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.
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.