says you’re pitying Paddy for the “dark head space” she inhabits.

Anonymous April 17, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Hmmm…I hit 43% in a general not-quite-net-art-centric screening without thinking about it. http://universalbackyardtheater.tumblr.com/post/21241195943/day-3-show-time. It not that hard folks.

sally April 17, 2012 at 8:13 pm

relevant! thanks for the link.

Will Neibergall April 17, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Obviously you don’t take the art very seriously if you find yourself standing in the middle of a show making calculations as to the gender makeup of the participants…

Will Neibergall April 17, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Also, I sincerely hope you realize that you are “queerizing” and making some repugnant assumptions about gender lines simply by demanding an expanded female presence in netart. You are saying “People feel, live and act differently if they have vaginas so they are just as important to new media art as men,” but this is assuming that A) recognizing that “vagina barrier” is something we have to tackle before we can enjoy new media art for being what it is, and B) transsexual/transgendered/gender neutral people are too “exotic”/queer to demand as readily as women, and the “best we can do” is to get the relatively heteronormative man/woman structure in art. The thing is, we can’t demand ANY person to diversify a field with their presence (especially something as spontaneous and voluntary as new media art) so what about we go back to the drawing board and just decide GOOD ART IS GOOD ART NO MATTER WHAT KIND OF CLOTHES SOMEONE LIKES TO WEAR AND WHAT THEY HAVE UNDER THEM

reeraw April 17, 2012 at 9:34 pm

i’m sry, but you lost me at “vagina barrier”.

ANJA MORGAN April 18, 2012 at 1:50 pm

ooooh snap! this is totally one of my favourite straw men arguments.  

look, dude: recognizing other-ness and putting some forethought into the deliberate inclusion of othered persons or groups actually isn’t marginalizing to those othered persons or groups.  (almost especially because the othered experience of those persons IS in fact different than those in power, and that it’s often looked over or not included because it makes those in power uncomfortable or guilty.)

being fetishy and tokenizing about it is crappy, as is “demanding” that folks participate for the sake of diversity, but if the only alternative to that to ignore the existence of patriarchal (and racist, and heteronormative, et al) structures and to suggest that they don’t exist, then i just give up. your “good art is good it doesn’t matter who made it” statement isn’t entirely invalid, but it’s worth questioning why the vast majority of what is accepted and celebrated as “good art” is made by, you know, straight white cisdudes.  which isn’t saying that whatever art they’re making ISN’T good. just — it’s not the only good art out there, and that’s insanely important to think about.

Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 6:31 pm

patriarchal, racist and heteronormative structures do exist, we can agree on that..but in what ways do these structures permeate the world of net art? this is what i have been asking everyone, and no one seems to be able to warrant it. the responses i’ve gotten are, “you are just frustrated because you don’t want to acknowledge your support of patriarchy” (fallacious) and “there’s no need to QUANTIFY sexism” but what i’m saying is that there is absolutely no distinct concept anyone is referring to that i could quantify. how are curators operating under a patriarchal paradigm? are they not just picking the art that fits with their intention? seeing as the world of net art is filled with female influence, i don’t think it would be too repugnant to say so.

“it’s not the only good art out there” – i totally agree, but i think the ‘good art’ that is being ignored is being ignored for reasons disassociated from gender

Jennifer Chan April 18, 2012 at 6:55 pm

What you’re saying implies aesthetics and art is a universal language, as a product removed from contextual components of its authors. I argue not because those agreements of aesthetics are culturally specific. 

Gender is just one way into looking at the way people treat each other as humans and that implicates a lot of other issues. Race is usually the first most  touchy topic and often people don’t think women’s issues are as important as racial or child abuse ones… but those discourses are not actually as separated as it seems. (Hence intersectionality being hot topic of feminism for the past 5 years or something.)

The_7th_Guest April 17, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Think Questioning nailed it.

Ryder Ripps April 17, 2012 at 8:42 pm

this article is retarded.

Will Brand April 17, 2012 at 8:56 pm


Ryder Ripps April 17, 2012 at 9:45 pm

because its binary, simple and sensationalist without substance.

derp April 18, 2012 at 12:35 am

ryder ripps you are out of your element

Peter Jacobson April 18, 2012 at 9:29 am

This was obviously something people felt worth considering and substantive. Are there really this few women in this space? 

Nicolas Sassoon April 17, 2012 at 8:45 pm

One note: Hugo is a 20 yrs old student in 2nd year of art
school and this was most likely his first experience in exhibition and
curation. He didn’t make the final curatorial decisions, I know he proposed
several female artists when the show was in its first stages because we talked
about it at the time. Finally,
he isn’t fluent in English, which probably didn’t help throughout the
conversation with Lorna.


I wasn’t aware of the final selection of artists until the
day before the opening, and I’m pretty sure it’s the same for all the artists participating.
Nevertheless I completely agree with the argument of this article.

Lorna Mills April 17, 2012 at 9:20 pm

 When I found out how young he was, as well as being a student, I felt like I throttled a puppy.

Will Brand April 17, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Did he? What does it mean to “nail it”? Can one “nail it” while ending every sentence in a question mark? Is this “nailing it”? Is this an experiment in “nailing it” using only questions?

the7thguest April 17, 2012 at 10:02 pm

1. Yes 2. to voice exactly what I was thinking as if one was hitting a nail into a wall 3.yes 4.no 5.don’t understand.  

_mp_ April 17, 2012 at 11:11 pm

brb registering the domain 4.no

Ryder Ripps April 17, 2012 at 9:25 pm


sally April 17, 2012 at 9:34 pm

I see the bro contingent has arrived

Username April 17, 2012 at 9:43 pm


Miles Ross April 17, 2012 at 9:48 pm

The real problem, one suspects, is the inherent inferiority of women and women artists.

Ryder Ripps April 17, 2012 at 9:52 pm

writing a critique on a marginalized group within a marginalized group is destructive towards both groups. sterling is a man, yes, men are at an unfair advantage in this society, but sterling also barely gets by and isnt supported from his art, in fact, net art doesnt really support any of the young artists who you mentioned in this article. so attempting to make an argument about the unfair representation of women within a group that is already poorly represented is petty and a quibble that brings us all down with it, men and women alike.  lets please figure out how to make great things together and allow those great things to support our life on this earth instead of putting each other down within this community. paddy, your roll as an art critique should be to critique art, not polarize the members of marginalized communities. why dont you focus on writing art critique which offers the world some insight, to help a movement and form grow.

Paddy Johnson April 17, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Net art is poorly represented, it’s true. That said, I don’t think poverty and unrepresentation within the larger field of fine art levels gender inequality issues.  Certainly, I don’t think our response should be not to discuss issues that matter, simply out of fear that differing opinions divide community.

Difference is how we work problems out. We debate, we talk about issues that are important to us, and based on those conversations we respond in the way that we think will best benefit the profession we work with in. I get that you don’t think this conversation was useful. That’s your opinion, and I respect it. That said, I also 100 percent disagree with it. Every time a post about gender representation gets written in the field of art, someone complains about how we’re not talking about what actually matters; art. Well, that’s just bullshit. Art isn’t made in isolation somewhere only to be birthed into the wild by some daring curator or writer. Art, exhibitions, writing, it all grows out of a community so we damn well better we make ours is healthy. Personally, I think one of the best ways to do that is to make sure our shows represent the diversity of voices out there. When that’s not happening, it is our job, as a community, to talk about how we can fix those problems. I think there’s been some productive discussion here, and I’ve also received emails from participants tonight saying they intend to find better ways of addressing this issue going forward. Given all this, you’ll forgive me if I don’t think this post was that destructive after all. 

