PhD Candidate Junior Fellowship 2019 – 2021
Re-construction of "Femininity": The question of Gender in Art in Times of Artificial Intelligence-Technology
In her PhD thesis, Ira Konyukhova will explore the influence of contemporary technology on the social construction of gender, incorporating and reconsidering VALIE EXPORT’s less scientifically explored body of work she created in the 1990s. At this point of her career, VALIE EXPORT focused on the techno- and cyberfeminist ideas in order to create a new potentiality for a genderqueer future. Starting with the work by the late 1980s, EXPORT questions the common concept of gender (exposé for the non-realized film Grenzenlose Liebe), examines possibilities of bodily extensions as well media representations and constructions of femininity and feminine identity. Konyukhova builds her analyse and artistic reflection on contemporary AI-technology upon EXPORT’s lecture The Real and Its Double: The Body as well as on the unrealised film script The Virtual Body. From the Prosthetic to the Post-biological Body, while continuing the tradition of analysis of constructs of femininity as a litmus test for the sociopolitical changes within the techno-capitalist society.
VALIE EXPORT observes the exclusion of women from technological progress by the phallocratic society, which seeks to reduce the “other” body to the reproductive and caring role. The decades after VALIE EXPORT’s reflections on the topic, Ira Konyukhova is interested, how the queer-, cyber- and xeno-feminist theories, feminist struggles and achievements in the last 30 years (particularly, since the dissolution of Soviet Union and a time of intense globalisation) changed the questions about gender in technology. Here she’s interested in gendered virtual assistants, its misuse for sexual and violent purposes, chatbots for sexual and soulful requests, sex androids and dating apps, which maximally automate the selection of a partner. Based on the research by VALIE EXPORT, which connects politics, feminine corporeality and technological dragging (changing and perfectioning of the “natural body” with the help of so-called “prosthetics”), Konyukhova will analyse how the gender relations are replicating themselves within and with the help of the new technology, also in her own artistic practice.
For such, she’s taking as a starting point the manufacturing of the heteronormative lesbian identity of Yulia Volkova and Lena Katina, both members of the Russian pop band t.A.T.u., which enjoyed international success in the early 2000s – the time right after the VALIE EXPORT theoretical and artistic reflections on technology, media influence and gender. t.A.T.u.’s identity and public image were on the one hand, incorporating contemporary technological and democratic achievements into the sexual sphere (the popularity of t.A.T.u. coincided with the dissemination of the internet and, consequently, porn web-platforms in the post-soviet territories, as well the destigmatisation of vibrator usage and same-sex relationships), while on the other hand - despite their obvious homosexual self-representation - protecting the heteronormative female identity as victimised, fragile, young and submissive.
Ira Konyukhova is an artist, writer and instagram feminist activist. She studied Physics in Moscow and fine art in Mainz, Reykjavik and Media Art and Media Theory at Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design (HFG), which she finished with diploma in 2017. In her practice, she explores the connection between female sexuality, pop-resilience and colonial technological practices which are embodied mainly but not only in video, sculpture and installation. Her works have been presented on various international festivals and exhibitions, including DocLisboa, Athens Biennale, Teneriffa Espacio del Arte, Exground Film Festival e.t. Konyukhova was a grantee of Rhineland-Palatinate Media and Film Promotion Prize, BS Projects Residence Program as well ifa travel grant. She’s is also a founder of online and offline publication TransitoryWhite, which explores transcultural decolonial artistic production on post-soviet and post-communistic spaces. Konyukhova's works and writings might be found on www.kair98.com