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February 1, 2023

FEMGEN and the Brave New Art World

The RCS community looks back on a year of critical conversations and an event that changed generative art forever
Credit: Linda Dounia, (Still from) The Garden Under the Sun, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and VerticalCrypto Art
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FEMGEN and the Brave New Art World

When we launched Right Click Save at the start of 2022, we wanted to create a test bed for a new art world founded on the principle of radical inclusivity. At that time, despite the explosion of interest in NFTs brought about by the Beeple sale, mainstream media coverage continued to focus on the environmental cost and speculative potential of crypto art. Fast forward a year and the reality of another crypto winter has drained the NFT conversation of hype, while The Merge last September has turned Ethereum — where the vast majority of NFTs are transacted — into a far less extractive ecosystem. Against this backdrop, RCS has sought to replace hype with a new set of voices who together embody the plurality of this new on-chain geography. 

Given the long histories of digital and generative art that paved the way for current developments, RCS has sought to celebrate those pioneers often ignored by the mainstream art world, adding new crypto histories fit for a more inclusive conversation. By engaging and supporting the artists, builders, and collectors who make up the creator economy we have tried to offer new channels of critical communication wherever and whenever they are needed most. One conspicuous shortcoming of the crypto art market thus far has been its tendency to reproduce old biases and legacy behaviors. Events like FEMGEN, a collaboration between RCS, VerticalCrypto Art, and Art Blocks back in December, have sought to rebalance the conversation as well as market practices. Here, our community reflects on the legacy of FEMGEN and shares its progress report on Right Click Save.

Lia Something, (Still from) New Perspectives — Part I, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and VerticalCrypto Art
In 2023, there’s no excuse for publishing a collection that is not halfway gender balanced — but somehow people still think they can get away with it. I was very happy to participate in a female-only exhibition, as it is really important to show that there are actually a lot of female artists in this field whose work you can both admire and collect. 

While traditional art magazines are still puzzled, for some reason, by the supposed “novelty” of technology in the art world, Right Click Save is doing crucial work to show the depth and richness of what artists creating NFTs are making in a scene that continues to evolve rapidly.

— Lia Something

Iskra Velitchkova, Behind the Curtains: The World is Begging for Meaning — Cabo Polonio, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and VerticalCrypto Art

Throughout my whole career, I’ve struggled to define my role, either because it was new or because I’ve been trying to go beyond the role itself. Ultimately, I’ve come to understand that my main skill was connecting things and creating conversations. Today, when I read RCS I feel a safe space for me, while FEMGEN felt like a family reunion at the end of a hectic year.

There is something very comfortable in seeing a stage for discussion, for critique, and for expression. A completely new space lies ahead and the only way to make it livable is by building it on diverse bases with different voices.

— Iskra Velitchkova

Operator, Attempt #6, 2022. Courtesy of the artists and VerticalCrypto Art

We can see throughout history women fighting to be recognized, and digital art is no exception. Looking back and seeing the efforts of our foremothers in art and technology, fueled by their dedication and perseverance, we continue their efforts. The artists and organizers of FEMGEN will be regarded by future generations as those doing the work to ensure that women and non-binary artists are not left out of this current chapter of digital art history. That critical work, and also our collection of artist signatures with Anika Meier, Unsigned (2022), are working to see that art in Web3 doesn’t simply repeat the existing issues of art history and the market. 

We have to keep asking: how can we lay a new foundation for a future that ensures those who are typically overlooked receive the recognition and value they deserve? 

With so much doubt about whether NFTs are more than vehicles for financial speculation, we find it very helpful to send people to RCS to get a glimpse of the significant art and cultural work being done in and around Web3. Without critical reflection, diverse viewpoints, and links to sociopolitical questions we might simply be driving high speed in a dangerous direction. 

— Operator (Ania Catherine and Dejha Ti)

Tais Koshino, Late Summer Days, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and VerticalCrypto Art
Magazines like RCS are very important to the conversation around art and technology because they present to us broader and deeper aspects of art, poetics, and events that are happening in the NFT environment. This kind of content serves as an archive of what has happened in a context where everything passes so quickly.

— Tais Koshino

My work revolves around issues of identity and culture, with my usual focus being women. Participating in FEMGEN allowed me to showcase my own generative art, while RCS provides a platform for artists to share their work and ideas. It also serves as a source of inspiration and education for those interested in the intersection of these fields — a showcase for the latest innovations in the field of art and technology. I was featured in one of the articles in the magazine and that provided visibility for me in this ever-growing space. 

