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Ira Konyukhova

Re-construction of “Femininity”: The Question of Gender in Art in Times of Artificial Intelligence-Technology

Beginn des PhD-Programms / Start of the PhD-Program: SS 2020

Betreuung / Supervision:
Gloria Meynen

In her PhD, Ira Konyukhova will explore the influence of contemporary technology on the social construction of gender while incorporating VALIE EXPORT’s less scientifically explored body of work 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 imaginary for a possible genderqueer future. Starting this work in the late 1980s, EXPORT questioned the common concept of gender (exposé for the non-realized film “Grenzenlose Liebe”), examined possibilities of bodily extensions as well as media representations and constructions of femininity and feminine identity. Konyukhova builds her analysis and artistic reflection on contemporary AI-technology upon EXPORT’s lecture “The Real and It's 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 analysing 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 feminine and reproductive role. Decades after VALIE EXPORT’s reflections on the topic, Ira Konyukhova is concerned, how the queer-, cyber- and xeno-feminist theories and latest feminist struggles updated the exploitation and the limiting of the feminine within the technological field. Here, she is 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 done 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 gender relations are replicating themselves within and with the help of the new technology as well as the contemporary construction of the binary gender system.

For this, she takes the manufacturing of the heteronormative lesbian identity of Yulia Volkova and Lena Katina as a starting point, both members of the Russian pop band t.A.T.u., which enjoyed international success in the early 2000s – the time right after VALIE EXPORT’s 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 country, as well the destigmatisation of vibrator usage), while on the other hand protecting the heteronormative female identity as victimised, fragile, young and submissive. In her PhD project, Ira Konyukhova will elaborate and contextualise t.A.T.u.'s image construction into the broader usage of empowerment movement/statements for video content creation by pop-starts and instagram influencers for commercial purposes.

Kurz-Biographie / Short Bio
Ira Konyukhova is an artist, writer and instagram feminist activist. She studied Physics in Moscow and Fine Arts in Mainz, Reykjavik and finished her diploma studies in Media Art and Media Theory at Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design (HFG) 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 etc. Konyukhova was grantee of Rhineland-Palatinate Media and Film Promotion Prize, BS Projects Residence Program as well as of the ifa travel grant. She also is a founder of the online and offline publication TransitoryWhite, which explores transcultural decolonial artistic production on post-soviet and post-communist spaces. Konyukhova's works and writings may be found on www.kair98.com

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Ira Konyukhova