Young Girl Reading Group

A sonar-social architecture + synchronicity: join Young Girl Reading Group 144 at ICA, Jul 21

20 July 2017

The Young Girl Reading Group 144 at London’s ICA is taking place on July 21.

The collaborative project has been running since 2013 by Dorota Gawęda and Eglė Kulbokaitė, with this iteration part of #In_formationICA, a hashtag that explores commoning and collectivity. This reading will look at an extract from Folding Beijing written by Chinese science fiction writer Hao Jingfang.

YGRG defines itself as a “sonar-social architecture of shared curiosity and synchronicity” who aim to create a “rhizomatic network of voices, suggestions and references,” and “composed not only of particles and molecules that circulate within, but prefaces, dedications, citations, appendices, illustrations, references, notes, diagrams and thoughts which travel in reverse.”

Performers for this event include Dorota Gawęda, Eglė Kulbokaitė, Safiya LaGillé, Ellenx Tellnobody, Catherine Prieto Österberg and Ari King.

Visit the FB event page for details.**

 

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Becoming Ai: The artists behind Agatha Valkyrie Ice discuss the project as the post-gender avatar’s crib closes at Oslo10

19 April 2017

“Ai extended organs: mind (google docs), imagination (tumblr, instagram), sound (soundcloud), language (facebook, twitter), correspondence (gmail).”  

Agatha Valkyrie Ice, Blend Ai Robots (2015) Flyer for garment making workshop with Orion Facey.

Agatha Valkyrie Ice was first introduced to me a few years ago, while sitting in a coffee shop in Neukölln, Berlin. I had met Dorota Gawęda and Eglė Kulbokaitė to discuss their project Young Girl Reading Group, which at the time was being held in their apartment in the same neighbourhood each Sunday. As we sat drinking coffee we dissected Tiqqun’s identity, a far-left French philosophical journal whose anonymous collective of writers authored Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl, examining the impossibility of love under neoliberalism in catchy excerpts. The book uses the notion of ‘The Young-Girl’ to represent the model citizen and total product of a consumer society. Gawęda and Kulbokaitė took the same title to indoctrinate their reading group practice as a critical backlash was gaining momentum against the Young-Girl concept. It was alleged that Tiqqun’s use of the term adhered to the gendered idea that anything femme was synonymous with unconscious capital, thus reinforcing conventional misogynistic tropes. It raised questions about how neutral these anarcho-writers’ concepts really were.

The conversation seamlessly wove this discussion with Gawęda and Kulbokaitė’s then new project, called Agatha Valkyrie Ice (aka ‘Ai’), who had started as a Google Doc of an open-source personality, that offered a space for communal authorship of female and marginalized groups to materialize through a critically inclusive practice. Agatha seemed the perfect foil for Tiqqun’s Young-girl. Watching her morph and manage personalities and textures over the coming years, she was always critical but never explicit. What is unique about Ai and perhaps also where Ai becomes almost too perfect, is the consistency of its output. Resulting in collective exhibitions, a Soundcloud, Google Docs and Facebook profiles, dealing with ideas around gender, authorship and the body over multiple platforms, users, performers and sites — Agatha always seems seamless, she is never flawed in public.

Ai showed far greater potential in its products than one could have imagined. Recently, MIT Technology Review suggested that AI (Artificial Intelligence) is very much a recognised technological output now, and that deep learning as a form can be physically proven. As example from last year, a self-driving car was released onto the quiet roads of New Jersey. Unlike others demonstrated by Google, Tesla or General Motors, this one was unique in the fact it didn’t take a single instruction from an engineer or programmer during its drive time. Instead, it relied entirely on an algorithm it had taught itself by watching humans drive. An impressive feat, but what’s bizarre is that no human can quite explain how it does it. No human can quite explain every possible aspect of their own behaviour either. Sometimes we behave instinctually, subconsciously or erratically, which has a lot to do with our environment at a given moment.