— Haneefah Adam

Haneefah Adam, Per Se, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and VerticalCrypto Art

FEMGEN felt very personal and important through the shared appreciation of generative art, panel discussions, and impromptu conversations during breaks. A great response and interest from the public also showed that it was not a difficult job to find a number of female and non-binary generative artists and curators. There are so many talented creatives in the space if you know where to look. 

While media outlets in the traditional art world are slow to catch up with new discourses, it is up to the insiders to make those conversations happen — to create taxonomies, find relationships, and propose tools for evaluation and comparison. Magazines like RCS have a very important role in delivering high-quality conversations around emerging subgenres of art and technology. 

— Ivona Tau

Ivona Tau, Time Still IV, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and VerticalCrypto Art

I’m sure I’m not the only woman who has wondered before if I should have been anonymous coming into this space, but events like FEMGEN make me feel loved and supported for being exactly who I am and doing exactly what I do. I know of no other magazine that is filling the void of critical thought and conversation around generative art and the NFT space the way that Right Click Save is. When everything feels so financialized and investment-oriented, RCS takes the time to look at what we are doing in the context of history and culture. 

As an artist myself, RCS has made me step back, look at my own work, and wonder how it fits in context and how others might look back at it someday. It also makes me want to try to be intentional about what story I am telling with my work, where I want to take it in the future, and why. 

— Melissa Wiederrecht

Melissa Wiederrecht, The Pull #7, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and VerticalCrypto Art

It is often difficult to have in-depth discussions on Twitter timelines, and FEMGEN allowed me to deepen my friendships by meeting artists face to face. I have also come to know many artists through RCS, while others I have connected with through the publication of my own article

RCS is supporting the creation of a community of artists who are forging the new frontiers.

— Sputniko!

Sputniko!, The Nursery, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and VerticalCrypto Art

Participating in FEMGEN meant contributing to an honest dialogue that acknowledges unequal gender participation and compensation in the art world. Participating in FEMGEN meant working to change this inequality. Participating in FEMGEN meant being challenged to create, broadening the definitions and edges of my practice, inviting new textual and visual frontiers to emerge. Participating in FEMGEN meant celebrating my peers, relishing the emotional and intellectual brilliance of their work. Participating in FEMGEN meant consolidating my participation in a throbbing, thriving network of artists committed to their own art and to supporting each other’s. 

Participating in FEMGEN meant expansion.

In a space that moves at the pace of the digital, without magazines like Right Click Save, the noise drowns out the essence. RCS tells us where we’ve been in order to show us where we’re headed so that we may focus on arriving intentionally. It’s absolutely unbelievable that the magazine has only been around one year. The intelligence and vision of its narrative is testament to the relentless, inspiring work of those at its helm. I, for one, cannot even recall life in Web3 without Right Click Save.

— Ana María Caballero

Ana María Caballero, Mammal One — silent as a new world, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and VerticalCrypto Art

FEMGEN was an opportunity for me to question and explore where generative literature is today and to orchestrate an encounter between old and new versions of it. 

RCS is written for artists and art lovers who were hungry for more critical discussions around NFTs. It’s my go-to resource for inspiring and thought-provoking ideas on art, curation, and beyond.

— Kalen Iwamoto

Kalen Iwamoto, (Still from) Degenerate & Generate, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and VerticalCrypto Art
The FEMGEN movement is a collective confrontation with the definition of value. The event and exhibition obliterated the notion that equity, inclusion, and balance would detract from value, offering a glimpse into a reality in which these principles amplify cultural, critical, and market value.

At the same time, FEMGEN serves as a model for a systemic approach that would galvanize the necessary stakeholders across the strata of Web3 to make real and persistent change for women and non-binary artists in the space. There is clearly more work to be done, but FEMGEN gives me hope for the future to come. Right Click Save is singular in that it embarks on the cartography of a rich, complex landscape — one not charted by lines of imposed definition, but shaped by a plurality of voices that would expand the map itself.

