- w3 wi11 ov3rf10w ur cistem g4t3s: The Hackers of Resistance
The Hackers of Resistance, also known by the acronym HORs, are an elaborate cyberpunk, transfeminist, multimedia performance-art collective consisting of a semi-anonymous trio of queer women of color. The artists' personas are code-named FxDat69, Fragmint, and CherryChapo, and are characters based on the artists' own identities and personal interests. Created for "Animating the Archives: the Woman's Building," Hackers of Resistance is a diffuse project that interweaves multimedia performance art, comedy, and video games to craft a cathartic power fantasy that explores the realities of cis and trans women of color living within a neoliberal surveillance state. Taking place in an alternative universe, this hyperimmersive multisensory, speculative world manifests through an online archive, wearehors.xyz, a traveling performance-art piece revolving around an interactive, game-driven installation based in the HORhaus, a.k.a. the hacker's secret lair.
In this alternative present, three queer women of color helm a revolution, interrupting the dominant discourses of hacking, as they do not fit within the racialized, gendered, and sexualized norms of what a hacker is. Through their transmedia storytelling, rooted in transnational transfeminist theory and activism, the hackers craft a queer, women of color intervention on the ways that reproductive and surveillance technologies inform each other as manifestations of the logics and projects of necropolitics. By reclaiming these technologies and merging them with antisurveillance and hacktivism, HORs crafts a queer futurity where there are immediate and doable solutions to end neoliberalism, white supremacy, and heteropatriarchy.
In this alternative 2017, the hackers are nostalgic for "the Snowden days," a happier time where one isn't justexiled by a totalitarian regime. Their 2017 is more dire, but in a way that is also more optimistic, as it presents solutions and opportunities that are more difficult to obtain in our present time, where [End Page 287]leaked information can spark a revolution that overthrows not only the Trump administration but the settler colonial power structures of the United States. By creating such a cathartic power fantasy in a dimension so close to our own, HORs engineers a space for reclamation that is enacted both online and offline. The hackers allude to the intersection of transmisogyny, queerphobia, and surveillance with the battle cry "w3 will ov3rf10w ur cistem g4t3s," a challenge to the surveillance state that polices queerness, trans women, and gender-nonconforming people wherever they interact. In our own world that rejects Black and brown women and transfeminine people as only being hopeless and hapless victims, the hackers instead posit that those who have been marginalized by internet surveillance are able to disrupt the infinite overt and covert ways their bodies are policed and watched because they always have been able to do so, whether online or on the streets.
Cybersurveillance is identified as not the sole oppressor but an oppressive action rooted in the logics and projects of a settler colonial nation-state. The hackers also recognize the past and present contributions of Black and brown women hacktivists by providing community support and bringing hacking back to its origins in women of color. This reclamation of hacking, often regarded as destructive and the domain of vengeful white men, renders it into a generative and productive site of both alternative ways of knowing and a modality of hope. In this way, HORs works as a playful poetry from the future, as outlined by Kara Keeling in the way they interrupt normative concepts and processes of time, history, subject formation, and erasure with the imaginings and inhabiting of new futures. 1
However, HORs are not necessarily real hackers but, rather, performance artists leading their audience to believe they are doing such inventive hacktivism. Hackers of Resistance was created as a tribute to the Woman's Building in Los Angeles, a feminist community space that operated from 1978 to 1991. The hackers, along with fifteen emerging Southern Californian women artists, were given fellowships and prompted to create new artworks driven by the Woman's Building history and legacy as a feminist nonprofit art and education center, drawing...