For the last two years Agatha has also been developing in response to her environment. Ai’s wasn’t the suburbs of the United States’ east coast but an art space in Basel, Switzerland, called Oslo 10. Awarded by the Christoph Merian Stiftung Foundation, the bursary is given to a curatorial project every two years, and between April 2015 and April 2017 it has been Agatha’s home. The co-working team that applied to run it was naturally Gawęda and Kulbokaitė, who also enlisted Ana Andra, Zayne Armstrong, Elin Gonzalez and Aaron Ritschard with the aim of manifesting the abstraction of Ai’s house in the gallery, in the outlandish style of the MTV Cribs reality TV show but within the history of art. The surreal, ironic and highly academic environments they created over this time is impressive for six people who worked over an epic programme of on- and offline identities. As Agatha’s ‘Crib’ came to a close, with Final Episode: Exit on April 8, I caught up with the team over a Google Doc, Facebook Messenger and brief conversation as we bumped into each other during the frenzied week of Documenta 14 in Athens.

Agatha Valkyrie Ice, EPISODE X/CHAPTER 3: BEDROOM (2016) Installation view. Courtesy the artist, Dorota Gawęda, Eglė Kulbokaitė + artmonte-carlo, Monaco. Photo credit: Dorota Gawęda.

** I was first introduced to Agatha, maybe two or three years ago. Since then she has morphed and maxed her performance and output. How did you all get to know her or materialize with her?

Elin Gonzalez: I was approached by Egle and Dorota about three years ago to embody Agatha on Soundcloud. Since the idea was about this open access personality I wanted other people to contribute so that each one of them would help building Agatha’s identity

Ana Andra: Agatha was an idea from [D&E]. I only started to understand the idea of creating Agatha when we got this possibility to have Ai ‘house’ at Oslo10. I had got to know many interesting artists who had contributed to Agatha. It was an interesting experience of developing with the group at the beginning and also with external people, who didn’t know if Agatha was real or not.

Egle Kulbokaite: Agatha was created first and foremost as an on-going film script in Google Doc format that continued growing with each of Agatha’s participation whether it was an exhibition or a score for a performance piece. The script was laid out through the metaphoric structure of the house viewing akin to MTV cribs. Thus, Agatha’s becoming as well as body could be understood through the space Ai inhabits.

Aaron Ritschard: Oslo 10 was to materialize the by then only virtually existing Agatha Valkyrie Ice by creating Agatha’s house. We wanted to guide the viewer through one room in each exhibition like in MTV cribs, our exhibitions were called episodes.

Manuel Schneider & Mathis Pfäffli, U (2016) Installation view. Courtesy the artist.

** The ‘body’ entwining with the Technology features heavily in Agatha’s prelude on the website, but Agatha also articulates key political ideas on post-gender and networks

AR: The term Ai that Ana mentioned was our tool to communicate post-authorship, which was one of the key-concepts introduced by our curator Agatha Valkyrie Ice. Agatha would be embodied by anybody who acts in Agatha’s name. Ai, standing for me, you, we, it’s, yours, ours etc. dissolves borders between individuals and transforms the physical author to an unidentifiable phantom.

** So it was more about cross-global authorship that could come together on-site in Basel? Combining URL to the IRL?

EK: Through the social media profiles like FB, Soundcloud, etcetera. we wanted to write an IRL sci-fi story, underlining links between and indeterminacies of virtual and real, singular and plural … Basel was feeding into URL as much as the digital responses were shaping the unfolding story of Agatha.

Dorota Gaweda: We were aiming at exploring how the relationship between body and space is created and how the meaning is inscribed within human, architectural and virtual bodies. We wanted to consider space as a surface, a permeable space of memory, imagination and affect, imagining it as a primary form of habitation that could potentially redefine the relationship between inside/outside, virtual/real, female/male, etcetera. URL and IRL were therefore interweaving actual locations, and it was important for us to address that within our programming of the space.

Agatha Valkyrie Ice, EPISODE 4: BATHROOM with Paul Barsch + Tilman Hornig (2015). Installation view. Photo credit Paul Barsch + Tilman Hornig.

