As the feminist gains of the past 50 years are slipping away, most notably with the repeal of Roe v. Wade, feminist artist Judy Chicago teamed up with Nadya Tolokonnikova, of the collective Pussy Riot, to transform her “What if Women Ruled the World?” series into a participatory art project. This new version is enabled by blockchain with the hopes of spawning a Web3 community dedicated to gender rights.
The series’ question was at the center of a series of works that Judy Chicago made in 2020 for a Dior catwalk. The banners, large textile works in gold, purple, and green fabrics, each represented a response to it. “Would there be equal parenting?” asked one banner. Another posed the query: “Would there be private property?”
Now, anyone with an internet connection can respond to these inquiries.
On the Web3 platform DMINTI, and on a related website, Chicago’s series of banners, each with their own question, are clickable. A form follows where the viewer can respond to the prompt in 150 characters, or with an image. Selected responses will be gathered and made into an NFT.
Tolokonnikova is well connected in the NFT community, and earlier this year helped found and run Ukraine DAO, which raised $7 million to aid Ukrainians. She and Chicago announced this new art work at the ICA Miami on Thursday.
“We want men and women all over the world to think about how we can reclaim our humanity, reclaim how to talk to each other, and most importantly enough, to reclaim the planet,” said Chicago at the late night panel.
Naturally, the first person to submit their response to Chicago’s “what if women ruled the world” questions was Tolokonnikova.
The two met to record Tolokonnikova’s responses at Chicago’s home in New Mexico. Chicago recalled that she felt incredibly emotional as she and Tolokonnikova worked through the questions. Yet she noted Tolokonnikova wasn’t quite as effected, and Chicago asked her why.
“I can’t stop thinking about her response,” said Chicago. “She told me that during her trial”—over “hooliganism” in Russia back in 2012—“she taught herself how to control her emotions, because ‘I didn’t want to be the little girl that Putin made cry.’”
That trial that aimed to put the Pussy Riot members in jail for staging a protest-performance in a church that led to Tolokonnikova’s imprisonment and time in a labor camp.
With this new work, Chicago and Tolokonnikova hope to speak back to the despotic rulers who have attempted to quash gender equality, encouraging people around the world to consider a more positive future in the process.