Female Makers

Belgrad, Make Me Festival, 2011

Belgrad, Make Me Festival, 2011

Clones
In 1977 Rosabeth Kanter published her theory on the clone-effect (or “homosoziale Reproduktion” how she called it in German). Her theory suggests that people find it easier to enter social environments if they know that people with similar interests/attitudes are already part of this environment. She calls these people “clones”. The feminist hackerspace supports to think radical ideas and allows for radical ideas to be articulated. The comfort of sharing future plans with like-minded people is empowering. I want to call the participants who feel like they belong to the feminist hackerspace “clones”. They recognize each other as similar to themselves – sometimes for obvious reasons, sometimes the similarities remain obscure. It might for example be a shared experience of discrimination or a mutual passion for technology. Many of the clones coming together in feminist hackerspaces also want to invent new forms of collaboration and collaborative work. The high amount of mutual identification, the risk of sharing ideas and resources brings along insecurity, hand in hand with the fear to loose ground and get exploited. Trust in the new structure and the agents working in it has to be created in countless meetings and conversations. It needs to be part of the feminist hackerspace’s program. This worked really well in a workshop that was lead by Manuela Zechner who is a researcher and cultural worker focused on care, collective processes and social movements. She is based in Vienna and finalizes her PhD at the British Queen Mary University, UK. She conceptualized the workshop around the issue of „care“. It is based on the Theater of the Oppressed where Manuela asked participants to imitate a working process by playing different roles in a small performance. Soon the group started to crack out in laughter since the individual roles were so precisely portrayed in the improvised performance.

Another very positive turn was taking place during a workshop in Offenbach after a MBL’s “noise toy”-workshop. At a male dominated music festival a group of female workshop participants took over the stage. They performed with their self-made instruments in front of a speechless male audience. Their performance started an intense discussion on access to electronic music festivals.

The hardware crash course by Helga Hofstätter ended with cheering female hackers, taking apart hard drives to turn them into art pieces. Hofstätter is singer and activist in Vienna and her hardware crash courses can be experienced at MBL.

Sudden changes of scripts become possible, if groups with radical structures are manifesting new rules. Mostly out of the blue, participants who were shy and feeling insecure, start to be fearless and original in their behavior. Undisputed roles can start to melt when clone-groups take action.This might not be recognizable as a form of resistance, but it in fact can lead to awareness about the potential of feminist makers. This way gender scripts are slowly loosing their dominance and new horizons open up.

At the same time the shift in a group of clones can spin off new concepts and demands. A re-calibration of the usual scripts allows participants to take new risks and create newly narrated identities.

Make Me Eclectic Festival 2012

Make Me Eclectic Festival 2012

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