Ryder Ripps April 17, 2012 at 10:54 pm

you are not making our community healthy, u are making it petty and vapid.

Ryder Ripps April 17, 2012 at 10:58 pm

if u wish to make an art community healthy – critique the content of its art, not the community – after all isnt that why people are supposedly reading your blog.. to learn about art.. and discover new insights through critique? the argument you put forth is not an insight into art, its a sociological argument at best and one that can deduce very little considering the absurdly small sample of people you are using.

Paddy Johnson April 18, 2012 at 12:23 am

This blog has always been community centered, so that’s not going to change. I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this. 

Paddy Johnson April 18, 2012 at 12:50 am

Just so we have a record of Ryder’s original comment, this is what was said before he edited it, and was what I responded to: 

if u wish to make an art community healthy – critique the content of its art, not the community – after all isnt that why people are supposedly reading your blog.. to learn about art.. and have discover new insights through critique? the argument you put forth is not an insight into art, its a sociological argument at best and one that can deduce very little considering the absurdly small sample of people you are using. 

Ryder Ripps April 18, 2012 at 9:13 pm

so then why dont you write about female net artists more? your blog is its own type of curation. 

Oxzqwh6cwq April 17, 2012 at 10:52 pm

Is this post ironic or are you really this naive?

Will Neibergall April 17, 2012 at 10:49 pm

i’m sry, but u lost me at being condescending for no reason

derp April 18, 2012 at 12:36 am

sowwy, u lost me at ‘im 15’

Will Neibergall April 18, 2012 at 1:43 am


J Remenchik April 18, 2012 at 7:05 pm

i’m sorry, but she actually had a good point and her words didn’t strike me as condescending at all.

Anonymous April 19, 2012 at 12:09 am

how is making fun of me using jargon not condescending? if i would have phrased it in a longer way she would have called me precocious (not that im not already lol)

Username April 17, 2012 at 10:51 pm

i demand a hand recount

jude April 17, 2012 at 10:54 pm

I think what u meant to say is.. Enough with Net Art Shows

George Michael Brower April 17, 2012 at 10:56 pm

Fact: You’ve failed as a curator unless the artists in your show represent a perfectly balanced microcosm of all races, creeds and genders as they are proportioned on Earth at large.

Lorna Mills April 17, 2012 at 11:02 pm

 No, re-read:

“As a curator in the 21st century, if I put together a show with all one
gender (especially a large group show) I have to know that the show is
therefore going to be about gender, whether I like it or not. If I do it
by accident, then I am missing a big piece of what it is to be a
curator. If I do it on purpose, then I have to own it in the curatorial
premise of the exhibition.”

George Michael Brower April 17, 2012 at 11:45 pm

just extrapolatin’ girlfriend. i think its entirely possible (and has probably happened many times in the 21st century) that an art show was all men and wasn’t about gender

George Michael Brower April 17, 2012 at 11:46 pm

some of em probably turned out okay too

Lorna Mills April 17, 2012 at 11:57 pm

 But my sweet lover-boy, they were.

George Michael Brower April 18, 2012 at 12:31 am

c’mon … all of them? like all of them? it can’t just be that the artists who created the work most pertinent to your show all turned out to be from the same gender?

i get the whole ‘art isn’t made in a vacuum’ bit, but underrepresentation of women in a fledgling scene does not equal misogyny and the author sort of eviscerates a lot of artists on inference. 

Sam Walker April 18, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Saying that a show entirely consisting of one gender makes the show about gender seems sexist to me. It implies that the artworks themselves are imprinted so completely by the gender of the creator that males and females are incapable of producing the same type of work.

sally April 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm

No it doesn’t imply that. The reason it is about gender is because any exhibitions that are publicized happen in public and not in private, exclusive clubs – including shows that involve the internet.

Your comment implies something which I don’t think you really mean, which is that it’s okay to only curate art by men because men’s work encompasses women’s work and therefore it’s not necessary to hear from women directly.

Paddy Johnson April 18, 2012 at 9:56 am

No one has said or implied this. 

David Munoz April 17, 2012 at 10:56 pm

why does it matter? there is a gross imbalance in the ratio of male to female cross-stitchers, but is that holding back their work?

Guest April 17, 2012 at 11:01 pm

A+ marketing. Would buy again.

Alexandra Gorczynski April 17, 2012 at 11:32 pm

I noticed the show had no female artists which I thought was strange, but I didn’t feel I wasn’t chosen to participate because I’m female. I’ve never felt that way.  I’m perfectly happy with the amount of shows I’m in and the reception to my work DESPITE being female ( lol ) and if I’m not asked to be in a show Ive always assumed it’s because they didn’t feel my work fit or maybe they just don’t like my work at all or maybe they think i’m dumb, but not because i’m a woman.  I’m not saying gender inequality doesn’t exist, it always will, from both parties and in all areas of life. I just dont let it affect me.

Nicholas Cueva April 17, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Very good.

Brian Metcalf April 18, 2012 at 12:11 am

Why has Mary Flanagan’s “Hyperbodies, Hyperknowledge: Women in Games, Women in Cyberpunk, and Strategies of Resistance” not been brought up yet?! omg my school work is actually relevant to things on the internet!

Zoe April 18, 2012 at 12:16 am

I’m a white female and I’m queer, of the middle class… should I go on. The fact of the matter is that these things about me don’t complicate the perception of what I do online unless otherwise openly noted. I don’t necessarily blame individual curators here for disparities as the entire history of art has tendencies toward representing a norm of white, straight maleness. When I was younger I was under the impression that Andy Warhol was a sexless sea cucumber, only to affirm later that historical representation in general, not just art history, often can ‘forget’ touchy ‘erroneous’ topics and erase queerness. These topics of difference/sameness enrich already apparent and dense art historical discussions as well as create new nuanced ones. When does an art show with queer artists become a show about queerness? Should it? When does a show with male artists become a show about art? When will it become imperative that we challenge normal dialogue? Perhaps ‘black lesbian art’ isn’t a hot topic, but thats our problem. 

So, why was sex the only disparity assumed within this article? 

Admin April 18, 2012 at 12:36 am

cool thread

derp April 18, 2012 at 12:39 am

Why does gender exist on the Internet?

Zoe April 18, 2012 at 1:05 am

My favorite frog avatar wonders the exact same thing.

Lorna Mills April 19, 2012 at 10:18 pm

 Frog porn for starters. (looking for some myself)

Lorna Mills April 19, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Porn for starters.

Faith Holland April 18, 2012 at 12:40 am

It’s really easy to make this an argument about quality, but the issue is actually about values.

Whether or not women are specifically making net art about gender (certainly sometimes they are and there’s a solid tradition of feminist net art), it’s still an issue that surrounds the work.  For example: Petra Cortright, Jennifer Chan, Krystal South, etc.–work that can be explicitly about gender, but also tends to involve it whether or not its addressed directly.

