Opening September 15, 2017, 7–9pm
Conversation with Angela Washko and Stephanie Rothenberg: 7:30pm
On view through December 9, 2017, Tue–Sat, 12–5pm
The exhibition contains sexual scenarios and may not be suitable for audiences under 18.
Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center is pleased to announce a solo exhibition by Pittsburgh based artist, Angela Washko, opening September 15th. Featuring Washko’s latest iteration of her video game The Game: The Game, the exhibition invites audiences to engage with the world of pick-up artists from the point of view of a femme presenting person. The opening will feature a public conversation between Washko and artist Stephanie Rothenberg. A newly commissioned essay by Dorothy Santos accompanies the exhibit.
The Game: The Game is a video game presenting the practices of several prominent seduction coaches (aka pick-up artists or PUAs) through the format of a dating simulator. In the game these pick-up gurus attempt to seduce the player using their signature techniques taken verbatim from their instructional books and video materials. The game sets up the opportunity for players to explore the complexity of the construction of social behaviors around dating as well as the experience of being a femme-presenting individual navigating this complicated terrain.
The Game: The Game is a continuation of BANGED, a two year-long project during which Angela Washko interviewed Bang series author and manosphere figurehead Roosh V, and tried to get in contact with his alleged sexual partners. After working on BANGED, the black and white ways in which this field has been portrayed through the media seemed too simple and unfair to all parties who encountered it and provoked this question: Is practicing “game” inherently wrong and dishonest, or can it be practiced in a way that simply levels the dating playing field in favor of those who are otherwise socially or physically disadvantaged? By disguising the most notorious PUAs alongside “game-less” individuals and PUAs-in-training, and placing the player into the often unsafe position of trying to distinguish between them all, Washko hopes to add levels of complexity to public conversations around both pick-up and feminism which have both found themselves presented in highly polarized, dichotomous positions in mainstream media.
“One of the most fascinating aspects of The Game: The Game is the ability to respond to words taken verbatim from Pick-up Artist (PUA) instructionals. PUA culture may seem marginal to most, restricted to specialized DVDs and obscure internet forums, however interacting with The Game: The Game provides a much more subtle understanding of these social behaviors in our culture. Dating-simulators have a history of depicting disturbing behavior, presented with a normalizing touch and from the perspective of a male; The Game: the Game, has players embody a woman who is the target of PUA’s, upending the genre’s conventions. The images–abstract, dark, with disturbing or absurd details, and static like most dating-sims–work in tandem with Xiu Xiu’s low beats and drones to illustrate a systemic nature to the behaviors on display. Crucially, the game’s depiction of male aggression is anything but simple. Washko’s long-term research has been about bridging communities – in this case feminists and the manosphere – to understand each other outside of their echo chambers. The multiple paths and possibilities in the game allows the player to safely explore these behaviors through replays. It’s an essential work, giving us a nuanced view of how desire, violence, and complicity function in our day to day lives.” – Ekrem Serdar
Biography of Angela Washko
Angela Washko is an artist, writer and facilitator devoted to creating new forums for discussions of feminism in spaces frequently hostile toward it. Since 2012, Washko has operated The Council on Gender Sensitivity and Behavioral Awareness in World of Warcraft, an ongoing intervention inside the most popular online role-playing game of all time. Washko’s most recent project, The Game: The Game is a video game presenting the practices of several prominent seduction coaches (aka pick-up artists) through the format of a dating simulator. In the game these pick-up gurus attempt to seduce the player using their signature techniques taken verbatim from their instructional books and video materials.
A recent recipient of a Franklin Furnace Performance Fund Grant, a Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art at the Frontier Grant from the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, and a Rhizome Internet Art Microgrant, Washko’s practice has been highlighted in Art in America, Frieze Magazine, Time Magazine, The Guardian, ArtForum, ARTnews, The Hairpin, VICE, Hyperallergic, Rhizome, the New York Times, Neural Magazine and more. Her projects have been presented nationally and internationally at venues including Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art (Helsinki), Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Milan Design Triennale, the Shenzhen Independent Animation Biennial and the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Her writing has been published in Creative Time Reports, FIELD Journal of Socially Engaged Art Criticism, Copenhagen University Peer Reviewed Journal (NTIK), Neural Magazine, VASA Journal of Images and Culture, .dpi Feminist Magazine of Art and Digital Culture, ANIMAL NY and more.
Angela Washko: The Game: The Game 2.0 is presented in conjunction with the Digital Humanities Group at Canisius College & the The Department of Art at the University at Buffalo. Squeaky Wheel’s exhibition programs, residencies and events are made possible with generous support by the County of Erie and County Executive Mark Poloncarz, the National Endowment of the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and individual members, businesses, and supporters.