“In defying this patriarchy we are loyal to future generations and to life and to this planet itself” (From the introduction to Ecofeminism by Maria Mies (Germany) and Vandana Shiva (India), 1993; new edition, 2014)
The dramatic spread of Covid-19 results from the extremely interconnected global world we live in. As one, we have been asked to step back from our largely capital-focussed world and individualistic tendencies, to be more community-minded in sacrificing our agency and ‘freedom’ to save the lives of others.
Ecofeminist theories argue that modern Western capitalist societies are built upon the exploitation of women and natural resources, matched with the praise of capital and intense labour. Whilst, Ecofeminism is built on principles of cooperation rather than competition. It is about ‘connectedness and wholeness of theory and practice. It asserts the special strength and integrity of every living thing’ (Ynestra King).
Covid-19 is proving we cannot continue to live individualistically and so, as a response to the crisis, feminist collectives around the world are coming forward with new alternative policies and governance proposals that are more ‘community-centred’ and gender-mainstreamed.
It is now evermore obvious that neoliberalism and capitalism do not protect minorities and marginalised groups, and this we must resist.
But, are we as a global body ready for such change? Ready to live beyond consumer culture? There will be many lessons from Covid-19, but how many will remain sustainable and survive to create tangible change?
As people think wearing a face mask can protect them against the Coronavirus, there has been an extreme face mask shortage all over the world. Allison’s face mask is created with plastic waste and thread lace, as plastic waste is something we globally won’t run out of any time soon. Ironically, the mask exists out of multiple see-through layers. “Even with our face masks, hand sanitizers and toilet paper (if you’re lucky), how protected or safe are we, really?” Allison asks.
“If artists and the art community try to make the most out of this situation and if they keep supporting each other, they will get through this. Let us together as an art community, that is stronger than ever, spread positivity and encourage each other. Don’t panic and keep creating. It’s crucial that artists keep their heads up. We need to stay positive. Not only because we owe it to ourselves, we owe it to the community. Seeing how artists keep creating spreads hope and positivity to other members of our society. Maybe our work makes someone smile, offers them a way to relate or gives them some unexpected support. The world needs us.”
Beyond the illness itself, the rapid onset of the pandemic has transformed daily life in the US, rapidly shuttering daily commerce, crushing small businesses, and grounding flights. Society went from sanitizer to insanity overnight, now plastic gloves and face masks are the norm.
The edge is closer than we think, but illusion won’t free us from reality, even as the sustained narrative of tabloids becomes history and the myth of progress continues to perpetuate inequality. Globalization has moved forward unevenly and no-one can say where this “New Frontier” is leading us. As the natural world is liquidated and substituted with an artificial one, the social landscape becomes increasingly fractured and alienated. No longer in focus, all grand narratives dissipate in the space of post-history, as technological dependency diminishes the tangibility of our experiences. The medium has swallowed the message.
Our time is marked by mass extinction, diminishing resources, global pandemic and climate change. As the vices of the first world burden the third, the skeletons of old factories serve as caveats of growing inequality. The silent landscape is a symptom of a world exploited beyond use and increasingly reduced to a bottom line. Political dissidence is drowned out by the white noise of the media, as it sedates the social psyche with empty promises it proposes for the future it truncates.
Working across different media; film, video, installation, photography, sculpture, sound and text, Heydt presents an abstract proposition for a world on the periphery of history, one that not only appears haunted by the ghosts of the past, but built on it. Conflating time and place, her layered imagery collides, merges and disrupts logical relationships between occurrences. Through adding and subtracting meaning by combining images of destruction with portrayals of the virtues born from the American Dream, Heydt confronts the disillusionment of our time with the ecological and existential nightmare it is responsible for.
Video | £250
‘Touch Screen, Touch Me’ connects the public and the private, drawing from the viral internet phenomenon and personal experiences to search for meaning in our ever connected digital age. Looking to draw attention to the difference between our online and offline personalities, and how these blurred lines obscure how we build trust and foundations for real meaning in our relationships. In a time of social isolation and physical distancing our online connection and communities are more important than ever. ‘Touch Screen, Touch Me’ takes on new values and questions whether we can create real relationships, friendships and communities online that transfer through into our physical spaces once we step back out into the outside world?
‘Touch Screen, Touch Me’ reimagines the artist as an AI companion struggling to comprehend the complexities of modern dating. Having downloaded her potential suitors’ internet histories it develops three different personas: the ‘desire object’, the ‘new independent’ and the ‘recovering hurt’ to try to represent the perceived desires of others while redefining themselves as a thinking and feeling machine. This work plays through the pangs of alienation one can experience through shifting personal relationships, renegotiating the boundaries of relationships with friends, family and love interests during a period of self discovery.
Sheroes is a collaborative project that highlights hidden herstories through the arts.
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Allison Lee is a Belgian artist who permanently resides in Arizona. She studied visual arts in college and went on to study audiovisual arts and animation. Her body of work includes paintings, mixed media illustrations and textile, embodying the versatility of a multidisciplinary approach to making. She fuels her artwork with both antagonistic and appeasing motives and she is determined to make a difference through art during this global pandemic. She is currently very active in the online quarantine art movement. Her work has been shown in several galleries across the United States and she had her first museum piece exhibited in the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles in 2019.
Sam Heydt (born April 20, 1986) is an American social practitioner and recycled media artist born/raised in New York City. Although currently residing in Vienna, Heydt has lived/worked in Paris, Venice, Amsterdam, Athens, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Reykjavík and Rajasthan. Her academic career traversed Parsons School of Design, The New School, Cooper Union, University of Amsterdam, Universitdad of Buenos Aires and La Sorbonne. In 2012, Heydt launched Jane Street Studio, L.L.C. in Manhattan. Since it was established, the photo studio has broadened its performance to provide both design and marketing consultation in addition to art direction. Its growing roster of clients span Europe, North & South America, Asia and Oceania.
In addition to this entrepreneurial undertaking, Heydt has attended artist residencies in Iceland, Australia and New Zealand, where she has documented different forms of environmental exploitation. A published author, producer and lifelong activist, Heydt has undertaken a range of altruistic, non-profit work. Her art, anchored in social advocacy, attempts to give a voice to the veiled, forgotten, exiled, and silenced.
In her practice, she works across a spectrum of different media; film, video, installation, photography, sculpture, sound, merchandise and text, employing a range of materials, often reinventing or trespassing their associative use. Heydt’s vision looks beyond the ordinary. Esteemed as one of the pioneers of the recycled media movement, Heydt’s work has been shown in galleries, museums, art fairs and film festivals worldwide.
Using participation, installation and sound, Marley’s practice connects intimate moments of family, love and grief and confronts them with the ideals of an internet age. Self-depricating self-help tapes, feminist book clubs for our female AI companions and performative social media readings are the artists way of coping with the contrasting desires for genuine connection and the seductive fake personas of our online lives. We are constantly fed targeted information and advertisements which influence how we present and curate our lives, meaning that our offline and online selves are now bleeding into one.
With a Masters from The University of the Arts London, she has most recently exhibited with The Ugly Duck (2019), Camden Arts Centre (2019), Leyden Gallery (2018), The Crypt Gallery (2018), Stanley Picker Gallery (2017) and The Free Range (2016).