Down with Self-management! Re-booting Ourselves as Feminist Servers.

Cyberswamp Escapees
Cyberswamp Escapees wandering the streets of Graz in search of Real Life.


Through an engaged feminist art practice, many of subRosa’s projects over the past 15 years have addressed the rapid development of digitized life and work in cyberspace, for example, techniques such as “life hacking,” “social networking” “crowd-sourcing” “lean production,” and “self-management”. This networked life promises to facilitate personal enhancement, enable smoother connections between humans and machines, and make life more fun in the high-speed, virtualized environments in which so many people live, work, and play.

In our research and art-making, subRosa pays close attention to what it feels like to live in this moment of compulsory self-management, self-marketing, and the enforced enhancement, upgrading, and “connectivity” of all aspects of our lives, including our reproductive capacities, and cradle-to-grave bodily optimizations. subRosa is keenly aware that this pressure to exceed the embodied self through novel gadgets, pseudo techno-sociality, useless technologies, and distracting techno-spectacle, affects many people with chronic mental, emotional, and physical anxiety and stress.

Cyberswamp Escapees
Cyberswamp Escapee
Cyberswamp Escapees
Cyberswamp Escapees

subRosa asks: How do these ever-escalating demands depress our creativity, and curtail our desire to work in common with others in RL? How can we help each other to resist drowning in the swamps of capitalist self-entrepreneurship?

Further, we ask: How does being too busy to care for the self, and for others, actually play out in our every-day lives, our relationships at home, our labour, our communities, our politics and the ability to create the world we want to live in?

Cyberswamp Escapees
Cyberswamp Escapees

subRosa asks: How can collective feminist organizational savvy, critical insights, and creative energy, be used to craft a Server with a new “operating system” that can re-connect us in mindful, collaborative, and pleasurable ways? What skills, imagination, experience, and resources do we all bring to the table? And how can we instigate active, nurturing, convivial being-in-common, both in the here where we live, and in ever-expanding global territories both virtual and embodied to which we are connected?

What are the politics of a Feminist Server? Can we hack the very concept of a “Server” to think differently about how the collective itself is a Server? How do feminist theories of the reciprocity of the personal and the political shift our perspective, and craft feminist solidarity?

subRosa proposes that the Collective-as-Server can foment feminist struggle and practices in the public/virtual sphere, as well as in personal life. The Collective-as-Server can support solidarity and collective action, and make common cause with the many different struggles for environmental, economic, social and political justice.

Cyberswamp Escapees
Cyberswamp Escapees
Cyberswamp Escapees
Cyberswamp Escapees


Description of Proposed Actions & Installation:
[excerpted from subRosa’s proposal to esc space]

subRosa proposes 3 modes of interrelated activity during our time with the Feminist Hacktionistas at esc:

1.Einladung zum taktischen Kaffee und Kuchen (invitation to tactical coffee and cake). Several conversational gatherings with interested groups and individuals, to instigate thinking, and draw up plans, for a feminist Collective-as-Server. Locations to be determined, with the last meeting to take place in Esc space on Saturday, September 20, from 3-5 PM.

Kaffee und Kuchen
Kaffee und Kuchen with subRosa.

2. Escapees from the CyberSwamp: Beings, costumed in the detritus of techno-materialism, will conduct drifts through the RL streets of Graz and capture suggestions for a Feminist Server in their dragnet.

Cyberswamp Escapee, wandering the streets of Graz
Cyberswamp Escapee

3. Manifestations of a Feminist Server: an on-going collaborative installation of objects and ideas captured in the dragnet, or generated during “Kaffee und Kuchen” (coffee and cake) meetings, will grow for the duration of the Art Festival

Any and all world-changing feminist tactics and strategies will be useful to our work together, including door-to-door campaigning; public parades, marches, and demonstrations with banners and placards; occupations, consciousness-raising, fax bombardments, infiltration, public speak-outs or sing-outs, neighborhood organizing, quilting bees, wheat-pasting, postering, research, writing, publication, art-making, and digital networking.


Cyberswamp Escapees
Cyberswamp Escapee

Miss|Placed Women


subRosa curated a ‘shift’ of programming for  the 15th gathering of Performance Studies International entitled Miss|Placed Women, that included a panel discussion and performances featuring artists Elena Marcevska, Violeta Luna, Tanja Ostojic, Sanja Ivekovic, Iva Kovac, and Roberto Varea. Zagreb, Croatia, June, 2009. This project has its own web site.



Look! Listen! A Week With | Out Women

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.

Can You See Us Now? ¿Ya Nos Pueden Ver?

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.

* Can You See Us Now has its own web site.


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).

Download the Cultures of Eugenics booklet from our refugia web space.

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.

Biopower Unlimited!

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.

This project has its own web site.

Becoming Autonomous Zones (BAZ)

subRosa hand-decorated squares of Tyvek as multi-purpose BAZ scarves: useful for fashion, shelter, storage, and manifesto distribution.

  • Very Cyberfeminist International conference, Hamburg, Germany, Dec. 13, 2001.


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 distribution of subRosa’s founding leaflet inside provocative “biohazard” travel kits.

  • Next Five Minutes 3, Amsterdam, March, 1999.