In the summer of 1992, a billboard popped up overnight on the side of an art gallery in Sydney, Australia. Eighteen feet long, it featured a strange assortment of images: spherical fragments of DNA, vaginal wedges of color, and a pair of mirrored women with unicorn horns, flexing their muscles and emerging from seashells. In the middle was a blob of text, rendered convex as a bead of water. WE ARE THE VIRUS OF A NEW WORLD DISORDER, it read, DISRUPTING THE SYMBOLIC FROM WITHIN. SABOTEURS OF BIG DADDY MAINFRAME. THE CLITORIS IS A DIRECT LINE TO THE MATRIX.
Not a moment too soon, the Cyberfeminists had arrived.
The impetus for the 6m x 3m billboard which took its title from the Cyberfeminist Manifesto for the 21st Century was an invitation in 1992 by Jeff Gibson from the Tin Sheds Gallery in Sydney to be part of the Watch This Space project. A large empty wall, facing a busy arterial road in inner city Sydney was the site. VNS Matrix gave image to their 17-line text via digital composition, the 6m x 3m billboard measuring a huge 19mb in size! Such was the state of the art/technology. The image featured the spherical bubble of the manifesto in the centre of a sigil-like composition, as if coming to rest, naturally, on the neck of a naked and breasted androgyne flanked by 2 very queer hybrid creatures.
This central body calls to mind a blasphemous anti-Atlas bearing the new world disorder on its shoulders; a rodin’s thinker, unmastered and giving birth to the future unmanned. The hybrid creatures flanking the thinker are both primordial and futuristic, fantastical and fierce, with their penetrating head horns and with shell exoskeletons holding aloft their torsos, riding the waves of a future. Mythical dreams of the idea of what a “future female” could be. The creatures were made to speak back to the chrome fembot of nerdy coder-bro dry dreams, Silver Suzy. With laser vision they guard the new world disorder and biohack patriarchal gender-norms. Molecules dance, cybercunts send signals into deep space and lines of wild flight arise from the immanent ur-world of slime.
The original billboard was censored for public display, the word “cunt” was replaced by “kunst” (German, “art”).
In recent times, VNS Matrix have had discussions about whether to remake an uncensored version of the billboard, but decided that this bit of cultural information, specifically about the word cunt and about censorship more broadly, must remain folded into the layers
that create this work.
There is also a cigarette burn on the nipple of the naked breasted figure. The billboard was well within the reach of viewers, and if anybody had cared to deface the billboard, it would have been easy. The cigarette burn is the only scar it bears.
It resides now in the collection of Griffith University Artworks, along with the Bonding Booth Video and some light boxes and sound works.
The poster announces a new era in cyberfeminist art-one that comments ironically on masculine fantasies of domination from a new postmodern space of feminist revisioning. The poster offers a radical alternative co-phallic desire.
- Digital Image
- Billboard Project Watch This Space. Tin Sheds Gallery, Sydney
- Exhibition All New Gen. Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide
- Exhibition All New Gen. ACCA, Melbourne
- Survey Exhibition Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Museo de Bellas Artes, Bilbao, Spain
- Survey Exhibition Dark Rooms: Women Drecting the Lens. Griffith University, Brisbane
- Survey Exhibition The Public Body .02. Artspace, Sydney
- Exhibition Producing Futures - an exhibition on post-cyberfeminisms. Migros Museum, Zurich
- Watch This Space billboard project Tin Sheds 1992 program [pdf 101.03KB]