As has become painfully obvious from the responses on this blog as well as proliferating tweets, this conversation is deemed unacceptable by male net artists.  It’s retarded, it’s distracting from 420, exhibitions of all men will be launched in response, or of all women who are bangable (Art404: I could curate a huge show called “net art girls I have crushes on”).  So, if the same values expressed within this post “taint” the work of women net artists themselves (i.e. the work appears to be by a woman), of course they cannot be included in any show.

George Michael Brower April 18, 2012 at 8:15 pm

you just left a celebratory comment on an article bemoaning lack of diversity in a scene by making a statement that essentially asserts that all male net artists are emotionally stunted pot smokers

Faith Holland April 19, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I just pulled some quotes from Twitter.

Lorna Mills April 18, 2012 at 12:47 am

 Actually, I can’t complain about the amount of
shows I get either, and I’ve never thought or claimed that I personally was
rejected from a show due to my gender. (I can totally get why a curator wouldn’t
want my stuff.)  Not a problem, however the weirdness of seeing so many art
exhibitions lately with women totally missing cannot go unremarked. And it can’t
be dismissed with the statement that we should all be post-unpleasantness.  (I stole that phrase from Andrew

Art ≠ Fairness April 18, 2012 at 1:27 am

soon every art show will be required to have “bad art” because it exits in the community and thus should not be made to feel “left out”

Ryder Ripps April 18, 2012 at 1:49 am

are u post identity or just really this scared to sign in with your name?

Rene Abythe April 21, 2012 at 6:26 pm

was thinking about this comment while driving to walgreens earlier

Nick DeMarco April 18, 2012 at 2:11 am

Netart is so FUBU. We are lucky to be having any shows at all. It would be great to have lots of awesome girls and boys showing together, but 1:1 boy girl ratio doesn’t necessarily equal equality. This kind of a slap on the wrist to the curator belittles the whole thing. Also, who cares about netart.

Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 6:25 pm


ArtistDominic April 18, 2012 at 2:21 am

This is why Net Art will never work:

1. if yall could just punch each other in the face, it would be over already.

2. if yall could just hug it out bitch, it would be over already.

-neither option can be facilitated with computers in the way.

Max April 18, 2012 at 2:41 am

Did I miss when you defined what “dude art” was? What do you propose is the nature of one gender working in digital media vs another anyway? Maybe it is the theme behind the show more than underrepresentation that should be criticized? Could these curators just have boring or half-witted ideas and that is why the same group of people are constantly being exhibited?

Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 2:47 am

forced political correctness kills creativity.

Ryder Ripps April 18, 2012 at 2:59 am


sally April 18, 2012 at 5:33 pm

yes yes the terrible terrible force. Alas, if only young men on the internet were free to say whatever they want….

Max Blathe April 18, 2012 at 11:12 am

I don’t think any one is using pc language here… this environment is non-oppressive. 

ANJA MORGAN April 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm

but suggesting that diversity be recognized doesn’t.  nobody’s suggesting quotas or arbitrary requirements of what will absolve a show from being misogynist or racist or whatever here, just perhaps a bit of forethought and conversation. 

Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm

and a lack of diversity and variation won’t?

sally April 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm

I’m on a creative roll here, let’s see… I want to curate a show of internet art…who shall I put in it? Don’t stifle me now! I want to come up with the best possible idea for a show! What? Women? Augh! …creativity….stifled….

Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 4:10 pm

 I don’t really know how to express myself the best way here… I’ve typed and deleted a few paragraphs that used analogies because I saw that each one could be easily misconstrued.

But yes – an outside demand of quotas on something that should be put together with ONLY the art produced in mind (and please note that the art is genderless, ageless, and raceless) and not things like “not enough women ratio in this microcosm” makes the creativity and passion of the organizers do a nose dive.

some of my favourite net art is created by women… but NOT because they are women and NOT because someone says I should like it because my personal tastes should be ratioed in a gender balanced way.

sally April 18, 2012 at 4:30 pm

The internet fosters a lot of unreflective self-expression, and that’s truly a wonderful thing, but having to think about how your show might come across to other people besides yourself, in a context outside your immediate circles, is not exactly a big set back for most curators  – for a lot of people it’s actually kind of the whole entire point of curating. Being accountable for what you put out into the public sphere is challenging, and it should be.

Ryder Ripps April 18, 2012 at 7:11 pm

7/8 of my fav netartists are women.

ANJA MORGAN April 20, 2012 at 11:45 am

“i have a lot of black friends”  “my cousin is a lesbian” “i really like art made by xyz type of Marginalized Persons” statements come off as an attempt to absolve ones’ self of some sort of vague guilt, which is actually not the point.

if 7/8 of your favourite netartists are women then why are you so intent on shutting down what they think through snarky comments, or ignoring it/criticizing/invalidating it when women artists mention that they feel underrepresented or face more of a struggle in general than you do?

Julian C. Duron April 18, 2012 at 3:26 am

© This thread is officially Net Art — I appropriated this thread as art so it’s officially MY net art! Yayyy I own it!!!!!!!!!!!! Someone should put MY thread in an exhibition soon before net art is completely over. Be sure to put my name and medium (“Bullshit”) on the little white card next to the display.

I suppose gender is the final frontier for human separations… When we transcend gender everyone will just shut the fuck up. I have an analysis… This whole thread is fucking gay. Fuck all of it… Except the couple of lines about transcending gender. You guys are like, totally onto something! That’s cute 🙂 A sad thread for a genderless Earth (yes you). *When human is the embarrassment. Big sigh. I’m not a man. I’m not a woman. I am you.

Julian C. Duron April 18, 2012 at 3:29 am

All anon commenters are living in fear… Come into the light. There is peace here.

Guest April 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm

we’re not all on fb

Michael Carrig April 18, 2012 at 3:46 am

I think the answer is different than imposing an even distribution of men and women. This would reduce shows to ‘administration’ and as a result to a ‘work’. This would reflect a further ‘capitalization’ of art in general. 

The idea that curation needs to be equally distributed also suggests that a given show should think about its choices in terms of another show.  It is quite possible that certain aesthetics are tendentious within a given sex. Thus the curatorial relationship could have a gender relation, but not one that is particularly political.  It is rather an existential, statistical or social factor consciously or unconsciously repeated across a given group. This is the problem of mimesis or non-identity in the work of Adorno or Benjamin, or of different(c)iation in Deleuze.

In terms of the group, intentionality is, as a friend of mine recently pointed out, elliptical, and cannot thought of in terms of simple categories. The fact is that as soon as a group acts, that act will appear as a representation in the form of a whole. The whole of that representation is separate from the aggregate components of that group act. In this case each curation has its own factors which constitute their individual continuum. The point is that each of the accused may have a whole set of separate motivations, aesthetic and otherwise, which are reduced to a question of market. Thus if there is any gender problematic, it must be thought with some degree of specificity in terms of the curator at hand.

Now this isn’t to say that shows which describe themselves as completely arbitrary or historical in choice don’t have a separate ethical obligation to equal representation, but that cannot be applied as a blanket to curating.  The idea that there is a specific ethical imperative is lazy and uncritical. 

