The Future Is Female: Five Women Artists Are Designing a Revolution

Do you want to fuck capitalism, dismantle the patriarchy, and draw upon your own humanity to create a world that’s sustainable, ethical, and peaceful to live in? If you answered, “Yes,” you might be a Future Feminist, and the Hole might be the place...

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Sep 14 2014, 2:00pm

Are you a lady tired of living in a man’s world? Are you a man tired of living in a world controlled by a handful of other men? Do you want to fuck capitalism, dismantle the patriarchy, and draw upon your own humanity to create a world that’s sustainable, ethical, and peaceful to live in? If you answered, “Yes” to any of these questions, you might be a Future Feminist, and the Hole might be the place for you.

Right now at The Hole gallery on the Bowery, the Future Feminists collective is unveiling their Thirteen Tenets of Future Feminism. “Tenet activation” performances are held nightly at 8 PM—they started the series on September 11 and it goes until September 27. The collective consists of five, self-identified frontier women artists: Bianca Casady and Sierra Casady of CocoRosie, Antony of Antony and the Johnsons, and performance artists Johanna Constantine and Kembra Pfahler. Featured performers include the likes of Lydia Lunch, Marina Abramović, and Laurie Anderson. 

VICE: Can you describe the Future Feminists collective?
Johanna Constantine (JC):
Future Feminists, as a group right now, is consisting of the five of us. We couldn’t find anyone, in our personal lives or outside, to discuss these issues [of feminism] with, because people were saying it’s unnecessary, it’s outdated, and we didn’t feel that that was correct. The words Future Feminist were coined by Antony, and we’ve just kind of applied it to everything we’ve been working on. We’re looking at it as a new wave.

Kembra Pfahler (KP): Dark times require loud voices, and we got together to formulate a very clear message and to make an incantation for these times, to envision a utopia that has not yet been realized. [We are] allowing ourselves to admit that we have dreams that we want to have come true, rather than just pretending or giving up, the way that they gave up in the late 60s when they realized that the revolution would never happen and it was over. If anything’s over, it’s over for the patriarchy.

Recently, your collective took to the Williamsburg bridge and asked passers-by to pose for a photograph with a sign reading, “THE FUTURE IS FEMALE.” Given the current political climate, some might see that as an aggressive, contentious statement. Could you clarify its intention?
JC: Absolutely. It’s a future that we envision for everyone, meaning female systems and female processes and female spiritual principles. That’s the Female that we’re talking about. Also, looking at the past, it’s always been male hierarchies and male systems and male decisions for years and years, and it’s run us into the ground. So, we can look at the past as male and the future as female. 

Antony Hegarty (AH): [In] past incarnations of feminism there’s been a movement towards integrating equal rights for women within the world’s system. We’re not interested in equal participation within male systems. We’re interested in designing and implementing new, feminine systems in order to create a sustainable future, not only for ourselves but for biodiversity and for the future of nature.

Bianca Casady (BC): I also think a lot about this idea that things haven’t been gendered, even though things have been very male-centric, especially with religion and language, with who’s predominantly in the limelight. Basically, we’re all so used to the male image being the common denominator image that it’s also this illusion of neutrality. So when we say "a female world," or "feminize the planet," we actually are looking for restoring the balance. Women have been having to pencil themselves into the male story, and it’s a conditioning process which we’ve even stopped noticing. It’s shocking to suddenly have that shift, to propose that men have to start trying to fit into female archetypes. We’re inviting that process, which is awkward and uncomfortable and something that the planet’s not used to.

Where do you see feminism fitting into this country’s future? In the world’s future?
BC: Your question reminds me of the subject of racism, which comes up a lot. And throughout observing this concept of racism in conjunction with feminism, I started focusing more and more on the idea of racism against the female race. It’s a really touchy subject, of course, but we do have a tenet that talks about setting a global standard which is not partial to any culture. Women need to be treated at this particular standard everywhere, and we can’t make exceptions according to different cultures and different religions. We’re taking a pretty clear stance that women deserve to be treated humanely and ethically and have power over their own bodies.