** And how was that working as one Ai but living as a group of people — like a singular celled commune?

EK: Thinking Agatha and thinking collectives we were very much influenced by the writing of such authors as Donna Haraway among many. We aimed at bringing into the collective what Haraway called tentacular thinking in her recent book Staying with the Trouble:

“The tentacular are not disembodied figures; they are cnidarians, spiders, fingery beings like humans and raccoons, squid, jellyfish, neural extravaganzas, fibrous entities, flagellated beings, myofibril braids, matted and felted microbial and fungal tangles, probing creepers, swelling roots, reaching and climbing tendrilled ones. The tentacular are also nets and networks, it critters, in and out of clouds.”

AR: We were not like a commune, we were like a swarm.

AA: A swarm indeed.

** What does a Swarm’s conceptual framework in reality look like?

EG: When we decided  to apply for the space, we thought about working under Agatha Valkyrie Ice. We saw it as a good facilitator to bring such a heterogeneous group in some sense together. So that was the basic idea for how we started the project and mainly the first two shows here in Basel. We developed all the works together and made all the curatorial decisions as a group. Later on, we worked more or less independently for each show, forming smaller curatorial groups, either fluidly in between the group or with curators from outside, like Luca Beeler, Cathrin Mayer, Florentine Muhry or Daniel Iinatti.

Juliette Bonneviot, ‘XENOESTROGENS’, (2015) WEB RESIDENCY #1. Courtesy the artist + Oslo10.

** You also hosted a number of online components too right — web residencies etcetera?

DG: For us, the online Oslo10 was always equally important to the actual Oslo10 in Basel. In parallel to the programming in the space, we have hosted a number of web residencies by various artists,  Xenoestrogens by Juliette Bonneviot, Club Mirage by Kareem Lotfy, Blunt x Skensved or our most recent TLA_Mountain by Eloïse Bonneviot, to name a few. I think that throughout the two years the space has shown some really great online works. With some of the exhibitions we also tried to embrace the live-stream performative format for openings, here I mean some of the YGRG events and exhibitions such as Radical Togetherness by Anna and Esben Weile Kjær and PROJET 3 by Fritz Schiffers and Joshua Horeau. One of the most notable projects in my mind was the one proposed by BluntXSkensved where the artists simply hid www.oslo10.ch from view by moving the contents into the dark web.The regular contents of the website was only accessible through an encrypted network, so to find any information about the space you needed to download and launch the TOR Browser. This happened during Art Basel time, when all the local spaces compete for both the online and offline attention of the art crowd.

** The idea of the domestic and the unreachable seem to be ongoing in the curatorial program.

AR: Agatha started with a virtual body, with social media accounts as organs. So in a sense, each episode did not represent only a room, but actually a body part. Every specific room relates to a specific function and being of the human body. In the corridor, the body passes random other bodies. In the toilet the body empties. In the bathroom, the body cleans its surface. The body is represented in the rooms, your house is your body.

Young Boy Dancing Group, EPISODE 2: CORRIDORS (2015) Performance documentation. Courtesy the artistsBerlin Community Radio and Agatha Valkyrie Ice.

EG: The curatorial programme and the body idea resonated the most in the first two episodes I think, which we organized all together. Since the initial curatorial basis was to build a house for Agatha, room after room, we thought about the rooms in relation to what we saw as their counterparts in a ‘human’ body. The first show was the entrance, but it was also kind of Agatha’s birth (in Basel, not generally), since all life on earth started in the oceans. You have the entrance, and also the beginning, you have water as material, which works like a reflective skin, taking any shape you want it to have.

** Were there any moments that stand out in the last two years, that you felt really effectively pushed your theoretical ideas into visual entities?

AR: For me, the work eat me by Puppies Puppies reflected our ideas on the level of body/virtuality, post-authorship, and post-humanity. As the artist like Ai evades the idea of the person-artist. Puppies Puppies as an artists name is read as non-human, non-singular, post-gender. The artwork was based on an image taken out of the internet and depicted a meat buffet in shape of a human. So we grilled a lot of dead animal meat, incorporated a living human’s head in the buffet and added zombie-hands. When the work was done we sent PP an image to have PP confirm authorship. I think PP is vegetarian.

