The Weapons We Become

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Anderson, Patricia J
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The Weapons We Become speaks to the disconnect in expressions of identity in between digital space and the real. This series consists of coiled, burnished, and smoke-fired vessels and figures that include fiber aspects to weave an exploration of the identities or personas expressed in spaces that are often hostile to IBPoC and queer peoples. All too often we are subjected to bigotry, hate and exclusion, leading to the expectation that we embody a warrior persona who always is ready and emotionally available to defend our right to occupy space and face off against all antagonism. This unreasonable expectation that marginalized people have an infinite well of emotional fortitude is imposed, unwelcome and yet still somehow almost universally practiced. Many IBPoC, Queer people and allies are choosing to embody the digital warrior by carving out spaces in hopes of existing peacefully, refusing to allow shared spaces to ignore or omit them and thereby asserting their intention to thrive. Others can choose other options. It is here that the perceived anonymity of digital spaces acts as a double-edged blade; in digital space, everyone is the default until they state otherwise. “There are no girls on the internet” is a common meme from the early internet days that clearly reflects the erroneous assumption that everyone online is a cis white male from the US unless they specify otherwise. This defacto assumption simultaneously erases all other ethnicities, genders and sexualities, as well as contributing to an environment where internet users often choose to not disclose, or even invent whole identities, when interacting online for their own safety. Jose Muñoz’s disidentification theory describes this identity/non-identity as a subversionary survival strategy used by non-majority peoples in the real; I am exploring disidentification theory as it can be expressed in the digital world. This digital space was created with the noble intent of an existence beyond and without the baggage of real-world concerns like race, ethnicity, and economic standing. Unfortunately, it has had the unintended consequence having developed a default persona mirroring those of its known creators. The corner stone of digital spaces is built upon this foundation of the status quo, and while efforts continue to retrofit the system to accommodate the variety of human experiences, there continues to be an abundance of spaces where the development of alternate identities has become a safer means of participating. This multiplicity of digital identities goes beyond the ‘code switching’ found in non-digital life where language use changes in relation to those of other cultural norms. Instead, what we find is actors crafting personas that neither agree with or overtly oppose the majority but use majority cultural signifiers to subvert and expose the systemic exclusionary nature of systems, shrouded in costumed identity. Choose your skins, choose your weapons.
Digital culture, Traditional Practice, Other, Ceramics