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Ursula #15

Ursula #15

Hannah Withaker

Assembly presents Ursula by Hannah Whitaker. Inspired by science fiction tropes like digital servants and sex robots gendered as female, this project playfully critiques how the male gaze has created “female” service-oriented machines even in the AI assistants that many of us employ in our daily lives. These straight, studio shots are mostly of the artist’s friend who becomes “Ursula,” named after the most famous Ursulas—the Sea Witch in the Little Mermaid, feminist sci-fi writer, Ursula K. Le Guin, and sex symbol Ursula Andress. At once retro and futuristic, these photographs reflect the vernacular of the tech industry and the stereotypical “women” that this male-dominated space creates. This work was published as a photobook in 2021 in collaboration with writers Dawn Chan and David Levine. Levine writes, “The world asked for me to be this way. Highly reflective…Nonporous. A contemporary saint, my body covered in USB ports, surrounded by photographers. Click click click click click.”