** Where will Agatha go from here?

DG: Agatha has been created as an experiment. From its conception in 2014 and onwards, Egle and I have always tried to find new iterations of the project. Oslo10 was one such opportunity where we attempted to implement a different mode of curating (together with Elin, Aaron, Ana and Zayne). As an experiment towards the alternate language and understanding of gender, defining one’s own personality in relation to the surrounding communities, Agatha was lead to evolve from a fictional postgender character confined framework of social media platforms, to an artistic strategy exploring contemporary parallels in identity and artistic production. All the projects within the Agatha Valkyrie Ice framework were striving towards a materialisation of a subjectivity which, although derived from the virtual, attempts at describing a possibility of an assemblage of agencies.  

Puppies Puppies, ‘Eat Me’ in EPISODE 2: CORRIDORS (2015). Performance documentation. Courtesy the artist, Berlin Community Radio.

The avatar has proven to have had a multitude of pragmatic uses: Agatha was a companion species, here to think with and to invent a body and a sexuality of one’s own. Agatha Valkyrie Ice also functioned as a framework for our practice and was an embodiment of the many preoccupations within. Both Egle and I believe that by now the project has reached its creative limits. In the coming months we would like to go back to its roots and revisit the film script.

EK: The Google Doc format allowed continued growth with each of Agatha’s participations, whether it was an exhibition or a score for a performance piece, whether Oslo10 or not. This film script is an archive of Agatha’s becomings. For nearly three years now, we have gathered a bulk of text and visual material that we see as key to our practice and understanding of the totality of the Agatha Valkyrie Ice project. In Agatha Valkyrie Ice — The Death of an Avatar, produced for the exhibition Riverside/RUST/The Mycological Twist (2015) initiated by Eloïse Bonneviot and Anne de Boer and Agatha Valkyrie Ice: Perma-permadeath (2016) performance commissioned by LISTE art fair alike — the avatar meets Ai end. The Mycological Twist aimed at creating an alternate community in the survival computer game RUST, but was also the site of the burial of Agatha Valkyrie Ice, while the LISTE performance was an IRL take on the choreographies of the game. Both pieces in our view marked an end to the development of the online personality and a shift towards extrapolating Agatha as a project in a more critical sense.

DG: Although there is a multiplicity of possible uses, opening up pathways to new forms of expression and blurring authorship, another way to see the process of becoming-avatar is as a voracious point and tool of erasure, be it of female artists or other marginalised subjects. The open-ended, cloud-based film script that has been a compendium of all Ai activity, a diary and a theoretical treatise on becoming real and becoming virtual: comprising performance, talks, sound works, sculpture within its textual form. For Egle and I, AVI is also a source book on which we will want to reflect in our coming projects.**

Agatha Valkyrie Ice’s Final Episode: Exit was on at Basel’s Oslo 10, April 8, 2017.

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Dgtl fmnsm festival, Nov 10 – 13

7 November 2016

The Dgtl fmnsm festival is taking place at various locations across Dresden as well as online at www.digitalfeminism.net, opening November 10 and running to the 13.

The event is organised by Hellerau in collaboration with CYNETART Festival and Leipzig’s Institut fuer Zukunft, bringing together an international community of artists, activists, performers and thinkers engaged in critical and imaginative discussions around feminist issues as well the digital technologies that “allow identities to become interchangeable and malleable, and spark new, experimental ways of playing out gender, identity and desire.”

Some events include performances by Helen Hester of Laboria Cuboniks Collective, Katrina Burch & Donatas Tubutis of d-n-e , Young Girl Reading Group and Reality Tales / Mental Surgeries, as well as a large installation by a secret feminist squad and a live show by Shawné Michaelain Holloway.

See the Digital Feminism website for details.**

 

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Memory video screening @ Loyal Gallery, Oct 8

7 October 2016

The Memory group exhibition is presenting a video screening at Stockholm’s Loyal Gallery on October 8.

The programme closes the show, curated by Daniel Iinatti and running since September 1. Featured will be an excerpt of video work ‘Sacre 2: HEX’ (2016 – 2017) by Jaakko Pallasvuo & Anni Puolakka, and Anne de Vries‘ ‘Critical Mass : Pure Immanence’ (2015), which also featured as part of the artist’s E _ M E R G E solo exhibition in Amsterdam last year. 

