xyx28: encrypted feminist magazine

A magazine and accompanying promotional material

XYX28 is an art project in the form of an encrypted feminist magazine.

The magazine contains real articles submitted by women who responded to an online ad. The encryption, however, renders them unintelligible.

It was done in three stages. The first two were part of my Masters in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins. But, as I continued to receive content for the magazine after completing the initial project, I decided to create a full version online.

Why create something if no one will read it? Why promote something that cannot be understood?

Many women throughout history have asked themselves these same questions. A magazine that cannot be read is absurd. But it can also be a metaphor for the historical invisibility of women and the barrier of prejudices against feminism.

XYX28 final installation

First (not very full) issue

In the second exhibition, at Charing Cross in London in September 2007, I showcased the promotion of the first issue of the magazine.

The installation had posters, a computer connected to the internet with the magazine’s website, chairs, and a table with flyers, business cards, postcards, press releases, subscription forms, and pens.

I also placed posters and flyers throughout the rest of the building.

“many assumed the artist was a man

After the show

As I continued to receive content after finishing the initial project, I decided to create a complete version of the magazine online.

However, at this point I felt that I wanted to make the unencrypted content accessible somehow. So I created a little icon that one could click on to get to the real content. Partly out of optimism, but also out of historical correctness and respect for the women who so kindly had allowed me to use their work.

Photo: Reuben Tompkins

How the idea came about

When I went to a Guerrilla Girls talk at Tate Modern in 2006, I was impressed. They spoke with humour, intelligence and pride, among other things, about how women avoid talking about feminism for fear of rejection. 

I felt identified and ashamed. After so much time researching information manipulation, propaganda and stereotypes and I had not noticed how they apply to women.

Then, I realised that feminism as an artistic subject was the natural continuation of my research. Furthermore, my ideals of democracy, freedom and justice come together in feminist theories.

The propaganda against feminism is overwhelming. The most commonly used technique is negative association. for example, if you are a feminist you hate men. And if you are a feminist man, then you don’t even exist.

In reality there has been no historical moment in which feminism has not been attacked. Even during the French Revolution, Olympe de Gouges was guillotined for daring to say that universal rights were not only for half of the people.


Thank you.

To Jane B. Stevenson, Regius Chair of Humanity at the University of Aberdeen, for sending me fragments from her book Women Latin Poets: Language, Gender and Authority from Antiquity to the Eighteenth Century.

To the Guerrilla Girls for allowing me to use the first chapter of their book Bitches, Bimbos and Ballbreakers: The Guerrilla Girls’ Illustrated Guide to Female Stereotypes.

To Nina Hoetchl, artist, for sending me her piece Two-thirds.

To Zellieh for her poem Ode to Victorine.

To Deepa Craig, artist, for allowing me to use a picture of her piece Husband and Wife (Kali and Shiva) and sending me a text to go with it.

To Joyful Noise for her poem I am not your way out.

To Sharon Kivland, artist, for her text On irony.

To Éva Forrai for her poems The bitch and the go-go queen, Life models live close by and In the go-go cage.


In connection with the encrypted feminist magazine project, in 2009 I was asked to write two texts on feminism.

The future of art is feminist, from the perspective of funding feminist art production, for Switch Metaphors at the European Feminist Forum.

Propaganda against feminism, for the book “Reclaiming the F-word: The New Feminist Movement” by Catherine Redfern and Kristin Aune.