A collaborative performance art workshop led by subRosa and Elena Marcevska, with an interdisciplinary group of scholars, artists & activists. Combining interdisciplinary art and theater skills, we created a tourist-like map to make visible the “hidden feminist histories” of Skopje, Macedonia. This included historic and present-day concerns experienced by women of different ages and ethnic and religious backgrounds.
Sponsored by the Faculty of Communication & Media Arts, New York University Skopje, Macedonia, June 10–19, 2008
A 10-day subRosa residency in Zagreb, where different groups of people were invited to daily gatherings to address a variety of concerns, elicited through organized discussions about everyday life and political conditions. Evening salons were followed the next day by a “manifestation” in appropriate city locations.
Photos and documentation our activities were posted daily in the gallery space, along with notes about “What We Heard” and asking “What are Your Demands?”
The residency culminated in a performative feast at the Student Center Club, Teater &TD, University of Zagreb, during which participants hailed one another, unveiled a plan for a “SubVersity” and revisited the connections that were made throughout the residency.
Artist residency & salons held at WHW’s Galerija Nova. Feast performance held at Student Center Club, Teater &TD, Unversity of Zagreb, Croatia, May 31–June 8, 2008.
Yes Species is a 20-minute performative tableau with video projection that imagines the meeting of three philosophers performing gender differently in a forest clearing: a live DJ mixing recorded vocalizations; a second performer standing in vats of red and green ink, blowing into vellum text balloons; and a third manipulating scrolls of text and dispersing copies of the Yes Species book with freshly-imprinted covers. First developed for 1-0-1 Intersex: The two gendered system as a Human Rights Violation at Berlin’s NGBK Gallery, The work explores both the performativity of gender as theorized by Judith Butler, and the hope that “things can be thought differently” as Luce Irigaray has suggested.
1-0-1 Intersex: The two gendered system as a Human Rights Violation, Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst (NGBK), Berlin, June 17, 2005 (catalog)
Cyberfem. Feminisms on the Electronic Landscape, Espai d’art contemporani de Castelló (EACC), Spain, October 20, 2006
Yes Species is documented on the subRosa “Selected Works” DVD. This project has its own web site, where you can download the Yes Speciesbook. Additional images here.
Cell Track is a flexible-scale wall installation and accompanying web site examining the privatization and patenting of human, animal, and plant genomes within the context of a history of eugenics. It has been exhibited alone and in combination with other subRosa projects, sometimes with site-specific content modifications.
Cell Track draws attention to the increasing separation between the bodies that produce stem cells—and other genetic material—and the medical and pharmaceutical products derived from them.
Maternal body cells and tissues—such as eggs, placentas, fetuses, and umbilical cord blood—have become valuable “raw materials” extracted and accumulated for emerging bio-tech industries. This has opened new pathways for corporate science to profit from the manipulation and control of life via the privatization of DNA sequences, engineered genes, stem cell lines, transgenic organisms, and the like. Cell Track gives a historic overview of the privatization of biology while also raising the the possibility of activist, feminist-inspired experimental research and labs accessible to amateurs, artists, independent scientists, and non-profit researchers conducting research and sharing knowledge for the public good.
Bio-Difference: The Political Ecology, Biennale of Electronic Arts Perth, Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, Univ. of Western Australia, Sept. 12–Oct. 3, 2004
YOUGenics3, curated by Ryan Griffis, Betty Rymer Gallery, Art Institute of Chicago, Dec. 4–Feb. 5, 2004
Deliciously Disposable Earth, curated by Carolina Loyola-Garcia, Three Rivers Arts Festival Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA, Jan. 17–Feb 22, 2008 (catalog)
Soft Power. Art and Technologies in the Biopolitical Age, curated by Maria Ptqk. Amarika Project at Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. Fall, 2009
This major, year-long subRosa project for The Interventionists, mapped the intersections of women’s material and affective labor in cultures of production in North Adams, MA, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and investigated the similarities and differences of economic, cultural and every-day life effects of the outsourcing of labor and globalization on these towns and on their local female labor force. Large, aerial wall maps of North Adams and Ciudad Juárez featured oversized map pins denoting “points of view,” and flanked a “forensic floor” that concealed objects, texts, and clues beneath loose boards. Visitors were encouraged to discover connections between the aerial maps, the contents beneath the floor, and a third printed “road map” distributed in the space. Also displayed were five posters by contemporary Mexican artists, expressing concern and outrage about the continuing murder and disappearance of women in Ciudad Juárez.*
The “Clothing Tag Map,” a separate part of this project—displayed in the foyer of the Museum—allowed visitors to cut the tags off their clothing and pin them to a Dymaxion world map, according to the location where each garment was manufactured. Thus visitors actively explored, and demonstrated their own participation and complicity in globalized labor conditions.
The Interventionists: Art in the Social Sphere, curated by Nato Thompson, MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA, May 2004–March 2005 (catalog, link).
Thought Crimes: The Art of Subversion [clothing tag map only], curated by Diane Barber, Diverse Works, Houston, TX, April 1–May 28, 2005.
Originally staged inside the student center of a large public university, U-Gen-A-Chix engaged students directly in critical conversations about eugenics as it relates to contemporary genetic engineering of humans, animals, and plants. Tandem performance booths were set up in a high-traffic area: one dispensing information on human egg donation and Assisted Reproductive Technologies, and the other offering taste tests of chicken-flavored GMO biscuits. After taste-testing the biscuit, students gave live video interviews about their willingness to eat genetically engineered foods if they enhanced energy performance during exams, and offered their opinions about the widespread use of GMOs, and related biological and social eugenic tendencies. (Note: This performance has been re-staged under several different titles, with variations in the set-up, emphasis, and audience participation in each case).
