petek, 7. marec 2008

Interview with Austrian artist Evelin Stermitz

How did you come to the idea to create a net art project World of Female Avatars?

I was artist in residence at the Art Center Slovenia when I began to occupy with the topic of female bodies. It was a photographic project combined with interviews and I was asking women what they think about their bodies. I realized it is very hard for them to talk about it, and I also realized that many women live without the consciousness about their body, so I investigated this topic further.

What is the project about?

The aim was to create a kind of world or space for women, as a digital world. It was also a contribution to the feminist discussion and an artistic survey on the female body through the virtual space.

How were the avatars created?

I sent an open call out to women to contribute with their pictures and thoughts about their bodies. The works are anonymous and therefore maybe more truthful. I collected the images of the participants, created digital collages and put them online.

Was it also about the freedom of expression of the body?

In virtual space we can be anybody, it is a question where the freedom of the body is. In our everyday lives we usually repeat stereotypes.

What about male contributions to the project?

I can not control, if only women send the avatars for the project, but that was not the aim. I intended to create an open platform for everyone who has something to say about the female body. It is not possible to control the biological sex of someone virtual. In virtuality some kind of third sex is created.

How would you comment the possible threat of human beings swallowed by virtual reality?

I would not be so much afraid of this. Virtual reality is just another tool we can use, it is a kind of an expanded thinking. It is a new technical reality, we have to learn to live with.

Where do you see the connection between art and activism?

I think it is very crucial for artists to be involved in activism and in reflecting the society. If artists just passively show works in the galleries, it is also just a small part to evolve changes or impacts on society. Activism sees the function of an artist also as a public intellectual and is rooted in performance, installation and more. I think art and feminism needs more public action!

How will the project continue?

The project is still open for submissions as a life time project, you can find it online at

Lenka Kukurova

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