Challenging Power Structures


Tim Burton, Ed Wood, 1994

“(…) If the baby is a boy, and he reaches for the bow and feather –then you´ve got a boy, the way tybos figure, whose human-being sex story is the way every boy´s sex story had better be. If the baby is a girl, and she reaches for the gourd and basket- then you got a girl whose human-being sex story is the way every girl´s sex story had better be.

But if the boy reaches for the gourd and basket, or if the girl reaches for the bow and feather, then in tybo, you got a boy or you got a girl whose human-being sex story is a sex story you got to shut up about.

In Indian there are words for you if you choose the way most babies don´t choose. I don´t know how you say them in Indian, but I know they´re not at all like the tybo words. In Indian, they mean either “basket-man” or “bow-woman”. There´s the Word Berdache, too.

Ida told the store of my test this way:

“(…) There we were, the four excellent whores of Excellent, Idaho, and this baby boy. The Princess puts a feather and a bow on one side of the kid on the bed. She puts a gourd and a basket on the other side of him. Then she says to us, “Watch!” So, we match. The kid does nothing but lay there. We watch some more. He lays there some more. I´m about ready to give up on this test when the kid rolls over. First time in his life he´s rolled over! We all gasp and cheer and talk baby talk. Then, you´ll never believe it –what this kid did, you´ll never relieve: he reaches up to me! To me! He grabs a hold of my feathers- my feathered boa!”

Spanish Version

Tom SPANBAUER, selected by Sara FUENTES

SPANBAUER Tom, The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon, (pp. 12, english version) (pp. 25, spanish version)




“I called the game killdeer because of the bird. Heard my mother tell a customer once that she liked the killdeer bird because killdeer placed a trick on you. Trick was, killdeer acted like her wing was broke so that fox or coyote would follow her away from her nest.

One day I found a killdeer bird and followed her. That´s just what she did-played as if her wing was broke so I´d follow her away from her nest.

Thought that bird was pretty smart to do that.

I was a lot like that bird.

The killdeer game was I was looking for something, but I didn´t know what I was looking for. Was killdeer I was looking for.

Trick was, though, if you acted like you were looking for killdeer, you´d never find killdeer.

You had to be killdeer.

Something else with the killdeer game-if you didn´t want somebody to see you, they couldn´t see you.

Couldn´t match the bird, couldn´t find the nest, couldn´t  see me”

Spanish Version

Tom SPANBAUER, selected by Sara FUENTES

SPANBAUER Tom, The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon, p. 12, (english version) and p. 25 (spanish version).

Avatar vs Agent

We find within popular culture a range of fictional forms – a spectrum, if you will. At one end, we discover the Avatar. At the other end, we encounter the Agent. (Let’s immediately rule out the theological use of the word Avatar as used in Hinduism, which in English is roughly translated to manifestation or incarnation. Instead, let’s want to focus on its circulation in current culture.)

Sticking with pop culture, the Avatar is most associated with the graphical representation of a user. In this sense, the Avatar is a fictional form created by an individual outside of that form: a sort of hard pixelated shell to be filled with content by that external force. The Agent is similar, also a computer generation. The Agent, however, uses his or her awareness of his or her presence within a fictional universe to control the ‘bodies’ (or hard pixilated shells) of other avatars.

So like an Avatar, an Agent is also assigned agency by a force outside of its existence. However, he or she makes the content him or herself, and at best, IS the content him or herself. Remember here the bullet dodging and gravity defying abilities of the Agents in the Matrix. They use what they have to rethink what agency is. The comparison of the Agent position to the Avatar position is useful because unlike an Avatar, an Agent holds an acti

ve subject position that claims power and re-distributes that power (even if this is usually distributed toward or within him or herself).

What happens when we apply this metaphor to trends in contemporary art?

Some of the most relevant practices today are those that in fact are taking up the voice, frame, and attitude of the Agent. Let’s take the Bruce High Quality Foundation for example. The collective is made up of five to eight rotating and anonymous members who have gone so far as to operate behind a mask in public.

Goldin+Senneby on the other hand have not remained anonymous, but instead send experts in their place to craft their physical tangible shape, their work, and perhaps one could add, their identity. Knowing their history with research of making and selling contemporary art in Second Life, I would argue that their new work Headless takes up the position of Avatar with a new kind of cheek.

An Agent can take full responsibility for his or her decisions, words and actions. Can an Avatar do the same?




Dear Someone

From: Alissa Firth-Eagland <>

Date: Mon, Feb 8, 2010 at 3:10 PM

Subject: Useful Fictions

Dear Someone,

Thanks for your email and the information about the show. Congratulations!

I am developing a text for the blog of École du Magasin and am obsessing over some of the most intriguing elements of a conversation we had recently: your description of the work itself and the creative thinking process you underwent. At this stage, I have some questions below. Please respond in the ways that you see most useful and relevant to your practice. With heartfelt enthusiasm, I welcome your response.

Best wishes from afar,

Alissa Firth-Eagland


Does your practice intersect with histories of textual tactics to unravel power structures and if so, how?

What is it about fiction that attracts you to these methods, tools, signs and forms?

What is useful about tactics of fiction? What is problematic?

What is significant about this particular gesture in the world today, as opposed to any other way of engaging with visual culture?