This year I’ve had the pleasure of doing a little project with Raju Rage and Studio Voltaire, creating a web experience for their online archive of transgender health resources. They launched it this week, and you can check it out at desperatelivin.com.
They reached out to commission this after they had included Cis Penance in an online exhibition. Since their archive includes a lot of zines and artist-made publications, the rough DIY aesthetic of Cis Penance felt like a good fit. As well as thinking about how to make a website feel tactile, like a zine table in a community space, I was also thinking about Olia Lialina’s 1996 net art piece My Boyfriend Came Back From The War, which kind of feels like it sits at this intersection between personal memories and the structuring institutions of the state. I approached this project considering about how I might make something similar today using the kind of web coding that I’m more familiar with, while ensuring that the code is accessible to others who want to add more material in the future, without using a CMS.
The site is hosted on Neocities, which is a platform for hand-built, DIY websites that often have a retro aesthetic. If you’re a Neocities user, you can follow the site to see future updates. It’s such a delight to be asked to make something by people who are down with this kind of lo-fi “yesterweb” approach. It’s pretty liberating to make a web site that won’t have any pop-ups asking users to consent to cookies, isn’t built with proprietary tools that will be deprecated in the future, etc. The ethos of Neocities is about building community through self-made, low-cost pieces of media art, which seems pretty zine-like to me.
Massive thanks to Studio Voltaire for trusting me and going along with this unconventional way of commissioning and building a website! It’s a huge honour to play a part in a project that aims to contribute to ongoing access to community care for transgender people.