Also screening will be a video by Dorota Gawęda, Eglė Kulbokaitė + Fritz Marlon Schiffers‘ ‘YOUNG GIRL READING GROUP 132 at the Berlin Biennale 9, BOAT RAGE #7′. It’s presumably a film taken from the BB9 event  where Gawęda and Kulbokaitė’s performative artist-collaboration and reading group presented on the Blue-Star sightseeing boat venue of the biennale and including readings of Octavia Butler’s sci-fi short story Speech Sounds.

See the FB event page for details.**

Memory (2016). Exhibition view. Photo by Ari King. Courtesy Loyal Gallery, Stockholm.
Memory (2016). Exhibition view. Photo by Ari King. Courtesy Loyal Gallery, Stockholm.
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Manifesting Young Girl Reading Group

14 August 2015

Recently, a series of shared links led me to the activities of Young Girl Reading Group (YGRG), a weekly event organised around feminist inspired theory and fiction, and an interest in technology-driven emancipation. The project began sometime in 2013 after artist-collaboration Dorota Gaweda and Egle Kulbokaite read the semiotext(e)-published English translation of Tiqqun’s French language Preliminary Materials for a Theory of a Young-Girl. As a book examining the compulsion to consume under capitalism in relation to sexual behaviour, gender, youth and beauty, Gaweda and Kulbokaite were intrigued enough to create a discursive space problematising the network’s open-circuit, defined by a meeting that occurs every Sunday at 7pm, without fail.

In an era when internet-based imagery increasingly represents and brands our understanding of digital inspired art production and cultural intervention, YGRG renewed emphasis on text and theory ‘overload’ offers a potential development in art. This next critical wave returns to text, theory, live reading and new forms of performativity carried out by individuals, collectives, online and IRL to achieve this.

Examples of YGRG’s textual fluidity can be found in locations like Berlin Community Radio, Import Projects, Oracle, Facebook or via Skype. Or in non-branded situations like people’s home, artist studios or public spaces casually occupied.

This year has been particularly productive for the artist collaboration, sometimes referred to as YGRG, but also defaulting to Gaweda and Kulbokaite’s actual names or via other artist collaborations, like d3signbur3au with Catherine Prieto Österberg, collaborating to produce another form of agency, via the post-gender avatar, Agatha Valkyrie Ice.

Museum of Post Digital Cultures, Switzerland-based online platform invited YGRG to realise a curatorial project in relation to the group’s reading and archive. In She wanders through the cities of deserted islands, YGRG address how internet-based art is exhibited and collected. It reflects, of course, the growing number of artists who engage with the online as a standard, rather than an exception. Other projects that have recently supported YGRG’s experimental activities are the exhibition in two parts Agatha 1.2.0.1 at Center project space and the Hilton Hotel in Berlin, produced by Gaweda, Kulbokaite and Clémence de la Tour du Pin and the two year programme for OSLO1O (run under Agatha Valkyrie Ice together with Ana Andra, Zayne Armstrong, Dorota Gaweda, Elin Gonzalez, Egle Kulbokaite and Aaron Ritschard). Agatha Valkyrie Ice, who adopts the pronoun ‘Ai’, is the focus of the former’s invitation with Ai effectively curating the programme between 2015 to 2017. No doubt, the approach will be a test in avatar-led curation, perhaps even the first to be sustained over such a long period.

Many interesting questions about the socio-political effects and cultural and aesthetic influences of the internet are raised in YGRG’s many actions. Backed-up by a long-term engagement with theories that also take the ‘post-’ prefix as its signification, one question that standsout is: after the appearance of so-called ‘Post-Internet Art’, can there be a return to ‘pre post-internet states’? Much like a running river, the assumption is that its influence becomes harder to reverse. Related to the proposition of dematerialising art or  art orientated around events, as seen in Conceptualism and Performance Art, the aesthetic peer-to-peer effects of art and the internet are still to be felt and understood. YGRG’s art offers one direction to follow.

By way of introducing YGRG, the project takes a typically extravagant approach to reflecting on its recent activities via a manifesto of sorts; a hyperlink-heavy selection of quotes, references, aphorisms and assertions, which at times read like concrete poetry, at others, a comment feed on social media.

