A woman wearing rock clothing stands next to her life sized virtual avatar in the same clothing
© Skawennati, Dancing With Myself, 2015
Two archival inkjet prints, each 177.8 x 76.2 cm (70 × 30 inches)

Skawennati, from her perspective as an urban Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) woman and as a cyberpunk avatar, makes art that addresses history, the future and change. Her early adoption of cyberspace as both a location and a medium for her practice has led to groundbreaking projects such as CyberPowWow and TimeTraveller™. She is best known for her machinimas —movies made in virtual environments — but she also produces still images, textiles and sculpture.

The diptych Dancing With Myself playfully places Skawennati next to her virtual avatar; both are dressed in the same fashion. Virtual space was originally promised as an escape from the pressures of colonial and capitalist cultures. Here, we can be whoever we want to be, build whatever we desire, and communicate with people across the planet. Skawennati’s juxtaposition of the real self with the imagined self provokes her audience. She leaves us to consider questions of identity and representation in both the virtual world and the physical world. She also offers insight into an imagined world, one where creative ideas can ignite the building of a better real world, particularly for Mohawk culture. This work was created in collaboration with Daniel Cianfarra (photography), Lisa Sim (make-up), Karen Lampcov (costume fabrication) and Gerardo Cianciulli (3D modelling).