Laila Torres Mendieta: “The Mythical Xeno-Droids”, Researching the materialization of a genderless feminism

Advisor/tutor: Bassam el Baroni

Independent reviewer: Bridget Crone

Arnhem, July 2015

 

Abstract

Are authoritative forms of social relationships cognate only to humans, are they only constrained to corporeity and thus to gender?

Without the necessity to contest epistemological postures on feminism and parting from my own position as an artist, this research is a skeptical dissertation of the already existent voices around gender politics and art. Although critic in its basis, the aim of this essay is trying to find the relevance of this movement in contemporary times and the form art influences this updating process. By channeling the voices of theoreticians like Sadie Plant, Donna Haraway, Amanda Beech, Thomas Sankara and Nick Land among others, I propose a discourse that although rooted in the feminist ideology also aims to go beyond this perspective and reflect upon a broader understanding of identity. The hypothesis of this research roams around spheres like science fiction, economy, biology, media, technology and activism as they inevitably intersect and progress creating cartography of the same query. Thus gender, rather than a form of given identity is approached as already a natural state of plasticity of the self, which is essential as embodiment and interstice between body and image, both placed, learnt, constructed and influenced by current sociopolitical and cultural phenomena.

Rather than a finished research, this paper that takes the form of a master thesis is as well, in its core, an intellectual exercise on power; as power is helplessly bound to gender politics, and thus to the symbolism of a corporeity entirely colonized by a pretension of sovereignty.

 

Review

This is a lively essay with a great title! In fact your title "The
Mythical Xeno-Droids: Researching the materialisation of a genderless
feminism" offers much enticement to the reader as does your passionate
introduction (Love Letter to the Mother) and the conclusion. However,
there is a need to more closely define the terms that you evoke
immediately at the start of the thesis and the questions that they raise
such as, why are xeno-droids mythical, what do you mean by
materialisation and what might a 'genderless feminism' be? More specific
attention to these aspects of the thesis would have made it even
stronger, rather than focussing on giving a general history of (some)
feminisms as you do in the first chapter (Roots of feminism, Grandmas of
liberation).

The thesis is at its very best when you write in a creative way, and so
there are some great passages of writing ­ for example, the "Love Letter
to the Mother" contains some interesting ideas concerning destroying the
self in order to enter into a process of becoming, and also the idea of
seeing 'the alien face to face' brings up interesting ideas of
self-representation, otherness and becoming which you address in the
later part of your thesis. Well done on a creative and thoughtful piece
of work. (Bridget Crone)