STUK - House for Dance, Image & Sound, Leuven
artist / participant
Angela Washko. Point of View
February 18 – April 25, 2021
Curator: Karen Verschooren, STUK
STUK is delighted to present the first European survey exhibition of American artist and interventionist Angela Washko (b. 1986).
Angela Washko is devoted to creating new forums for discussions of feminism where they do not exist. She actively seeks out new ways to facilitate or enter into conversation with individuals and communities who have radically different ideas and opinions in an attempt to create spaces for discussion, productive dissent and complexity. Throughout her practice, she investigates how power structures are embedded into our collective consciousness through media. A life-long gamer, her work takes the form of performance (in both virtual and physical spaces), actions, interventions, video games, videos, prints and books.
In her solo exhibition in STUK, Point of View, Washko is presenting four bodies of work: The Council on Gender Sensitivity and Behavioral Awareness in World of Warcraft (2012-2016), Heroines with Baggage (2011-2014), BANGED (2015-2017) and The Game: The Game (2016-2019).
In 2012, Washko founded The Council on Gender Sensitivity and Behavioral Awareness in World of Warcraft with a goal to facilitate discussions with other players about the misogynistic, homophobic, racist and discriminatory language used within the game space. Instead of just continuing to "go on quests and kill stuff," she created a series of video-documented performances—two of which are included in the show—in which she initiated and facilitated conversations about gender and discrimination within World of Warcraft.
For her video series "Heroines with Baggage," Washko started to replay the 1990s role-playing video games which were formative to her as a child. Upon replaying these games, it became clear to the artist that the women represented were frequently portrayed as collapsing, running scared, afraid of being alone, and always in need of rescue by a male protagonist. By constructing videos featuring only scenes focused on female characters from these games, Washko makes the presence of these stereotypes and oversimplified gender binaries visible and woefully obvious.
"BANGED" is a series of works Washko created around the figure of Roosh V, "the Web’s most infamous misogynist" and a professional pick-up artist. A leader of the manosphere (an online anti-feminist network mobilized around the notion that men are more oppressed than women), Roosh V has written numerous books on how to have sex with women across cultural barriers as quickly as possible. His tales of sexual conquests were widespread, however never giving voice to the women involved. During the process of soliciting stories from these women to create a parallel compilation to his stories and texts, Washko ended up doing a video interview with the manosphere figurehead himself. The interview video along with performances and books about her experience with the manosphere community afterward make up the "BANGED" project.
Resulting from continued research into the pick-up artist (PUA) community is the last body of work presented in the exhibition: The Game: The Game. Composed entirely of scenarios, techniques, and language from texts and instructional videos created by pick-up artists, The Game: The Game is a feminist dating simulator video game designed to give players the experience of interacting with a series of infamous pick-up artists and seduction coaches. It is accompanied by a haunting musical score composed by Xiu Xiu.
The exhibition Point of View is part of a series of solo exhibitions in STUK by contemporary visual artists who have a particular affinity for the moving image and spatial video installations. Previous exhibitions in this series include Mircea Cantor - Am I really free?; Sebastián Díaz Morales - TALK WITH DUST; Mika Taanila - THE END; Nevin Aladağ - ROLLIN’; Omer Fast - Appendix; Joachim Koester - Maybe this act, this work, this thing; Emre Hüner - Neochronophobiq; John Akomfrah - Auto Da Fé; and Bjørn Melhus - The Theory of Freedom.
(b. 1986, Reading, USA)
Angela Washko is an artist who creates new forums for discussions about feminism in spaces frequently hostile toward it. Her practice spans interventions in mainstream media, performance art, digital works, video and video games. She recently finished a documentary film about RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Mrs. Kasha Davis titled Workhorse Queen.
Currently Associate Professor of Art at Carnegie Mellon University, Washko is the recipient of a.o. the Creative Capital Award and the Impact Award at Indiecade. Her practice has been highlighted in The New Yorker, Frieze Magazine, Time Magazine and more, and her projects have been presented internationally at venues including Museum of the Moving Image (New York), Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Milan Design Triennale, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art (Helsinki), and Shenzhen Independent Animation Biennial.
On February 18, Angela Washko will host an online artist talk on the opening night. In the lecture, Angela will walk the audience through her research and practice, focusing on the works in Point of View. The talk will close with a participatory play-through of Washko’s feminist video game about pick-up artists, The Game: The Game, facilitated by the artist. Please register via this link.