Terminal and the Center of Excellence in the Creative Arts at Austin Peay State University are pleased to announce the launch of Chastity and The Council on Gender Sensitivity and Behavioral Awareness in World of Warcraft by Angela Washko. Washko is the recipient of a 2012 – 2013 Terminal Award. The Terminal Award is granted annually to four artists to help in the creation of new internet based artworks.
Mobilizing communities and using play, I am an artist and facilitator creating new forums for discussions of feminism where and when they do not exist. These forums are created through actions, interventions, videos, and performances- sometimes in video games. I am dedicated to researching and ultimately changing unhealthy, unrealistic, limited, and object-oriented projections of women throughout different forms of media by creating public works that challenge our implicit acceptance of everyday inequality.
My most recent project, “The Council on Gender Sensitivity and Behavioral Awareness In World of Warcraft,” is a long-term research-based initiative I launched to create spaces for dialogue about feminism inside a video game with a community that is notoriously misogynistic and aggressive toward women. I am interested in the unusual political space that evolves within WoW. It takes quite a lot of effort to ever break into the social aspects of the game. One has to make a fairly serious commitment to the game (undergoing lengthy tutorials, quests, learning characters’ skills, finding equipment, fighting dragons/goblins etc.) to ever make it to the point where they are in a guild and regularly communicating with large groups of people. Because of that barrier between the committed and the dabblers, a unique social community is created in each realm of World of Warcraft that few know about, despite the game’s widespread popularity. The blatant discrimination, homophobia, and extreme sexism that persist are not a result of the developers’ aesthetics, but the community of avatar-hidden individuals that play it. I am creating videos from performances inside of World of Warcraft that investigate the relationship between female players and the intensely complex social communities within WOW. I am working on instituting a system in which players in my community are forced to take responsibility for their oppressive behavior, help to create an environment that encourages women gamers to participate, and present performances and videos to a non-MMO-informed public that is unaware that these communities exist.
In addition to making projects inside video games, I also create videos and participatory installations. My works are all linked by a dedication to using play to address the contemporary power structures that women are faced with – whether they are within video game cultures, pop music, advertising, collectives, or the intense networking environment of the “Art World.” Ultimately I aim to subvert these power structures by infiltrating cultures in which they are evident, addressing them publically, bringing visibility to subtle (and not-so-subtle) discriminatory acts in contemporary culture, and ultimately mobilizing communities to actively change those structures through open discussion and collective action.
Angela Washko is an artist and community facilitator devoted to mobilizing people and creating actions, interventions, videos, and performances (often in video games). She is currently working on a project called “The Council on Gender Sensitivity and Behavioral Awareness In World of Warcraft – earning her the Terminal Award and Grant, a Danish Arts Council Grant, an upcoming fellowship and residency at HIAP in Helsinki Finland, and a solo exhibition at Austin Peay State University. She has also recently curated the Conflux Festival 2012 at NYU. She has recently performed or participated in exhibitions at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, Spattered Columns (NYC), Microscope Gallery (NYC), NURTUREart (NYC), Momenta Art (NYC), New York University (NYC), and Gowanus Studio Space (NYC), among many others. Washko has participated in artist residency programs at Contemporary Artists Center (Troy, NY), The Fabric Workshop and Museum (Philadelphia PA), Flux Factory (NYC), Gullkistan (Laugarvatn, Iceland), and HIAP (Helsinki, Finland). Features on Washko’s work have appeared in Rhizome, the New York Times, Hyperallergic, Time Out NY, Digicult, ANIMAL NY, and Gothamist.