Aesthetic Techniques and the Gendered Body: Towards a Narrative in the ‘Expanded Field’

Category: Theories

Data-stories Conference, ΙΑΚΑ, University of Thessaly, June 2019

Elpida Karava, Silas Michalakas, Valia Papastamou & Ioanna Zouli (Centre of New Media and Feminist Practices in Public Space

From the start of its function the Centre is dedicated to organise series of seminars looking into existing hybrid feminist art practices but also to contribute to the production of new practices that deal with technology, social media, the violence against women as a theme, and post-gender practices of personal and sexual identity and to investigate through art practices how their expressions vary widely and are strongly differentiated by their local political cultures and social conditions, temporalities and economic cycles. This year’s seminar was dedicated to Feminist practices in the globalised technological era, with invited guests artist Vassiliea Stylianidou aka Franck Lee, visual anthropologist and filmmaker Alexandra Donofiro and performer and writer Erica Scourti.​

The ongoing project, which started during the yearly seminar of CNMFPP, coordinated by the artist Vassiliea Stylianidou aka Franck Lee. Franck Lee invited participant students to work on the events of two killings that recently shattered greek society. The murder of Zak Costopoulos aka Zackie Oh, at the centre of Athens and the murder of Eleni Topaloudi at the island of Rhodes. These two recent events of extreme public violence, homophobia, misogyny, and the public narratives produced around these issues became the starting point for a project around technology and vulnerable bodies. Zak Kostopoulos’ / Zackie Oh!’s inhuman lynching and murdering in a public view in the center of Athens not only happened in time proximity to the rape and killing of Eleni Topaloudi in Rhodes, but it is also the symptom that indicates the vulnerability of specific, targeted bodies. The female* body as well as the body of queer and trans* subjects, is perceived as a vulnerable body in the public space, as a body without protective tissue. The participants in the seminar searched the images and the narratives that circulated in the media regarding these two cases. Trying to understand the similarities and distinctions, the hierarchy of the circulated information regarding the gendered particularities of these two murders. During the seminar we have worked with image and discourse analysis for deconstructing modes of representation, incorporating the contemporary feminist theories and multi modal narratives: oral, textual, sound and visual, which Franck Lee intoduced in a performative way (mattering as simultaneously materially and representational)  that initiated the process and discussions undertaken by the students. Franck Lee’s performative call turns our attention to the examination of the device itself  in order to understand and ‘interlock the connections between the social, the natural world and the ‘vital’ corporeal ‘embeddedness’ of the human in the non human’.