AH: And equal access to every area of civic and political life.

JC: And also not to be denigrated for our natural qualities. It’s constantly being said that women are too emotional, we’re too soft, and it’s like what, why don’t you check your testosterone? Why are you angry all the time? Why are you aggressively wanting 15 percent more money than this other guy? To be higher on the list on Forbes? Why is that shit important? We’re constantly being pushed down for these natural inequalities that are actually quite valuable. They’re not to be dismissed. They should be cherished and held up as a critical solution, not a weakness.

AH: Empathy, emotionalism, intuition, connectedness to the earth through menstruation—all of these are reasons why women have been disqualified from participating in the rational political conversation. In the past, feminists have been loathe to identify their biological differences or to validate this notion that men and women are different physically or constitutionally, because they’ll only be more penalized as a result of it. Even now, some of our heroes are loathe to use words like feminist to identify themselves for fear it will diminish their access or ability to participate in culture or society. We are not afraid to embrace the differences between men and women, precisely because we want to elevate those primary, archetypal differences in the feminine form and feminine processes as our governing processes.

BC: It’s important to state that we really are anti-neutralist, and it’s because of these feminine qualities. We want to highlight those and promote them and protect them, and if we are trying to operate equally, there is the chance of a sort of diminishing or watering down of those feminine qualities. That would be a huge loss, which is why we’re taking such a particular stance that may sound extreme.

AH: Every man is a boy, was a mother’s son. And every boy has to become accountable again to their relationship with their mother—defer to feminine divine which is the giver to us all in the practical sense and the biological sense. It’s not to say that women innately, or any one individual of us, has something divine or some wisdom over any particular man. It’s just a movement with the consciousness of us as a collective—and as a species.

With regard to this sensitivity and connectedness to the Earth, do you find that technology creates a disconnect, or has it empowered you to explore these themes in new ways?
KP:
It’s 2014, the future’s here. We can’t survive and we can’t exist unless we acknowledge that this future that people wrote about in the 60s, the strange, android, computer-ridden, technologically fueled future [is here]. We’re really living that now, and our level of consciousness hasn’t risen to the level of consciousness of technological improvements. Our consciousness is still very turn-of-the-century.

AH: There’s an [Iroquois law] of seven generations that’s very inspiring to all of us, to not take an action or make a development in society or technology that you can’t guarantee won’t have a positive impact on a child in seven generations time, and that’s what’s pushed aside in this race towards technology and capitalism. What we’re looking at is a system to regulate this unbridled, virulent capitalist application of new technologies.

BC: Technology doesn’t have to answer to any part of morality. So in a way, it’s about who’s controlling the technology.

AH: And where’s the regulatory body that has enough power to advocate for the best interests of our species and our planet? Because it seems to be dwindling away.

Finally, if you could distill the Future Feminist ideology down into one message for the men and women of the world, what would it be?
AH: The 13 tenets of Future Feminism, but it’s mutable. There could be more than thirteen.

BC: I keep talking about feminizing the planet. I don’t know if this is new language but it keeps coming out of my mouth.

JC: Feminatus Super Totus! 

The Performance Schedule:

Sunday, September 14: The Factress aka Lucy Sexton, Clark Render as Margaret Thatcher, Laurie Anderson

Wednesday, September 17: Narcissister, Dynasty Handbag, No Bra

Thursday, September 18: Ann Snitow speaks with the Future Feminists

Friday, September 19: Kiki Smith presents Anne Waldman, Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, and Anne Carson

Saturday, September 20: Kembra Pfahler and The Girls of Karen Black

Sunday, September 21: Lorraine O’Grady

Wednesday, September 24: Marina Abramović

Thursday, September 25: Carolee Schneemann, Jessica Mitrani, Melanie Bonajo

Friday, September 26: Terence Koh as Miss OO

Saturday, September 27: Viva Ruiz, Julianna Huxtable, Alexyss K. Tylor

Follow Katherine Tarpinian on Twitter.