Hack the Gender! Pink Networks of Tactical and Playful Strategies

0aabazzich.jpgMessy notes from the fascinating talk that Tatiana Bazzichelli gave at City of Women, a festival running until October 13 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

0aaanetwokg4.jpgHer talk was actually an overview of Extra Gender, the last chapter of Tatiana’s book Networking. The Net As Artwork, which gives a snapshot of the history of artistic networking in Italy, through an analysis of the realities which during the past twenty years have given way to a creative, shared and aware use of technologies, from video to computers, contributing to the formation of Italian hacker communities.

The italian version is all yours to download but the chapters are currently being translated and good news! Chapter 7, Extra Gender, is already available in PDF format.

In Italy in the 80’s reflections on how to re-invent and re-position sexuality and identity started to emerge inside a seminal network. Inspired by the hacker cultures these explorations into sexuality demonstrated how activism could embrace sex culture and become an open and playful code of communication, that went beyond the usual woman-man gender confrontation.

Things became even more exasperated after 2000 and especially after the G8 in Genoa. Many collective decided it was time to re-invent the category of political activism and create new methods to relate with art and sexuality. People injected irony into their project, making fakes, pranks, etc. An ironic point of view became essential especially when dealing with sex.

Tatiana’s talk focused on the Pink Action and how tactical frivolity overcame cultural and social symbols. For her, networking doesn’t have to be strictly linked to the internet, especially in Italy (for example, postal art). Many Italian collectives shared several contexts whether their main object was art, hacking, cyberpunk, activism or cyberfeminism. She mapped these relationships beetween art and hacking in Italy to show her point. The map is actually an adaptation of jodi‘s %20Network [4.10.2000 17:04:36] map.

According to Tatiana, while in Italy hacking is closely connected to political activism it is not the case in other countries such as Germany, the Berlin Chaos Computer Club doesn’t do art and doesn’t defend itself as political.

0aaalicc.jpgRadio Alice studio

She started her overview of hacktivism in the 70s with the birth of Radio Alice, an experience in free independent radio in Bologna. Radio Alice was also an art experiment where languages was played with and explored in a dada-ist way.

A key element of the pink and DIY culture were the social centers in Italy, especially in the ’90s.That’s where many activist projects were born: be they punkzines, music or any other self-organized cultural project.

Hacktivism is the fusion of hacking and activism, technology and political action. The work of Jaromil illustrates perfectly this combination of free + open technology, art and political activism.

For 10 years, Italy has hosted hackmeeting days where people bring their computers and share information and tools, organizes seminars and workshops for free.

An important figure in the Pink culture is Helena Velena. Famous for her cybercore activities which aimed to bring together the hacker culture and explicit sexuality, she even created a cybersex suit.

From 2000 on, in Italy people started to play with the concept of sexuality in a playful way. Something which, highlighted Tatiana, is not to be taken for granted in the country of the Vatican.

Action Pink is a process of politically incorrect theatralisation, with playful pranks, an open space of fluid action. She then showed the video of a manifestation in which activists were “painting” the city in pink to protest against the visit of Bush in Rome in 2004.

Movement in Italy where the hacker community and the queer network explore sexuality beyond the boundaries of identities and cross the limits fixed by gender and stereotypes. In the country queer is not associated solely with gay. Instead there are attempts to mix the categories of sexuality and come up with something new.

Magazines that have hacking culture and porn discuss such as Torazine, Catastrophe, Phag Off, etc.


A few years ago, the first independent sex shop, Sexyshock, opened in Bologna. It is a space that explores tangible ways to combine sexuality and hacker culture, offering tools which open the concept of identity and genders, selling “machines for pleasure,” etc.


Another chapter of Tatiana’s presentation discussed precarious work. She gave the lowdown on the Serpica Naro action and how at the end of the 2005 Fashion Week in Milan, anti-precarity activists pulled off a spoof against the fashion industry and the media. The activists invented a Japanese designer Serpica Naro (and acronym for San Precario, a Saint “in charge of protecting precarious workers” invented by the Italian group Chainworkers. On Serpica Naro’s catwalks appeared models wearing outfits designed to expose issues relating to the precarious nature of employment (special clothing that allow you to change quickly when you go from one job as a call center employee to another as a McDonald waiter in the same day, etc.)


Another famous activist project –which btw was part of Madonna Piange Sperma (the Madonna cries sperm), an exhibition curated by Carniscelte and planed to open in Bologna had it not faced censorship– is Operazione Pretofilia/Operation Pedopriest by La MolleIndustria. The game, based loosely on the BBC documentary Sex Crimes and the Vatican (on You Tube: part 1, part 2, 3 and 4), is about child sex abuse in the Catholic church. You get points when you contribute to make deeper the conspiracy of silence. When they heard of the release of the game, some politicians tried to have it shut.

Puttanopoly (puttana means prostitute in italian) a Monopoly-style board game in which players become streetwalkers who have to dodge police raids, turf wars and serial killers to earn a living.


Last but not least, Tatiana presented CUM2CUT, the Indie-Porn-Short-Movies-Festival that she organizes and curates together with and Gaia Novati in Berlin.

Participants are invited to a four day (October 20 to 24) marathon to release a short porn film, which will be shown during the Berlin Porn Film Festival. The idea is to apply DIY inside the world of pornography, and thus outside the usual power structures of porn. To reappropriate the genre.

0pr0n.jpgCum2cut is totally free and open. There are just a few rules. First, the videos produced must be licensed under the Creative Commons. Then some requirements: a “@” symbol has to be shown; the Berlin city map has to be shown; the sound of a slap has to be heard; and the sentence “I used to have such a good imagination” has to be said.

During the opening party on October 20, a category-lottery will decide which will be your porn genre, i.e. splatter porn, gothic porn, silent porn, western porn, superhero, dadaistic porn, futuristic porn, horror porn, new wave porn, etc.

This year CUM2CUT features also a Pr0n competition for people who cannot come to Berlin as they can upload the video in remote on the CUM2CUT server. Participants have to deal with pornography using media or creating digital codes or any other video projects.

Like the Porn Competition, the Pr0n marathon is 4 days long. You can choose to participate from 20 September to 20 October, registering yourself on the Pr0n form.