As a slight criticism, I think that women should begin to have more self-confidence and affirmative interest in female work. One shouldn’t think twice about organizing women into a show. If the motivations for the organization are other than gender, than there is no reason to question one’s “role” in that show.  You shouldn’t project that anxiety on women in general. The criticism instead should be of men and women who look down on shows focusing on women, whether curated by men or women themselves. 

Inevitably the answer to the problem would be to simply anonymize so that focus is on the content; however that would remove ownership and recognition, so it is likely to inhuman and utopian to ask for.

ANJA MORGAN April 20, 2012 at 11:58 am

“As a slight criticism, I think that women should begin to have more self-confidence and affirmative interest in female work. ”

here is the point where it might be worth for you to sit for a bit and think about the ways in which underconfidence, passiveness, anxiety, meekness, etc are traits which many women are taught from birth, the ways in which society trains, enforces, and rewards women for being decorative objects rather than agents, and the ways in which women are pitted against each other competitively. you should also think about what it is like to grow up female: you should factor in seemingly unrelated concepts like street harrassment, the wage gap, rape, media representation of women, being told you can’t do stuff as a small child, etc. so given ALL of these things: imagine what it is like to be the only woman in a room
of men, and how that experience is a very specific feeling of being the
other, and how and why that would lead a woman to question what “role”
gender plays. men don’t think about it, because they don’t need to. women are constantly reminded of their femaleness, and their other-ness, and this is difficult for me to ignore.

while it’s true that yes, women should support each other’s work more and be more aggressive and confident about the value of their own work, and i would love to see that happening as well, there are structures in place which exacerbate the problem and “women should try harder” is not actually the solution.  men should try harder, too. everyone should try harder. thus blaming the victims of an existing negative structure or suggesting that they have 100% agency to change it (“if only they TRIED!!!”) is  problematic.

Julian C. Duron April 18, 2012 at 3:47 am

Hello, I’m an extra terrestrial. On my planet we have realized gender is an illusion for billions of your Earth years. Please send any gender inquiries or confusions to our collective  Twitter under the human alias @JulianCD — Our job is to help your planet through this rough transition period where issues like gender, sexual orientation, race, and music genre still act as barriers from the realization that you are all one with a single universal life force. Good luck humans.

Kim April 18, 2012 at 5:05 am

usual netart curator’s behavior to set up a show:
1. invite friends
2. invite some good artworks
3. invite some women
4. make a gif about the show

Lorna Mills April 18, 2012 at 9:54 pm

 Why is step 1 separate from step 3?

sally April 19, 2012 at 12:04 am

yeah…that’s why I couldn’t understand this. Is Kim is making a point that for the “usual netart curator” friends doesn’t include women?

Sterling Crispin April 19, 2012 at 3:13 am

I know I’m probably just adding fuel to this fire, but I’m going to give this another try.

I think he was trying to criticize the casual and ill defined nature of some exhibits. The kind of shows that happen built around social groups rather than concepts, although I would argue that nearly any exhibit netart or other wise works like that. 

I don’t think he’s saying his friends are not women, and its silly to suggest he is implying that.

His step 3 is a jab people making sure they are not coming across as insensitive. 
Do you really think men sit around planning things and excluding women, then bump our chests together laughing? This argument is so polarizing. Thats the kind of logic that fuels anti-semites and any other hate groups. Most people are not out to get you, they are struggling with their own fucked up lives. Maybe there are people in the world who act like that, but I dont think many of them make art, maybe they do and I’m wrong. Maybe being a woman is a roller coaster of torture and oppression, I’ll never know but I really hope its not. Do you think its mostly subconscious bias and all these people are just caught up in a snowball of gender inequality?
Am I really so optimistic and naive to think that these maybe trends on their way out of society? I think less people are oppressed than ever before, even if life is still oppressive and cruel for many people. Why not foster a productive attitude and look past our differences and treat eachother as equals, thats what I was getting at to begin with. Maybe “postgender” is a really offensive statement to someone but I didn’t intend it that way. Life is complex and fucked up and nobody has it fair, I’m not trying to say I know what it is to be you. I’m trying to just treat you like a person and get beyond all of that.

Do you think its a solution to be proactively recognized as a female artist or do you want people to look past your gender and focus on your art? Is either the solution? Whats the solution? I hear a lot of fighting and complaining and I don’t see anyone putting up a solution. I mentioned this and I still haven’t seen anyone offering up positive ways to move forward and help each other. Is Sheroes a solution? Was “Why Are There No Great Women Net Artists” the solution? Was attacking me a solution? Was all this argument a solution? Is it an aggregate of everything?

I think you ought to focus on what you can do to affect positive change than lashing out at people and thats what I told you in the first place. That was my question to begin with, I’m not out to get you. I also said I thought everyone deserved to be treated with equality and we were splitting hairs on facebook, but Paddy didn’t bother to quote that. I’m not an asshole or a misogynist and I may have been rude but I treat people fairly.You know I threw a speed show last year & invited nearly _everyone_ I could think of then out of who replied still felt weird about the male/female ratio, and went back through proactively trying to find more women to participate. I literally had to ask people for help with names of female net artists because I hand’t received a positive enough response. Thats not always the case but thats been my experience.Why don’t you use that brick to start building up a temple instead of throwing them?

Kim April 19, 2012 at 5:43 am

gender problems are everywhere where the ratio isn’t 50:50. it’s worth a discussion, but the only solution is to have more female net artists. quota systems has been established in german politics, we have more women now, but did it helped the policy?

sally April 19, 2012 at 10:33 am

I don’t think you are a mysogynist, Sterling. Nobody has accused you of that. This is about pointing out a systemic problem in order for it to become visible and not invisible. Systemic discrimination perpetuates when many many people are unaware of it. Now more people are aware and I am quite hopeful that things will improve in net art land. You are part of the solution. It’s going to be okay.

Absis Minas April 19, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Maybe your temple is offensive to some people.

Jennifer Chan May 2, 2012 at 4:42 pm

I got here by googling the title of my own article. On reflection that article was a start, and maybe a naive attempt to try and align my contemporary peers with a relevant, canonically defined Feminist history. In hindsight I think it was sort of unfair to try and force all these women into a history they’re not interested in. I’m now working one-on-one with women to try and create a dialogue around their work and to produce writing about it that they feel is going to make their work sound relevant to contemporary art discourse. 

Also, it’s really hard to make everyone happy when you write history (I can totally see why B.Troemel gets so much shit), and maybe I was trying to do too much all in one article (privilege shame, call people out for not featuring women, etcetc. hey, I put a target on myself and it’s because of what I think; in no way am I hoping to speak for those artists I had mentioned).  So this is a long way of saying I wrote wasn’t meant to be a solution–in fact the title was written negatively to invite immediate kneejerk reaction. I think I moreso wanted to focus on complex representation of female net artists within exhibition contexts (i.e. either as “beautiful” performers or obscure programmers, only famous for performance work, etc.)

Kim April 19, 2012 at 5:01 am

absolutely not!
i hope every male curator already have some women in point one, but what if not? then he probably have some women in point 2, but what if not?
do you really want a point 3?

Kim April 19, 2012 at 4:58 am

1. 2. 4. are the reality.
3. is the point this post demands!?

