This issue of May was conceived around a series of texts by three women writers/artists who express, through a bio-fictional-essayist form, their current conditions of living, thinking, and working. We worked on the current issue over a period of six months in New York as the debates emerging from the #MeToo movement and regarding cultural appropriation became more intense in art communities. Instead of addressing directly the moralistic and essentialist dimensions of these binary representations, this issue of May was first imagined as an attempt to initiate a space for writing, to offer some perpectives that could propose another understanding of the new form of “cultural war” we are experiencing now in the Western art world.
Thus, a text by Elise Duryee-Browner directly confronts the paradoxes and perversions of #MeToo and proposes alternate interpretations. The author has already published an essay in a previous issue of May on the effect of the election of Donald Trump on New York liberal society, where she deconstructed the dualist vision of the Left and Right political spheres by comparing this to the lateral activities of the human brain. In this issue, Duryee-Browner reflects upon her own situation as a young woman in an effort to understand women who, in acting like men in order to end male domination, ultimately ignore what they are destroying. Looking at the intense confrontations between men and women, she finds problematic the loss of the capacity to legislate—to make the laws, or in the Jewish religion, to interpret them—and pleads for “a cultural revolution that needs to happen, not simply women/non-Western cultures inhabiting the core of male/Western power” (to borrow her words).
Three short stories by Cecilia Pavón provide lucid insights into her life as a writer in Buenos Aires: the celebratory opening of a very well-known female British artist, Trish; the preparation of her own living room, where she teaches writing workshops; and a dystopic fiction piece featuring an H&M store being suddenly flooded, whereby she considers the relationship between conventions of clothing and gender that are imposed or assumed of women writers. Although the author’s writing style could seem lighthearted or even frivolous (“domestic poetry” as Chris Kraus puts it), she plays with a seemingly minor voice, using her everyday life as a way to circumvent the apparatus of institutionalized provincial literature.
Reflecting upon the replacement of human creativity by artificial intelligence, Georgie Nettell proposes further perspectives to preserve the conditions of creativity in a “hacked” neoliberal society. Within the context of Brexit, recalling that the referendum was manipulated by Cambridge Analytica with weaponized big-data programs, Nettell reflects on the progressive transformation of liberal democracy into a system that can be hacked, as with human creativity, like an electronic device.