For many of us, the word ‘hacker’ conjures the image of a
mischief-making computer geek with disrespect for authority and too
much time on his or her hands. Curators at the Museo Nacional
Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid are set on challenging the
negative connotations associated with hacking. Their current
exhibition, Hackers: the Art of Abstraction argues that
everyone can and should be a hacker.
The show was inspired by McKenzie Werk’s The Hacker
Manifesto, which redefines a hacker as anyone who creates
intellectual property, but does not control the means of its
production. Werk’s ‘hacker class’ includes anyone who creates
anything, from programmers to artists and writers to chemists.
According to Berta Sichel, director of the museum’s audiovisual
department, the exhibition seeks to ‘refute the negatives and make
people aware that in an age of increased surveillance, hacking can
be a vital countermeasure.’
The artists selected for the exhibition explore the
intersections of creativity, invention, and radical activism in
their works. The centerpiece of the exhibition are documentary
films and videos made by independent filmmakers and hackers from
round the world. Many of the works have never been shown in a
museum or gallery setting, and in some cases, persuading the
hackers to share their work with the art world was a challenge.
Even for some of them, the concept that hacking is distinct from
programming code was new.
Exhibition organizer Jenny Marketou hopes to spark conversations
in hackers and visitors alike. ‘People may even come to the show
and finally discover the hacker hidden in themselves,’ she
— Anastasia Masurat
Bit Is a Work of Art
Wark’s The Hacker Manifesto
with McKenzie Wark
- Hippies from Hell
Caf? Utne: Are all artists hackers? Discuss in
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