Taking three months to complete, what began as a simple in-person interview request became emailed questions answered and performed in responses appearing simultaneously, and word-for-word, in other online forums, maximising YGRG’s manifesto-like public utterances. Perhaps what follows can be best described as a kind of data collection with the interview format as its convenient proxy.

Agatha Valkyrie Ice (Dorota Gaweda, Egle Kulbokaite, Clémence de La Tour du Pin) Agatha 1.2.0.1 @ Hilton (10) 2015 Courtesy of the artists With the support of International Flavors & Fragrances and Adrien Figeac (Coty Inc) Photography: Luis Artemio De Los Santos
Agatha Valkyrie Ice (Dorota Gaweda, Egle Kulbokaite, Clémence de La Tour du Pin), Agatha 1.2.0.1 @ Hilton (10) (2015) .Courtesy the artists w the support of International Flavors & Fragrances + Adrien Figeac (Coty Inc). Photo by Luis Artemio De Los Santos.

The Preliminaries

Young Girl, I did love you once.
-Hamlet

Young Girl Reading Group – I thought that was for girls only?
-Anon

i

Let’s be clear: the concept of the Young-Girl is obviously not a gendered concept. The nightclub-going jock conforms to it just as much as the second-generation North African girl painted up to look pornstar old. The spirited telecom retiree that splits his leisure time between the Cote d’Azur and the Parisian offices where he’s kept a foot in the door, and the metropolitan single too caught up in her career in consulting to realize that she’s already lost fifteen years of her life to it—both obey the concept.

Tiqqun’s Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl shares a rhetorical strategy with texts that have been far more widely diffused and discussed, opening with a 10-page excursus sketching the total war that contemporary capitalism wages against anyone who dares oppose it.

Stylistically, Tiqqun operate in the speculative void-space created by situationist-style and Agambenian portentousness—detournement meets poetic ontologizing. The style is assertoric, even where the claims made are highly evaluative. Hundreds of sentences begin ‘The Young-Girl is…’ This grinding repetition is ameliorated only slightly by the use of varied font styles and the insertion of quotations not only from women’s magazines, but also from Baudrillard, Witold Gombrowicz’s 1937 novel Ferdydurke, spiritual instruction manuals and texts on eating disorders.

Tiqqun’s quips about tampons and Young-Girls’ body parts, which they insist are “not gendered,” resemble the cringe-inducing song about seeing actresses’ “boobs” that Seth MacFarlane wrote for the Oscars and Daniel Tosh’s much-discussed off-the-cuff rape joke (:/). In each case, a speaker insists that he is not saying what he says, employing the verbal irony to conceal the misogyny that they actually communicate. Here Tiqqun steps into an old-fashioned patriarchal role.

ii

In reality, the Young-Girl is only the model citizen, the highest point of alienated socialization, where the most socialized is also the most social and she suffers. She suffers from alienation as much as a she does from becoming-image of this alienation. As such, she is a polar figure, representing becoming-Young-Girl more than predominating it. And she suffers from this misogynist identification. What, ultimately, would it mean to let the Young-Girl speak for herself and not through the categories imposed upon her by a culture that heralds her as the metaphysical apex of civilization while simultaneously denigrating her?

Behind every Young-Girl’s arse hides a bunch of rich white men: the task is surely not, then, to destroy the Young-Girl, but to destroy the system that makes her, and makes her so unhappy, whoever she is. Thus, the image of the Young-Girl gives the name to our project and opens up to the problematic networks of ideas to be discussed. This very uneasy relation what we feel towards the Young-Girl triggers the need to commit to YGRG as a space for conversation that develops in a defined moment in time dedicated to examining together the text in question. It names reason as an engine of feminist emancipation, and declares the right of everyone to speak as no one in particular. The Young-Girl here is the one who’s acting:

Let us say SHE for all being, that is, for everything, every time in her essential plural—language speaking for all and of all, in her name, including those who may not have a name … the one through whom she comes to be and happen, which does not speak but is never the less stone fish fiber dough crack block breath. Language says the world; that is, it loses itself in it and exposes how in herselves it is a question of losing herselves in order to be of SHE, that is, to be her meaning, which is all meaning. SHE is ready.