“U-Gen-A-Chix,” YOUGenics2: Exploring the Social Implications of Genetic Technologies, Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield, Oct. 2, 2003.
“Express Choice,” Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, November 7, 2005.
“U-Gen-A-Chix,” Raw Symbiosis: Animals_Nature_Culture, 14th International Festival of Contemporary Arts—City of Women, Galerija Skuc, Ljubljana, Slovenia, October 13, 2008 (catalog).
The earliest version of this performance—“US Grade AAA Premium Eggs,” Bowling Green State University, Ohio, April, 2002—did not include the biscuit-tasting activity, but it did feature its own web site.
An audience-participatory performance and collective mapping of the global trafficking in human organs and tissues, International Markets of Flesh [IMF] first took place on the altar of a 17th century converted convent church. Through participatory activities, demonstrations, & manipulation of life-size organ sculptures, the audience learned about the growing international demand for transplantable organs and tissues, and the political, social, and medical consequences these demands create. Participants wrote personal stories and rumors about organ harvesting and trade on a large Dymaxion World Map, and affixed organ stickers. The visual accumulation of facts, fiction, and testimony effectively demonstrated the dominant flows of the flesh-market worldwide—with demand coming from the North/West and supply coming from the South/East. Performers and audience also discussed changing ideas about the value of human life in the age of genetically engineered, globally distributed, and patented human body parts, filled in a form estimating the net worth of their body parts and labor, and received a Certificate of Flesh Worth.
XI International Performance Art Festival: Out of Focus, ExTeresa Arte Actual, Mexico City, July 11, 2003.
Arte Nuevo InteractivA’05, Patio Central del Centro Cultural Olimpio, Mérida,Yucatan, Mexico, June 25, 2005.
A Studio of Their Own : The Legacy of the Fresno Feminist Experiment, 1970, Conley Art Gallery, CSU Fresno, CA, Aug. 26-Oct. 11, 2009.
subRosa impersonated a “Biopower Team” of consultants and performed an intervention at the “Art and Tech Fair” of a large public university. Our team created a booth where participants could complete an online biopower profiler that enabled them to compare how they allocated their labor power and leisure time—their total biopower. A team consultant helped participants analyze their results and gave advice about empowering life changes (such as considering athletic scholarships as form of labor instead of or in addition to it being leisure time).
In collaboration with students, faculty, and community activists, subRosa also designed a consciousness-raising map revealing the intersections of biological/agricultural/digital technology cultures on the BGSU campus, in the town, and in the surrounding animal Phactory Pharming enterprises which the team had documented. The map raised critical issues personalized by the biopower questionnaire, and was distributed campus-wide via “mooing” mailbox-kiosks. The biopower team also conducted a graduate colloquium and video screening on the issues of biopower and technology on campus.
23rd Annual New Media & Art Festival, Bowling Green State University, Ohio, October, 2002
Additional images from the performance can be seen in The Interventionists: Users’ Manual for the Creative Disruption of Everyday Life.
A portion of the map is reproduced in Experimental Geography: Radical Approaches to Landscape, Cartography, and Urbanism.
Styled as a sex education class, subRosa’s first public performance employed time honored, low tech teaching methods to inspire critical thinking and knowledge sharing about the new Assisted Reproductive Technologies. Just coming into wide use at the time, we looked at ARTs and their effects on female sexuality, reproductive choice, eugenics, and gender in the Biotech Century. subRosa members posed as corporate and government agency representatives, registering class participants and assigning them to one of 5 groups named for the protein bases of DNA (T, A, G, & C), or a fifth, “dud” group. Following an illustrated crash course on reproductive genetics and ART methods, participants were given a workbook with a “reproductive choice” form to complete. In a hilarious final “repro-tech mixer” participants mingled to find reproductive partner(s) matching their preferences to negotiate “making a perfect baby the biotech way.” A spontaneous break-away group of Luddites desiring to have babies the old-fashioned sexy way highlighted this performance.
Performed as “Sex & Gender in the Biotech Century,” Digital Secrets conference, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, November, 2000
Performed as “The Sex and Gender Education Show,” Hardware, Software, Wetware & Women conference, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, December, 2002
The Sex and Gender Education Show has its own web site and workbook, and the first iteration is documented on subRosa’s Selected Works DVD.
One of subRosa’s first projects as a group, @SecondOpinion was a 2-volume newsletter that we distributed sans permission at local hospitals, universities, and at Race for the Cure.
Volume 1: May, 1999.
Volume 2: September, 1999
*Online versions of @SecondOpinion can be viewed here.
Does She or Doesn’t She? (Cheaper by the Dozen)
subRosa built a giant nest and staged a sit-in and photo-shoot on the steps of the neoclassical Mellon Institute of Industrial Research, which at the time was home to Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Biology and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center. Photos from this action were featured in V2 of @SecondOpinion alongside an essay about the risks of becoming an egg-donor.
A web project that satirically detourns the concept of Smart T-shirt technology (developed for remote battlefield medicine by the U.S. military) to the uses of pregnancy surveillance and assisted reproductive technologies, 1999 (redesigned in 2000 & 2009).