A project by Brenda Guesnet and Kiona Hagen Niehaus the recipients of the 2016 Women’s Art Library and Feminist Review Living with Make: Art in the Archive Research Bursary, supported by The Showroom
Performance night, 11 November, 6–9 pm
Join us for a reception with performances by Kiona Hagen Niehaus, Erica Scourti, and Paul Maheke. The artists imagine a communal sense of belonging by intertwining instant and mediated forms of communication, blurring the boundaries of physical and digital presence.
Open Day, 12 November, 12–6 pm
Visit the Internet Cafe with works by Kiona Hagen Niehaus and others, attend public conversations with various local organisers (TBC), and contribute to an ‘Internet Cafe Kit’ that will be stored permanently in the Women’s Art Library and be downloadable online.
Ever heard of CYBERIA? Judging by the small, blurry, picture of its shop front, paired with a cringe-inducing pun for a name, we might easily draw the conclusion that it was nothing more than a geeky gimmick.
In fact, CYBERIA marks a striking moment in the mid-90’s: it was the first commercial Internet Café in the world. Founded by Polish MA student Eva Pascoe and located in the heart of London, CYBERIA was set up specifically as a space for women to share knowledge and resources surrounding the strange new world that was the Internet in 1994. Although the café quickly became so popular that the women-only policy was abandoned, the project resonates with the optimism many feminists had at the time regarding online spaces and virtual reality. These technologies seemed to offer the possibility to escape the restrictions of our bodies and the oppressions imposed upon them, and to inhabit a world where anything, including a feminist utopia, was possible.
More than twenty years later, Internet Cafés are disappearing spaces by many definitions. Most of us no longer have to be physically present in a specific room in order to be online, and it has become impossible to draw a clear line between our ‘virtual’ and our ‘offline’ lives. And while online spaces have certainly allowed many groups within feminism to form and thrive, we also know that power imbalances in the ‘real world’ are reproduced, if not heightened, on virtual platforms.
We therefore ask if the Internet Café, in the initial spirit of CYBERIA, can function (again) as a common, utopian space for communities to share ideas, tools and knowledge, as well as to have access, through the Internet, to resources that lie outside of its physical space. Is it possible to recover ‘the Internet’ as a common good? Is this useful or worthwhile to artists and organisers involved in feminist, queer, anti-racist work? In short, can we envision a community-oriented, cybernetic resistance in our contemporary urban context? This on-going investigation is showcased through a prototype Internet Café space, artworks, performances, and public conversations with experts and activists. The public is invited to contribute ideas and objects to an ‘Internet Café Kit’, which will be permanently stored in the Women’s Art Library and loanable to anyone who wishes to use it, as well as downloadable online.
MORE INFORMATION AND FULL PROGRAMME: http://www.theshowroom.org/events/cybernetic-resistance-feminism-the-archive-and-the-first-internet-cafe