The question has always been of deciding how to position sheselfs within manmade theory, built on truth with its too often thinly veiled misogynistic (under)tones, prejudices, oversights and omissions. We are looking for discourses, or readings aiming towards a visibility of underrepresented positions where the Other gains an agency. We are drawn towards feminist writings both historical and contemporary.We are interested in the interrelationships between gender and technology, in particular, the intersections of technology, power, gender and desire.

Will technological progress determinately destroy institutions of thought on its own, or will political organization need to take over technology beforehand? Can we trust that the inner development of technology will unfold in the “correct” way? Or that technophiliac revolutionaries, for that matter, will seize control of the means of scientific production and immediately redirect its possibilities in a revolutionary way, in Firestone’s mind, to clear the way for the liberation through technology of the link between human biology and human destiny?

iii

Her glands expand. Her mouth waters. So hot rn. Young-Girl reads for everyone with everyone.

YGRG 66 @ eStamina (2015), Import Projects, Berlin. Photo by Grégoire Blunt.
YGRG 66 @ eStamina (2015), Import Projects, Berlin. Photo by Grégoire Blunt.

The Phenomenon

It starts with the name. YGRG as abbreviation is in itself an aesthetic choice.

Then follows the form and distribution. YGRG functions casually on Facebook, where the digital YGRGs weave new networks from what had once been isolated words, numbers, music, shapes, tactile textures and architectures. The individuated texts we choose become filaments of infinitely tangled webs.

YGRG addresses the mutations within the figure of the Young-Girl that follows symmetrically the evolutions of the capitalist mode of production. Over the past thirty years little by little we’ve moved from a Fordist type seduction, with its designated places and moments, its static and proto-bourgeois couple-form, to a postfordist type seduction, diffuse, flexible, precarious and de-ritualized, which has extended the couples-factory over the whole of the body and all social space-time. At this particularly advanced stage of Total Mobilization, everyone is called upon to keep up their “seduction power,” which has replaced their “labor power,” so that they can at any instant be fired and set out again on the sexual market. YGRG aesthetic explores this shiny surface.

 

     The dissemination of art online is now an unequivocal fact, while Facebook becomes a platform for attending as many art openings as there are. This competitive field of online participation acquires its own a science of craft, rules, predictability, theft and imagination. We are all bot-poets. Our identities are somewhat interchangeable, ratifiable.

While Tiqqun focuses on women’s magazines, it is easy to expand their analysis to encompass developments in social media that have taken place since the book’s original publication: the direct facial and self-valorizing imperatives of Facebook, the endless memetic re-postings of tumblr, fashion blogs, and so on. But what does this domination of the Spectacle really mean?

The Web has become a mirror for the ego of an absent but very present author. Reposting we render self in a pseudo-post-binary world. We wish. lol

The self, converted to the selfie.

YGRG 74 @ Museum of Post Digital Cultures (2015). Image: Dorota Gaweda. Artwork: Antoine Renard, 'String Figures, Multispecies Muddles, Staying With The Trouble' (2015). Courtesy the artist.
YGRG 74 @ Museum of Post Digital Cultures (2015). Image: Dorota Gaweda. Artwork: Antoine Renard, ‘String Figures, Multispecies Muddles, Staying With The Trouble’ (2015). Courtesy the artist.

2

The Technique of the Self

“In truth, Freud sees nothing and understands nothing.”
– Deleuze

She is the middle.

With the exhibition She wanders through the cities of deserted islands at Museum of Post Digital Cultures [where?] we are searching for a visibility of underrepresented and marginalized positions, attempting at presenting new possibilities for digital cartographies, aided by the museum’s Google Earth inspired format. The infrastructure of the website facilitates the creation of non-linear narrativity, where links create networks opening up to a multitude of pragmatic possibilities of their use, which enables us to create a fictionalized YGRG archive. Only when digital networks arrange themselves in threads and links, footnotes begin to walk all over what we once saw as the bodies of organized texts. Hypertext programs and the Net are webs of footnotes without central points, organizing principles, hierarchies.

She is the middle.