Kim April 18, 2012 at 5:56 am

i mean just naming facebook as source for your post makes it gossip..

Cityboy April 18, 2012 at 6:08 am

‘As a curator in the 21st century, if I put together a show with all one
gender (especially a large group show) I have to know that the show is
therefore going to be about gender’

What a load of crap. If I did a show where all the artists were black, would it be about race?!

Paddy Johnson April 18, 2012 at 9:52 am

Yes. If you put together a show with all one race than it is about that race. If you group artists according to race or gender within a larger show than it’s also about race. Remember when the 2006 Whitney Biennial curators organized their show so that all the black artists shared a room? That arrangement made an unintended statement about race and it wasn’t a good one. 

Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 7:31 pm

this is a provincial and petty way to look at art, paddy

im not trying to demonize you for interpreting curatorial decisions how you’d like, but to say that theres some objective ‘meaning’ to doing a show with predominantly male, black or whatever artists is false

Paddy Johnson April 18, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Identity isn’t meaningless. It is the result of our experiences and shapes how we respond to the world. Can you really say that the art you make is completely divorced from your life? 

Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 8:05 pm

i think it’s different though..i’m a teen from arizona, which i feel is an extremely unique parallax (in the context of new media art) which is why i make art about being a teen from arizona. if i wanted to make art about something else, i certainly hope that would be properly received. i guess i feel like a black artist participating in a show with other black artists isnt necessary bound in the role of a ‘racial’ artist..the same way that a female artist doesnt have to make feminist art and a male artist doesnt have to make art about being a man. to say that art can be connected to the artists social identity is correct but to say that it inextricably IS is patronizing to artists who try to take different approaches

also, i dont mean to say that identity doesnt inform all art. it totally does, i would agree that no art is centered around some kind of ‘object’ art IS subjectivity. i think more of what we are discussing are distinct social concepts rather than individual perspectives, the two do intertwine but one doesnt have to be referring to a vast social concept to make personal art

ANJA MORGAN April 18, 2012 at 8:13 pm

AND to add to that — if an artist can claim that their art is divorced from their identity, or that their art isn’t about their identity, it certainly doesn’t prevent their audience from projecting what they know about the artist’s life onto their work — which is also a huge part of how privilege works.

those with more privileged identities are, in general, concerned significantly less with how knowledge of their identity/race/gender/sexuality/whatever will affect their work’s reception. being perceived, talked about, or understood simply an “artist” or a “writer” or whatever is WAY less likely if you are a woman/queer/trans/person of colour/disabled/whatever. this is a big part of what those with the comfy blinders of privilege don’t realise, and why they are able to claim that “this stuff isn’t an issue, because i don’t feel like it matters!”

Jaakko Pallasvuo April 18, 2012 at 6:42 am

I think it would be interesting to extend this conversation beyond the hetero binary (as was mentioned before). It would also be interesting to think about what kinds of representation of gender get rewarded in the (net) art system? Like not only if women / men are present but also what kinds of interpretations of femininity/masculinity they put forward.

Superman April 18, 2012 at 9:25 am

What if they didn’t want to make a gender-balanced exhibition, but just wanted to do a exhibition.
Art and most likely “net-art” isn’t gender-balanced. But this is a societal problem that will hopefully get better and better. But this isn’t the young curator’s responsability to fix the issue, it’s of everyone responsability.

And yelling after them isn’t constructive.
It’s as stupid as yelling at women artists : “why were you not in the show ? We lost our 50% stat because of you.”

Simon April 18, 2012 at 9:47 am


Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 10:11 am
Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 10:46 am

A bit late, but I feel the need to add my voice here as a trans person. I do not like being used an example to support this “post-gender” nonsense, which I agree with many above is a privileged attempt to derail discussions about gender based prejudice. In fact, I’ve heard this argument so much (and always by men) it’s quite tiresome.  

Furthermore, to make trans people a third gender is quite offensive. The vast majority of trans people are either women or men, full stop. I myself am both transsexual and genderqueer so do advocate for the ability to check a box saying “other.” However, the ability to define oneself as something other than either a woman or man is hardly “post-gender.” If gender was meaningless, why would I have transitioned at all? 

Lois Jpeg April 18, 2012 at 11:22 am
Lois Hopwood April 18, 2012 at 11:22 am
Kelly Seagraves April 18, 2012 at 1:39 pm

After I read this article and the subsequent debate, I continued surfing the web to discover a picture of 5 male deer and 1 doe sitting underneath a trampoline. This is life. As a woman, sometimes you find yourself sitting under a trampoline with a bunch of bros. As a woman, sometimes you find yourself in a net art show … with a bunch of bros. This is life. Not once has fairness been measured by mathematical equivalence: That is the challenge for each individual. It is the ebb and flow. It hearkens back to the old “menstrual hut” debate. Whether or not a woman’s marginalization is out of shame or an act of respect depends solely on the individual’s interpretation of this ritual. I’m with Sterling Crispin. Get past the old debate. Here’s a quote, just for you. Mull it over in the menstrual hut. “Unless we can discover a way to critique the system without furthering the system, we shall be lost.”

Cola Nuke April 19, 2012 at 4:13 am

best post, nice going, sweetcheeks 😉

sally April 19, 2012 at 3:37 pm

what is the old menstrual hut debate? from what I read here it sounds distressing. shame vs. respect – I’m not satisfied with those choices, lack of marginalization in the first place would suit me better.

Corinna Kirsch April 19, 2012 at 11:47 pm

WHAT? I totally disagree.

“Not once has fairness been measured by mathematical equivalence” is not true. The Guerilla Girls and others looked at the number of women in museum collections and exhibitions, which eventually helped institutions to get on board with exhibiting and collecting more female artists. 

Paul Slocum April 18, 2012 at 1:49 pm

If I recall correctly, And/Or Gallery showed about 40% women.  I think failing to curate women into shows just results in shittier art shows, because women easily master certain kinds of problems that many men beat their head against for years.

When Marcin and I were curating the almost all-male Play Station show at Postmasters recently, we discussed the gender problem, but ultimately didn’t have the resources to fix it.  We didn’t have any shipping or travel budget and we didn’t have any time, so we were mostly limited to women we already know in the New York area who make good playable art videogames and could probably come install the piece themselves on short notice. Additionally, the Bring Your Own Beamer event at the opening was an open call, and I only got one entry from a woman.

Nia Burks April 19, 2012 at 2:22 pm

You probably only got one entry from a woman because women are too busy trying to maintain control over their baby chutes.

Shamus Clisset April 18, 2012 at 2:20 pm

animated GIF of panties getting all in a bunch

sally April 18, 2012 at 6:24 pm

gif or it didn’t happen

Dayton C Castleman April 18, 2012 at 4:44 pm

REACTION VIDEO::::: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_a_S0hNJpRQ

Jennifer Chan April 18, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Sterling’s comment was made in public domain (the Web, in the context of talking to the net art community, and on Facebook) , and later DELETED, including the responses from other people such as Sarah Ludy and Absis Minas. 

so I don’t think the art journalism on AFC was muckraking or expository imo… it’s actually a neutral quotation of what was said. Journalists quote everyday people; what’s wrong with that?

Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 6:24 pm

lol, okay, i am asking you to warrant your own claim and you are able to opt out by assuming im being “negative and defensive” because i “don’t want to identify my own actions as prejudiced” ok cool.

this is not a real argument, you are trying to evade the question that is actually at hand. seriously, where is it explicitly observable that curators prefer men to women? even if you contend that this is ‘unintentional’ and a ‘product of larger social structures’ we are left without any knowledge of how this patriarchy manages to trickle down into net art. without a warrant for this, paddy’s argument as well as those of supporters are incomprehensible

Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 6:48 pm

After a bit of thinking id think it be best if we all went outside, got some air, and then created some art of our own instead of bickering on the internet :::)))

Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 6:51 pm

disqus is fucking sick though,, i like looking at how many likes comments have, its exhilarating 

guest April 18, 2012 at 7:28 pm

this show has no females because women don’t want to be in the ghetto of net art as they are already in the ghetto of female

Hellothere April 18, 2012 at 8:25 pm
Michael Manning April 18, 2012 at 8:41 pm

I feel I have been unfairly targeted based on my last name. 

Alexandra Gorczynski April 19, 2012 at 1:15 am

 http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3546/5701691472_39a19b8060_o.gif    😎

Cola Nuke April 19, 2012 at 5:56 am

Do you want to know the gender of the people involved in any show before you consider it? If you are a curator, and a proposal opts out of declaring a gender, what do you do?

I’m going to wade in with some stuff. I don’t know much about much, I just wanted to get some thoughts down.

Personally, I find gender boring. One of the reasons why I enjoy interacting over the internet (through ‘net art’ or facebook or blogs or whatever) is that it awards the opportunity to render the junk between your legs either vestigial or vital, at your own discretion. On the internet, gender becomes a (relatively impotent, but equally valuable) choice*.
This is one reason why we use pseudonyms. Many artists that I like could be cats, or leprechauns, or pokemon for all I know. In many cases, it simply doesn’t matter, and I don’t understand why people feel that is such a bad thing. 

This also means that we have the opportunity to leave that particular gender orientated baggage (read: affirmative action) of IRL, IRL*.  And in my opinion, that is where it should remain. 
I know many people will be of the opinion; “But it’s not baggage, it’s who I am. Why can’t I identify as a woman, or a man, while on the internet?”. My answer is that it’s fine, identify however you like, just don’t expect me to loose sleep if I forget to take part in the rituals that need to accompany your gender IRL. 

I don’t know what that makes me, maybe I just hate all people.

*Now, of course, IRL is obviously somewhat murky idea, and the crossover between our real lives and our internet lives (if there is such a binary distinction) is a labyrinthine topic of its own, but, being a cat, I am not clever enough to deal with it.

*I am aware that ideally, in the modern world, gender is always a choice. However, a dropdown menu is much easier to navigate than a real-world reassignment. Maybe one day that will change.

Lorna Mills April 19, 2012 at 3:49 pm

 Thanks for clarifying
Kim, however the waters get muddy again if we all acknowledge that we aren’t
simply lean mean aesthetic machines. Our choices for what we want to see are
complex. We all have prejudices of taste, we exercise bias and preference, it’s
how we function in the art world. (The best we can do is stay alert and hope
that some insight will balance our blind spots.)
No one on this thread has managed to convince me
that exhibition curations are all about “the work” or that internet art occupies
some pure zone of meritocracy. Claiming this simplicity to the idea of
organizing/curating net projects (or any project) is a bit disingenuous.  What’s
way more interesting is the motivations behind these choices and again they are complex. Refusing to admit that we are adorable little bundles of contradictions
means that we’ll never examine our own associations, personal obligations, and
agendas when we are launching projects into the public sphere. It’s a messy proposition and the very
least curators can do is to recognize and articulate their criteria in a bit
more detail.
Like a lot of people on
this thread, I cringe at the mention of quotas applied in this particular arena. But I also have to admit that there is a numbers game at play, (as
detractors of this post bring up over and over again.)  The ratios aren’t 50:50
male to female in practice, but neither are they 29:3, 42:9 or 21:1.  No single show is going to be all things to everyone, and neither do I want it to be, but
something here is weird and might be pointing to the beginnings of a net art
monoculture.  That worry is shared by many artists, it’s not a democratic zone
but it is, at the very least, an expansive zone and that isn’t being reflected
in a lot of curation.  Good artists doing good work deserve better curators.
(they also deserve the support of the curators when questions are rightfully

Lorna Mills April 19, 2012 at 3:52 pm

 Will, why can’t I post a comment without this weird spacing happening?

Will Brand April 19, 2012 at 4:54 pm

I have no idea. DISQUS is a strange land with unfamiliar customs.

Frieda-raye Green April 19, 2012 at 7:33 pm

I didn’t realize I was the only female artist included in the USB show in Paris. And I don’t think that bringing up this issue stigmatizes me as a woman artist. Discussing this creates awareness and generates more dialogue. I know that in the past I have been wary of bringing up this issue because my art is not a particularly gender-focused project, and I know of my several female artist friends that would probably identify with that sentiment. But I think not doing so is dangerous. It is not embarrassing to be a female artist who is conscious of being a female artist and doing so does not have to shackle the content of your work to some sort of overt conversation about “femaleness” or even feminism. Being informed does not pigeonhole you or your creative self

sally April 19, 2012 at 7:59 pm

omg. I nominate this as the “most sane” comment on this thread.

Paddy Johnson April 19, 2012 at 8:29 pm

This comment is fantastic. 

Lrexer April 24, 2012 at 10:20 am

As a critic and curator who has been gently criticized for not including more women (I wasn’t aware of the work!) I do find it incredible that you would want to limit yourself, that you wouldn’t at least ask, am I missing out on something?  My students have turned me on to a lot of interesting net art, all by women, and you have to wonder what these so-called curators are really committed to.

Paddy Johnson June 8, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Changed my mind, fuck this comment.

Tom Doody April 20, 2012 at 8:23 pm
Rachel Abelson April 20, 2012 at 9:56 pm

discussions surrounding gender inequality in the arts tend to reach agree-to-disagree impasses because the argument that ethics has no business in aesthetics is an attractive one, especially amongst the kind of die-hard purists who are drawn to artistic practices to begin with.  the prospect of instituting mandatory representation quotas of marginalized populations has an undeniably bad aftertaste; the last thing we want is some sort of pc big brother in the kitchen.  but mandatory quotas are not the same as mindfulness. to look at something for a sustained period of time demands at least an iota of empathy.  if art has any value, it is that it exposes us to the consciousnesses of people different than our selves.  women artists often come into being with a heightened awareness of a gendered point of view.  by virtue of the cannon (what centuries of inequality has etched in marble) women are asked to confront expressions of male consciousnesses and position their work in relation to them in a way that even today is rarely required of male artists.  as a result, art by women can sometimes come across as alien and outside agreed-upon tastes, even to women curators and critics (especially it seems when it is art by women that is not explicitly about gender).  thus, a nasty loop perpetuates itself.  notions of post-gender have no purchase until we are post-human, and we are not there yet, not even on the internet.    

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Paddy Johnson April 19, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Hi Nathan,

Thanks for your feedback. A few comments just so we can get a some things straight. 

