Virtual Season addresses aspects of a broader exploration focused on within Whippersnapper’s summer programming series, Not Just The Picture. The series explores the ways in which developing social and media technologies increasingly inform creation of our individual and collective identities as well as contribute to our relationships with institutions, information and culture.
Virtual Season will be the central event of the summer long programming series as well as a culminating presentation of Sheroes featuring new and past works by Canadian and International contemporary artists.
In media fandom, “virtual season” refers to a creative activity where fans collaborate on serialized “fanworks” that offer alternative, continuation or spin-off seasons of their much-loved TV shows.
These unofficial continuations are transformative, sampled cultural works — they involve a re-imagining of the original source material, and allow a means of exploring the relationships between real/fictitious characters beyond the limited framework of that fandom’s canon. These acts of bridging actual and virtual selfhoods are increasingly of interest to those who study how digital culture is formed, and especially how it affects the ways in which we see ourselves in the world. The passions and intensities of these once-ephemeral works are now being preserved and reassessed for the groundwork they’ve laid in virtual community-building and collaborative content creation.
Since 2011, Sheroes has organized free and inclusive thematic art events at Toronto venues like NACO Gallery and The Beaver. As a monthly limited-run art party series, Sheroes actively involves the creative practices and aesthetics of media fandom — fan fiction, fan art, fanvids and even cosplay, a form of fan costume play — as forms of outsider art. In taking on these practices, the artists involved with Sheroes engage in an art of participation with the images and works of online producers that don’t necessarily position themselves as artists.
Sheroes is committed to herstory done right. In its shipping of the female pop-culture goddesses that comprise the “League of Legendary Ladies”, a reinterpretation of the so-called otherliness that pervades digital and actual cultures emerges. In fannish terms, it’s a “futurefic” of the mythic woman-power and a “denialfic” of objectified image-based appraisals. The frenetic assemblage of on- and offline works — performances, sounds, visuals and installations — playfully explores the iconography and culture of fandom. Sheroes revels in the “fanon”: going beyond the expressiveness permitted in dominant media discourse to the imagined theories and re-written narratives collaboratively determined by fans.
Sheroes: Virtual Season will be a summer outdoor art & music festival in the vein of famous pagan and religious events such as Ancient Greek theatre festivals and All Saint Days — involving performance art, music, interactive, DIY projects, costuming and various activities. It will be a manifestation of the themes of Sheroes as they have thus far been explored in the monthly event. Here, the Sheroes will be presented in the deified roles bestowed upon them by themselves and their fandoms — shedding light on the unique identities of these women by having all their voices heard at once, while also celebrating the plurality of their cults of woman-worship.