While we organised our exhibition Digital Luv, curated by GIRLS co-founder and curator Laetitia Duveau and I spoke about all aspects of digital life. How do artists use their creations to express themselves? Is it possible to promote equality in art with digital tools? Does the internet increase visibility for artists that we normally wouldn’t hear about? After the exhibit, we got together to speak about those and other topics more in depth.

Artwork by Nikki Pecasso
Artwork by Nikki Pecasso

Nicolas Simoneau
Since almost a year now, you’ve been successfully running curated by GIRLS (CBG), a platform that promotes visual artists based on diversity, equality and freedom…

Laetitia Duveau
Yes, I became a curator by accident, but I’m really proud of the work I’ve done and all the amazing artists we’ve featured. I’ve just started organising In Real Life (IRL) shows; the first one “Freer in Berlin – New Femininity“ in October was unexpectedly successful, followed by “Poster Boys” in November and “Digital Luv” with you guys in December…

Nicolas
Do you think that being a female-curated collective makes a difference in what you showcase compared to other art platforms?

Laetitia
I guess it does – to me my platform isn’t different because I’m a female. What makes it different is the identity I bring to my decisions. Of course, I’m a female and CBG is a female collective; we have our own sensitivity and history, and we focus on giving a voice to those who’re not being equally represented.

Feminism is an important fight and we take it seriously, but we are also concerned with other fights… CBG is a platform for and about diversity. We want everyone to feel connected with and represented by our platform.

Nicolas
What does being a feminist mean to you and how does that apply to CBG?

Gif by Sasha Katz
Gif by Sasha Katz

Laetitia
Feminism is about equality. Everyone should be a feminist. Are you a feminist? 🙂

Nicolas
I guess so. In the sense that I want men and women to be equal in every single way.

Laetitia
To me, feminism is all about respect, love and equality. Women are obviously human beings and should be treated with the same respect as other human beings. It’s as simple as that. People debate about feminism, about its meaning, its importance, but they often don’t understand that words are just words, and by simply talking about it doesn’t mean that they are doing something to change the mentality…they are just nourishing their brain, their ego.

Nicolas
I recently did an interview with Nikki Pecasso and she said something I totally agree with: “Western culture has created barriers for women wanting to freely celebrate their womanhood. Women who celebrate their sexuality get slut shamed, verbally harassed, assaulted, and frowned upon. Enough is enough! There needs to be more sex-positive art and sex-positive spaces for women to explore and celebrate their sexuality. Fuck the patriarchy!”

Artwork by Nikki Pecasso
Artwork by Nikki Pecasso
Artwork by Nikki Pecasso
Artwork by Nikki Pecasso

Laetitia
I totally agree with Nikki. We are fed up with stereotypes and censorship. Art can play a huge part in breaking down barriers. Digital_Luv provided a wide spectrum of today’s women. All 12 artists had different approaches. A few were purely aesthetic, but most of them sent powerful messages of life, love, sexuality, ego and society.

Nicolas
Yes, I agree that the artists incorporated strong messages in their work – they used art to express themselves and this is always something I look for. It was great to see art being used to express so many different things, from the physical body and facial expressions of Mike Pelletier to the critique of mass consumption by Sasha Katz.

Gif by Sasha Katz
Gif by Sasha Katz
Gif by Sasha Katz
Gif by Sasha Katz

Laetitia
And I think that is what you meant with fighting for feminism, that’s one thing but there are so many other things to fight for right now…

Nicolas
Definitely. Feminism today is more than just fighting for equal rights for women. It is much bigger than that – it’s about fighting for equality for all, and feminism is a part of it. Feminism is not one thing but it’s about all of us.

Laetitia
I agree, but you can only fight those fights you know. When you are a woman living in a patriarchal society and working in a sexist industry, fighting for women’s equal rights becomes an everyday thing. But as you said, we should fight for equality no matter the gender, culture or race. We are all humans and we are all the same. Maybe if we stopped putting labels on people, we would see the world as a whole.

Nicolas
Exactly. Do you think that in digital art specifically, there is a stronger and bigger feminist movement taking place?

Laetitia
I think women have always been creating art. The difference is that now their work is more visible, especially thanks to the internet.

Nicolas
I agree. I also feel that thanks to technology, it is much easier to access art through the internet, and the traditional model of patriarchy is starting to fall apart. Artists that are pushing gender and feminist issues are getting more and more visibility.

Laetitia
Did you feel that our exhibition was criticizing „the digital“?

Nicolas
No, I didn’t. On the contrary, I think it was a celebration of using new technologies to create art. I’m thinking for example of the VR movie “VIENS” by Michel Reilhac. If we look at “digital” in a way that includes social media, it was also a form of criticism. Leah Schranger’s work showed that aspect.

Laetitia
True, “Digital_Luv” was a celebration of digital technology and about showing the world as it is today. Social media is a huge part of our real world. We are more and more connected to the digital world but less connected to each other. We want to tell the world, “look at me!” but we don’t look at each other. We are looking at our own reflection in the mirror all day long – on Instagram, on Facebook – trying to sell ourselves to everyone. I see so many people getting depressed, developing narcissism, becoming self-obsessed because of the pressure of social media. They want to be loved, followed…

As you already said, Leah Schrager kind of makes fun of social media censorship with her selfies “Safe for Social Media”, which are nude pics with no nudity in them. I think her selfies are a good example of how manipulative social media can be.
What does the relationship between humans and the digital world mean to you?

photography by leah schrager
Photography by Leah Schrager
photography by leah schrager
Photography by Leah Schrager

Nicolas
For me it’s very complicated. Of course we need to progress technologically, and it’s amazing to see what the digital world can do for humanity. But there’s always a negative side to it. It’s really easy to get trapped in social media. I see people doing everything to get one more click or like, to create visually pleasing versions of their lives in order to pretend to be someone they aren’t. Personally, I use social media for work, and I have my own Facebook account. When I am on Instagram for work, it gets me depressed. I see all these beautiful pictures with beautiful people, and it makes me sad. It’s not real life, but I don’t want to play that game; I don’t want to spend hours fantasizing
about something that isn’t real.

Laetitia
We invented the digital world to make our lives easier. Did we succeed? I’m not so sure. We should look at it for what it is: a tool. The monster isn’t digital or social media – it’s us.

Header photography by Leah Schrager

To keep the conservation going:
www.curatedbygirls.com  or on Instagram: @curatedbygirls
www.leahschrager.com or on Instagram: @leahschrager
wwww.nikkipecasso.tumblr.com or on Instagram: @bonercandy69
www.sashakatz.com or on Instagram: @wonderkatzi
www.michelreilhac.com or on Instagram: @michelreilhac