Shawné Michaelain Holloway

Shawné Michaelain Holloway is a Chicago based new media artist using sound, video, and performance to shape the rhetorics of technology and sexuality into tools for exposing structures of power.

Notes about the work:

In A Personal Project, a series of videos Shawné created through her experience as a camgirl and artist explores the complexities of what is expected of her in each identity, as performer and artist. You can explore the videos on the tablet in the gallery.

  • Together, the three images visualize a layered, imagined and performed identity within the context of the internet.
  • The profile picture/avatar Shawné created for herself covers up her real face, thus acting as the main mode of visual identification. Shawné elaborates on this identity through a series of tags, ranging from descriptors such as “sweet” and “loving” to more fetishized qualities such as “bisexual” and “roleplay.”
  • This identity exists online, and forces us to consider the different dynamics and situations we place ourselves in via online realms such as chat rooms and webcam sites.
  • By creating this alternate identity online, Shawné hopes to expose the unbalanced power structures surrounding online pornography.
  • In A Personal Project, a series of videos Shawné created through her experience as a camgirl and artist explores the complexities of what is expected of her in each identity, as performer and artist. You can explore the videos on the tablet in the gallery.
  • Have you ever used tags to promote a particular idea about yourself or your identity online? (on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc.)

About Shawné Michaelain Holloway

She has spoken and exhibited work internationally in spaces like The New Museum (New York, NY), Sorbus Galleria (Helsinki, Fi), on NTS Radio (London, UK) and was one of the 2017 residents at The Center for Afrofuturist Studies (Iowa City, IA.) She teaches in the New Arts Journalism department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Everyone wants to straddle the line between fantasy and reality until they learn it’s easy to get lost there. In 2013, I started a series called a personal project out of the video footage I made during my time as a cam entertainer. I really got into it. I loved my job.

I titled this series a personal project after I made the video by the same name. The video was a supercut, collected from, of my favorite scenes of what appears to be people being videotaped without their consent. I found myself seeking these videos and saving them like one might find photographs and hide them in a shoe box in a closet. After a certain amount accumulate, they become a collection and begin to describe something. Before an obsession becomes an obsession, it is just a project. The idea that a collection like this would become public is a nightmare for some. The shame involved with acknowledging an obsession with something deemed abject is quite great. I sought to manufacture that shame for myself as a pleasurable act.

I pushed boundaries on both sides of the screen, bringing art to porn consumers and pushing my technology to bend and break to create interesting compositions for an otherwise sterile art and tech community. I was a cam girl long before I ever identified as an artist. The artwork was always in service of my personal life, never the other way around.

The objective for this project was to successfully translate a convincing experience of my body into the browser interface, a place in which I spent hundreds of hours at a time, trying to figure and figure myself. There were technical considerations like which camera to use or what username to claim. Then, there were those more pressing that required a type of self-assessment; what color were my eyes? What was my sexual orientation? Did I smoke? This data was collected then for the search engine, turning me into an indexical product. Online I was a 6 foot tall, 20 year old “latina” who loved candy, Star Trek, and was a “loving trainer.” I always wondered if passersby believed in the profile I’d written. Later I would learn I gave away too much; information, for customers, was a gift.

I was a terrible entertainer, getting caught up in whole conversations, half compensated for anything I’d do. I made money but was mostly busy enjoying myself inside the identity I’d created for the job. I’m not implying that the internet as a medium was alienating me or exploiting me in any sense of the word. I felt in control of my myself for the first time. Most importantly, I was free to be the pervert I always knew I was. I enjoyed the small penis humiliation and gag videos and the lube-y spitty dirty toes that came with the job. I enjoyed everything except: a) a customer who kept repeating the same Mommy-walks-in-on-us-having-sex fantasy every week and b) the rating system.

The rating process was deceptively sweet, placing an archivable value on me and all the rest of the girls. Men, the clients/customers/slaves/donors/daddies, would leave a nice note about us as a service providers. On 3/18/13 NubianGod said “5/5,” More than just a fabulous body and sexual goddess, she can stimulate you mentally. She is well worth your money.”

I was “worth it,” ya’ll. Really “worth it.” I always wondered what it was — the nut? The time? The psychological demands? Was it a reflection of the truth or falsity of my self-marketing? What was really being quantified, I’ll never know.

- Shawné Michaelain Holloway


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin
Scroll to Top