The making of a feminist

19th May, 2020Live productions

The making of a feminist is inspired by the complex entanglement of human and computer ‘intelligence’ in a time of crisis, in collaboration with Improviser Maria Sappho and Prof. Dubravka Pokrajac based at the University of Aberdeen.

’Invisible Women’, a book by Caroline Criado Perez, exposes data bias in a world designed for men. From government policy and medical research, to technology, workplaces, and the media, it reveals how systematically, half of the population is ignored, often with disastrous consequences.

These data biases are only heightened in times of conflict, natural disasters, and pandemics, when lives of women are disproportionality affected by higher risk of infection, sexual abuse, and domestic violence.

COVID-19 has demonstrated society’s inequality ‘beautifully’; not just for women but any minority, evident through the horrific injustices experienced by BAME communities.

My recent collaboration Painting Music used Artificial Intelligence to create music from live painting. This production centres around the question ‘Is AI good or bad?’, showing figures play, struggle with, search for, and appeal to ‘intelligence’. This has now been placed in new context where the data bias of women’s experiences is considered. It is a scary thought that the ‘logic’ of an imbalanced society is in turn amplifying disparity by also informing the ‘intelligence’ of our computer algorithms.

The making of a feminist captures a figure battling with ‘intelligence’ governing her world, yet also with her internal conflict towards embracing feminism. In quarantine I used for the first time myself as life-model creating 125 drawings. The sound composition enhances the domesticity of lockdown commenting on the associations of so-called women’s chores.

Thinking of major self-imposed dangers facing humanity a more balanced or women-only leadership is much better suited, for choosing and promoting collective rather than competitive effort. The way female-led governments have tackled COVID-19 is a good demonstration of how that would work.