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LARACROFT:ISM :on female heroines
March 24th
The Swiss Institute
495 Broadway, 3rd floor

With Manuela Barth, Barbara U.Schmidt, Jenny Althoff

In Oct. '99 Manuela Barth and Barbara U. Schmidt started the "LaraCroft:ism" series of projects (see: www.laracroftism.de, in German only). The aim of their events, publications, performances is to ascertain the effects which the digital media have on the ideals of femininity - from the ways women look to the careers they choose. The notion that everything is manageable and feasible with new technologies promotes the images of new 'power girls' which deviate - at least superficially - from the traditional stereotypes. Barth and Schmidt will introduce "LaraCroft:ism" and report on their new project, the video film "The Ultimate Game Girl". It is about the recent presentation of 'power girls' in technology and lifestyle advertising and in recruitment advertisements for IT careers. In order to discuss the ambivalent aspects of emancipation and commercial exploitation of this development they will examine:

1. The presentation of women's careers in the field of Information Technologies

2. The transfer of qualities like 'youth' and 'femininity' to technological products

3. The technology and lifestyle advertisements for young female consumers

Jenny Althoff, born 1970 in Oestersund, Sweden was educated at the Sculpture Department, Konstfack, Stockholm and received her MFA at Visual Arts Division, Columbia University, NY. Her work has been exhibit in USA and Europe. In her artistic practice, different individuals and/or professionals are commonly invited to participate or collaborate. Exploring subject matters such as identification, social interaction and hierarchy in contemporary society, the projects often take an anthropological/sociological approach. Architectural elements and new media are used in order to create a space where the viewer can step in and interfere.

At the panel discussion Jenny Althoff will present her project "Hunters andCollectors", shown in Berlin last year. Starting point for this project was questions about how young people relate and identify themselves with heroes/heroines, with the experience of computer games, and the aspect of gender regarding this activity.

The video installation "Hunters and Collectors" consists of material deriving from various sources, interviews with members of a so-called Gamers Club, collected drawings of the game heroine Lara Croft by different age groups, and footage of a young woman during her training to reach a personal goal.