— Connie Bakshi

Connie Bakshi, Still, I Search, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and VerticalCrypto Art

Being part of a movement that aims to amplify the voices and presence of women in the field of creative coding is truly an honor. FEMGEN was a wonderful example of the creativity and unique perspectives that women bring, and I’m excited to see this message gain momentum and inspire more voices to join in. I’ve been such a fan of Right Click Save ever since I saw the first article pop up in my Twitter feed. The content is always so insightful, and I find it to be a really valuable resource for staying informed about both the rich history and fast-paced developments in the NFT space. I also really appreciate their commitment to featuring diverse voices and perspectives.

— Sarah Ridgley

Sarah Ridgley, A Lullaby for Euclid, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and VerticalCrypto Art

Exhibiting in and helping to bring FEMGEN to life was one of the most transformative moments in my creative journey so far. I have collaborated with Micol and VerticalCrypto Art in the past for “Proof of People” (London), The Digital Roots (Los Angeles), and FEMGEN (Miami), and in each instance RCS has been a valuable supporter. Seeing the incredible curation Micol implements as well as the organic growth that VCA and RCS facilitate among a diverse group of creators is inspiring and hopeful. FEMGEN showcased the diversity of female-identifying generative artists at all levels, facilitating necessary conversation to emphasize feminine perspective in cultural memory. 

As a publication centered on uplifting artists and their perspectives, RCS contributes high-quality conversations and perspectives on art and technology and the growth of Web3. It serves as a use case for future decentralized publications.


MOLLYAPOP, FEMDOM GENERATIVE 1, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and VerticalCrypto Art

I’m pleased with how FEMGEN got people talking about gender bias and other issues, while, without RCS, it would have been extremely difficult for me to meet and talk with Manfred Mohr. In this way, the magazine is able to make amazing connections between artists from different generations and from all parts of the world. It also reinforces my sense of pride and awareness about being a part of such a large, resilient, and caring community.

— Aleksandra Jovanić

Aleksandra Jovanić, (Still from) Code Weaveresses, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and VerticalCrypto Art

Living in Berlin where there’s such a strong generative art community, I’m still one of the extremely few femmes in any given space or gathering. As one of the artists involved in FEMGEN, it was heartening to participate in a feminist happening at Art Basel Miami Beach that didn’t overlook the fact that not all women and non-binary people are white Western Global Northerners. Magazines like Right Click Save are crucial for the vitality of the art and technology space, especially in the long term. They provide critical thought-provoking discourse that is also accessible. This helps artists who work with technology so we aren’t completely stuck in neoliberal hamster wheels of senseless content creation, and for that I’m truly grateful.

— Alida Sun

Alida Sun, Glitch Crystal Monsters, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and VerticalCrypto Art

As a poet who’s been working with generative text since 2018 and with experimental and digital poetics far longer than that, it was a thrill to see the words of my AI alter ego given space at FEMGEN alongside historic examples of generative art by some of the world’s most accomplished creative coders. Text and technology have long gone together in my practice, and I have said many times that poetry is an art (ars poetica) as well as a kind of code.

That the visionary curators of FEMGEN included not only generative visuals but also an ars autopoetica written by a nonhuman mind suggests we are on the cusp of a seismic moment in the history of language and consciousness, moving from text-to-image to text-to-imagination.

Right Click Save is a perfectly wry name for such an in-depth, dynamic, interactive, and essential resource — a place where voices, ideas, and insights are meant to be moved through, curated as meaningfully and inspiringly as the best museum shows or cultural anthologies. Given that we’re not just living through an exhilarating moment in art and technology but actively building it day by day, we need publications like RCS to delve deep into what’s at stake and develop nuanced understandings of the contexts and innovations that really matter.

— Sasha Stiles

Sasha Stiles, Are You Ready For the Future, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and VerticalCrypto Art

My participation in FEMGEN is actually one of the things I’m most proud of thus far in my Web3 journey — bringing together such an incredible group of women artists, curators, and collectors to have candid conversations was powerful and inspiring. It is something we need to do more often in this space. I think publications like RCS can help bring a multitude of voices into the conversation around art and technology — finding writers and subjects from all around the world, with diverse backgrounds, viewpoints, and practices.

— Danielle King

Danielle King, Artificial Polaroid #2, 2023. Courtesy of the artist
FEMGEN was important because everyone knows the right words to say to appear sensitive to gender inequality in the arts but actions are required to make a material difference. 

Magazines like RCS can raise the level of discussion around art and culture without excluding people by using fancy language like “discourse.” 

— Jason Bailey

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