Aiming towards the becoming-visible, becoming-prominent, we adopt a she as a main character.  We have been consistently developing this she in a series of texts called for a future (2013-).   

           she is your sister.

her name is agatha or valkyrie ice. she speaks her ideas to her others in color, music, gesture and specially made concoctions of the liquids still unknown. She cannot, does not want, and is ready for everything

  She’s in the soup. A Protoctist Naiad of Klamath Lake, dressed in a broth of post-terrestrial outfits.

In moments of anxiety she makes shallow rifts, initials cris-crossing the topical landscape, intricate patterns across the surface of their skin: carefully wrought, parallel lines, rectangles, circles.

She wants superior forms of corruption.

She wanders through the cities of deserted islands. She drifts through the exhibition in the Museum of Post Digital Cultures that unfolds over the consecutive Sundays in May and June—following the original YGRG format and expanding on the YGRG archive with non-linear fictionalized narratives, constructed through background artwork, text, image and link constellations. Taking as a point of departure our immediate environment, we construct a story that can be read from any one point leading to any other. One finds within the story no end and no beginning, only middle, lines of flight; she brings us closer to the de-territorialization of our own subjectivity.

She wanders through the cities of deserted islands and reads through selected chapters of:

Simians, Cyborgs, and Women by Donna Haraway

zeros + ones by Sadie Plant

Caliban and the Witch by Silvia Federici

Flesh & Stone by Richard Sennet

The Dialectic of Sex by Shulamith Firestone

Testo Junkie by Paul B. Preciado

—texts that we find particularly relevant after two years of YGRG meetings.

She is a portrait of an immortal androgyny, she lies formless in the middle, unlike a tree or their roots. She connects any point to any other point, and her traits are not necessarily linked to traits of the same nature; she brings into play very different regimes of signs, and even nonsign states. She is the fluctuating center.

She is there where we end and where we begin, on the limits of the cities of deserted islands, becoming a denominator both within our texts and, as we hope, within language.

YGRG 81, OSLO1O (2015), Basel. Image: Egle Kulbokaite.
YGRG 81, OSLO1O (2015), Basel. Image: Egle Kulbokaite.

3

The Social Relationship

We started the Agatha Valkyrie Ice project by creating and developing a fictional post gender character, ‘Agatha’, within an existing confined framework of social media: facebook, soundcloud, snapchat, tumblr, tinder, 3nder, grindr, etc. Going through each of the existing categorizations including age, picture, gender, date of birth, body features, weight, diet, hobbies, interests, family status, height, sexual preferences etc..

We attempted to insert Ai within established systems and observed and analyzed the clashes and controversies this move created. Ai is our consideration of what a post gender person can be today — totally generic and post-sincere, shameless in mixing different stereotypes of individuality to the point where there’s a new confidence in being unoriginal.

         Agatha still lives in profiles that currently open up as sites for all forms of expression. Agatha exists in parallel to the realities of YouTube clips of cats, of playing guitar or dancing, dogs dressed as humans, Sunday hobbyist instructional videos, Museum of Internet and eBay wish lists (called ‘my swag’.) Agatha has become a companion species, here to think with and to invent a body and a sexuality of one’s own. Agatha is immersed in a constant process of becoming; a loop of re-posting, re-staging and re-appropriating expressed in textual form, on social media as well as IRL.

      Through a multiplicity of voices Agatha is articulated in the world of materials as moments of performance, installation, sculpture or constellation of scents, as was the case for instance in Agatha 1.2.0.1 (in collaboration with Clemence de la Tour du Pin). Agatha is being transformed into a materialized agency through actions that involve inserting Ai into positions of responsibility as the director of OSLO1O . We see that we live in a world surrounded by multiple types of becomings of which we are an integral and fluid part. We see Agatha as a possibility to #buildyourown#body, to achieve various forms of becoming, such as becoming-woman, becoming-animal, becoming-molecular, and becoming-imperceptible.**

YGRG’s next reading is on at Berlin’s Humboldt University EEG Lab on Sunday 16 August, 2015. Readings include Nina Power’s One Dimensional Woman and Michael Hardt’s Affective Labour.

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