1. Trolling around Facebook for Gossip. Sterling seems very upset about this as do many of his colleagues, but fact of the matter is there’s no grounding for those complaints. Journalists often use Facebook as a source for stories. It’s a public space, and the statements people make there are cited by blogs and mainstream media all the time. If I used a quote from Facebook for a positive story, I doubt anyone would be complaining about the source. 

2. Discussing the art. I’ve mentioned this elsewhere in the comment section, but this idea that we’re not talking about what really matters when we discuss representation is sorely misplaced. Art isn’t made in isolation somewhere only to be birthed into the wild by some daring curator or writer. It grows out of a community, and to think otherwise is to buy into a mythology of art that simply doesn’t exist in the real world. 

3. Trying to make a buck. If Art Fag City staff made money on a per post basis, this post would make us less than $100 dollars. That revenue would be divided in two. The idea that the post was written for financial reasons is simply wrong. 

4. Playing the victim. If I’ve been doing that I haven’t been doing a very good job — I didn’t mention myself in the blog or the comment section. 

Nathan Maxwell Cann April 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Hello Paddy.

1. ‘Journalists often use Facebook as a source for stories.’   This says more about the sorry state of net journalism than it does the integrity of your work.
2. ‘Art isn’t made in isolation somewhere only to be birthed into the wild by some daring curator or writer. It grows out of a community, and to think otherwise is to buy into a mythology of art that simply doesn’t exist in the real world.’ Agreed, so  please show me how the art exhibited in the show reinforce genders politics.  That may have been an interesting story.

3. ‘The idea that the post was written for financial reasons is simply wrong. ‘  The proverbial buck.  Notoriety, social momentum, etc.  People in New York have all kind of motivation.  Of course, the idea you would write such drivel for personal kicks is sickening. 

4.  Victimizing women.  Reinforcing the illusion of gender dichotomies instead of finding ways to work productively for equality.  I think your approach is more harmful than beneficial to a nart art feminist movement.  The attitude you have about this issue is “Shame on you, men!  You have all been very naughty boys!” Wonderfully empowering stuff.  When has complaining to the boys club about their sexist ways ever work in the history of gender politics?  Who is the ideal audience of this article, men or women?  Also, how about listing some gender-balanced curators of net-art that are not women?  Or was that on purpose?

Of course, I’m just a “dude,” so what do I know?

Paddy Johnson April 20, 2012 at 4:01 pm

1. The state of journalism is not defined by whether you think quoting facebook is fair. The New York Observer ran an entire feature on Jerry Saltz’s facebook page, with direct quotes, and I didn’t see anyone complain. If you don’t want to be quoted by a journalist, don’t send them a friend request. End of story. 

2. If you’re asking for how the art in an all male show demonstrates that art is a reflection of male experiences, than you don’t agree with the statement as it was made in full. If you agree, there’s really no need for the explanation you demand. If you don’t, you’re saying that you believe male experience is no different than female experience and in order to have your mind changed you need to see how that so called difference in experience is expressed in art. 

3. First I was trying to make a buck, now I’m doing this for social momentum. The post addresses a social issue and the numbers suggest quite a few people read it. That however, is unusual. Gender issues are often viewed as a tired topic in the fine art world, so if I were really doing this for the social capital I should have chosen a better topic. 

Also, “People in New York have all kinds of motivation” suggests a provincialism I’m guessing you don’t really support. It suggests you think New Yorkers are different from you just because we live in New York.  

4. First I was playing the victim, now I’m turning women into the victim.  As evidence you put quotes around things I never said, and would never say, all the while turning men into the victim. The point here is that we all benefit from a more equal representation of women in these shows, and when shows such as this one become top heavy with men, the participants can help ensure those numbers are better balanced. These conversations are meant to empower those participating in the art world to make their exhibiting experiences what they want them to be. 

Will Brand April 23, 2012 at 12:46 am

Hey Nathan! 

Firstly, in re the question “You call yourself an art journalist?”, I’m not sure Paddy does. I’ve mostly heard her use “critic”. One way or another, though, she’s been writing about art for six or so years for a variety of major art publications, which I think is probably enough to earn the title. Basically, in the media, people base your title on what you’ve been doing in public full-time for years, and not the opinion of somebody on the internet who thinks you capitalize “mother”.

(There’s also an “about” section at the top!)

Also, these other points, in keeping with the previous numbering:

1- You seem to have lost track of the fact that Sterling actually did post that comment. That’s never been disputed, by him or by anyone in these comments (that I’ve seen). That happened, in real life. If it had happened on Twitter, or in a spoken conversation, or in a hand-written letter, we would have said that, only it happened on Facebook. So it’s not much point attacking Paddy’s sources unless you have some contrary evidence. 

2- Nobody’s raised the idea that these artists are making particularly sexist work. I don’t think there’s any basis for that question to begin with.

Your question is analogous to asking which parts of a water fountain’s design make it racist. Water fountains and bus seats aren’t inherently racist. They’re actually almost entirely unable, as objects, to autonomously express racist attitudes and/or subjugate humans of any color. Nonetheless, they have been used as tools of discrimination. Life’s just like that. Sucks for the water fountain.

3- I think Paddy handled this, but I’d just like to give you the chance to clarify exactly why her being offended at the lack of women in net art shows is “sickening” to you. Please, continue to let people know when their moral reactions are sickening, and then go ahead and wonder why you’re not more popular.

4- To recap, the first part of your comment here is about “complaining to the boys club”, and then the second part is about how we only named female net art curators. The third part here, that helps connect things, is that most net art curators are women. 

That explains a lot of why you had to make up some of the things you said, like that Paddy was complaining about boy curators in particular. If there’s a problem with net art curation, it’s hard to avoid the corollary that whatever’s going wrong, it’s probably in part a woman’s fault. This also has a lot to do with why Paddy’s closing uses “professionalism”, and related terms, rather than “sexism”. It’s not an issue of outright gender warfare, it’s an issue of compiling unexamined shows.

(P.S. Putting comments like the ‘I’m just a “dude,” so what do I know?’ at the bottom is a punk move. Not only are you responding to purely imagined misandry, which is pretty bad, but you’re also typing out this little addendum specifically so you can feel justified when people don’t agree with you or engage with your specious arguments. Don’t give yourself such an easy out. Stick around and figure out if your ideas are worth arguing.)

Ryder Ripps April 18, 2012 at 11:53 am

no there certainly arent, why doesnt this article show images of the MANY fantastic women who’s work involves technology – Sybil Prentice, Bea Fremderman, Rachel Lord, Alli Crawford, Kacie Kim, Bunny Rogers, Kaja Andersen, Frieda-raye Green.. to name a few artists whom are women making great stuff in this space.

Ryder Ripps April 18, 2012 at 1:29 am

thats fine, just one question, what is the contemporary role of a curator who is curating for the internet? i thought the thing that attracted us to the internet was the fact that everyone had a voice and it was more democratic. i thought we shared an opinion and were excited by the idea that the art world’s old system of patronage and appreciation could be destroyed through the internet, that the internet allowed for anyone with a computer and connection to have an audience for the things they make. if these are things that you believe in, and i assume that they are being as you are a blogger and not a writer for ARTFORUM or something of the like,,, if they are things that you believe in, then why must you introduce these old world notions of curators, as if the spaces they are curating are institutionalized. these are just people making things – everyone is just as free as the next person to make things and release them online.

