GSRC PhD reading group – Legacy Russel’s ‘Glitch Feminism’
Words by Hannah Curran-Troop (City) and Annelot Prins (FU Berlin)
In our recent GSRC PhD reading group, we had the delight of discussing Legacy Russel’s brilliant manifesto, Glitch Feminism. As a text characterised by cyberculture and online community, it felt particularly pertinent to discuss this in the virtual space of zoom, and within the wider digital context of Covid-19. Drawing on cyberfeminism, queer studies and afrofuturist theory, Glitch Feminism represents an exciting manifesto and decolonial art historical text intended to empower artists to speak for themselves. In exploring the creative practices of queer, trans, and nonbinary communities of color, it argues for the potentials of the internet to play with gender, away from the surveillance of the IRL world.
Two chapters that most stood out in capturing Russel’s analysis were ‘glitch is error’ and ‘glitch is remix’. In ‘glitch is error’, Russel asks us to reject the notion of glitch and error as malfunctions or faults. Instead, Glitch Feminism re-imagines the terms as strategies of resistance, refusal and non-performance. Through this frame, Glitch becomes a tool for revolting against the status quo, disrupting existing power relations, and for forming a digital feminism of non-white perspectives. ‘Glitch is remix’ similarly shows us the potentials of technology to rearrange and reposition what she terms ‘the original recording’ (133). In this way, to remix is to trip the wires of gender binaries, to escape the boundaries of such confinement, and exist in ways that are not possible away from the keyboard.
In contrast to the lineages of cyberfeminism, which are, for the most part, overwhelmingly white, Russel aims to redefine the movement through amplifying `the visibility of historically othered bodies’ (26). And by centering the voices of Black and queer artists throughout the text, Glitch Feminism offers a new and nuanced analysis of the radical potential of the internet. Another key contribution Legacy Russel makes through her manifesto is to platform and celebrate emerging and underrepresented artists including the likes of boychild, Juliana Huxtable, Victoria Sin, American Artist, Lil Miquela, Tabita Rezaire, among others. We’re looking forward to Legacy Russel’s forthcoming Verso book, Black Meme, which will be part of next year’s GSRC PhD reading list.