Clones in Blackface and Drag: The Promise and Privilege of the Feminist Biotechnological Imaginary

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Megan Hines


This article discusses the visual culture of the feminist biotechnological imaginary, a technofeminist belief that a feminist society could be technologically engineered at the biological level. In the United States, many second-wave feminists embraced the possibility that reproductive technologies might facilitate women’s liberation from biological determinism. The idea that biology could become a tool for self-fashioning and diverse community building rather than a fixed determining force resulted in gender and race becoming mutable categories. Both race and gender became subject to technological intervention as well as technologies in themselves. Within the visual culture of the feminist biotechnological imaginary, images of clones served to examine the tension between unity and diversity in the feminist movement. Working in this context, the white women-identified artists Lynn Hershman Leeson, Cindy Sherman, and Eleanor Antin constructed representations of themselves in drag and blackface. I argue that these representations related to the visual culture of feminist clones and undermined gendered power structures while ultimately reinforcing existing racial ones.

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