Ryder Ripps April 18, 2012 at 1:53 am

for the record, i feel the curation of USB is totally sexist and id go as far as to say its outright lazy.

Peter Jacobson April 18, 2012 at 9:37 am

Was net art supposed to be a complete level playing field? Internet meet the art world? We all have the ability to self produce but shows are curated. If we’re going to talk about net art shown as art, aren’t we inevitably talking about one person or a group of people picking and choosing? BYOBs are curated too. Otherwise someone could just fire up a computer in a corner and we can all go home.

Paddy Johnson April 18, 2012 at 9:40 am

Centre d’Art Bastille is a publicly funded space, which makes it by definition an  institutional space. I don’t think one can ignore that reality just because we think the web is more democratic. 

But that assumes I think the web is more democratic. I do not. More people are able to talk to each than ever before, but that doesn’t mean our voices are all equal. Far more people hear my voice than my friends (I have a blog), far fewer people read me than Jerry Saltz (he writes for NYMag). My experience of the web is not a democratic one. 

This doesn’t mean that I don’t think the net is changing the art world — it certainly is — but we shouldn’t extrapolate from that, that it’s also changing gender biases so we don’t need to worry about them. 

Ryder Ripps April 18, 2012 at 11:42 am


Ryder Ripps April 18, 2012 at 11:46 am

fair enough.

Lorna Mills April 18, 2012 at 1:15 am

 Seriously, no not all.  However in a fledgling
scene, most of us know about each others work, and if we don’t, the research
isn’t so hard to do, (and fun if you like looking at art.)  So my first response
is “How the fuck does a given curator planning a large group show manage not to notice all the women mining
the same territory as men?”  What’s going on?  I know lots of curators who find
this weird too.


If you think about it, there is a real harm to a
fledgling scene if it’s going to be dismissed as irrelevant “high 5 bro”
culture, when in reality it isn’t.

Ryder Ripps April 18, 2012 at 3:03 am

what if its a show of two people, who are both men.. is the show about men? what if they are two women? is it about women? what if its two black men? its it about black men now? if the answer is yes to any of the above questions one must wonder why you want to put gender and/or race as the central point of every art show. you say “because it cant be escaped” i say, “thats too bad”

Lorna Mills April 18, 2012 at 4:22 pm

 And what if it’s a show of two people both men that is billed as a survey of net art. (Somebody please make this happen!)

Again seriously not at all, however if every two person show by any given institution or entity consistently was a two man show or consistently two woman show, would it escape your notice? Probably not.

Ryder Ripps April 18, 2012 at 4:32 pm

sorry i honestly dont see the world in this binary way, its unfortunate some people do

George Michael Brower April 18, 2012 at 6:02 pm

A hoop I shouldn’t have to jump through: I would say a two-men show billed as a survey of net art would not be unrepresentative, as I can say with some confidence that less than 50% of the people involved in net art are women.

i think we all agree, that’s very bad.  any body of work suffers when only a few perspectives are represented.
however most technical/engineering fields (industrial / corporate / artistic or otherwise) suffer from a disproportionate lack of women — those fields very often serve as the “gateway drug” of artists who explore technology. 

these are larger issues that need to be rectified, the blame in this article is sorely misplaced.

Lorna Mills April 18, 2012 at 10:00 pm

 Explain please.

Ryder Ripps April 18, 2012 at 11:18 pm

i dont always think about gender, esp. online.. i see an image before i see a face.. also ps LOL at this stupid box shape  http://plop.ws/140 

Lorna Mills April 18, 2012 at 11:35 pm

respond to this comment so that I can giggle at your oppression by an even tinier box.

Ryder Ripps April 18, 2012 at 11:48 pm


Sterling Crispin April 19, 2012 at 12:47 am


Ryder Ripps April 19, 2012 at 1:09 am


Sterling Crispin April 19, 2012 at 2:04 am















Anonymous April 19, 2012 at 6:25 pm

we have 2 go deeper

Lorna Mills April 18, 2012 at 10:22 pm

 Except that we seem to disagree on a fundamental. I know that there are lots of women working in net art. Will Brand asserts this as well as Paul Slocum and Jennifer Chan among so many others. 

Ryder Ripps April 20, 2012 at 2:37 pm

shut up

Ryder Ripps April 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm

u obviously havent read any of my comments, which agree with the post but suggest productive alternatives to bringing light to an issue as opposed to inflammatory posts which only polarize us and make everyone hate each other.

ANJA MORGAN April 20, 2012 at 2:40 pm


Paddy Johnson April 20, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Yeah, but Ryder, you keep posting comments like, “This post is retarded” as if this proves the post was inflammatory. It’s to bad that, like you, so many have chosen to interprete this article as an assault on voiceless emerging artists. I don’t believe that and I think it’s a really disempowering spin to put on a story that asked for a response that could have been empowering and energizing.   Imagine what this conversation would have looked like if you or Sterling had said, “Wow, I really don’t like that gender breakdown. I’m going to make sure my next show looks different.” Instead, I’m fielding complaints that this post is polarizing, by a person who’s left a number of comments that are just that. 

Sterling Crispin April 20, 2012 at 6:56 pm

 I actually had basically said that Paddy, and encouraged people to contact the curator and took steps to resolve the problem before you felt the need to intervene. You’re the one who put a negative spin on this all and turned it into a shitstorm.

Paddy Johnson April 20, 2012 at 9:41 pm

I’m sorry your feelings were hurt Sterling, but I don’t see this post as a bad thing. I think the article made fresh an enduring problem in the digital art scene. There’s a lot good that can come out of this. 

Ryder Ripps April 22, 2012 at 7:18 pm

good for u, i have seen this post’s effect on the internet and now everyone is arguing and hating each other, but whatever, you can keep picking on kids if you dont have any bigger fish to fry.

Paddy Johnson April 22, 2012 at 7:36 pm

We all use the internet here Ryder. I’ve seen the same things you have and have gotten different versions of the shit Sterling is talking about. Debating isn’t a bad thing and the crazies always come out for passed around pieces. Chill out.

Ryder Ripps April 22, 2012 at 8:27 pm

i toldulike4timesthat i agreewithyou. uneedto”chill out” andstopassumingwhat i thinkof thingsbecauseof mygender andnot mywords. i alreadysaidi agreewithyoubut wqishpeoplecouldtalkabout great femailnetartistsinsteadof talkingabout “sexist malenetartists”

Ryder Ripps April 22, 2012 at 8:28 pm


Ryder Ripps April 18, 2012 at 11:07 pm

but mr. popcorn, you are a man, in fact, you are THE man.. in fact u are DA MAN.. and in this world you can haz all the net art showz becuz of that.. and dont u think thats bad????

Anonymous April 19, 2012 at 12:10 am

I won’t be responding to further questioning at this time, Mr. Ripps.


Ryder Ripps April 19, 2012 at 12:20 am

u are at the liberty to do that only because you are a man. mr. popcorn, have some sympathy and know what its like for the millions of female net artists who dont even have the opportunity to “refuse further questioning”

Anonymous April 19, 2012 at 1:20 am

Mr. Ripps, please. I am not open to further questioning at the time. Contact my publicist.

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