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.

Love is Strong as Death

Love is Strong as Death was first staged as a convivial feast for the five senses inspired by the inscription (after the Song of Solomon) on a clock tower on the campus of Brown University. Participants congregated around festive tables of home-cooked food and were invited to “listen, imagine, and respond to aspects and acts of political love.” Commissioned by Brown University’s Art Department, this work hearkened back to Plato’s Symposium by taking on the theme of  “political love.” The body politic is addressed through the experience of the human sensorium and the embodied situation of sharing food, wine, and thinking together. The feast performance produced ephemera and objects that were then left in the venue as a sculptural installation.*

  • In Transit: from Object to Site, David Winton Bell Gallery and Department of Visual Art, Brown University, Providence, RI, September 15, 2006.
  • Pathogeographies (or, other people’s baggage), Gallery 400, University of Illinois, Chicago, July 6, 2007.
  • Propagation, curated by Sabrina Raaf at Polvo, Chicago, Oct 13-Nov 4, 2006 [documentation & objects only].
  • Women Artists: Then and Now, Track 16 Gallery, Santa Monica, June 2–30, 2007 [documentation & objects only].

* The feast has its own web site.

Yes Species

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 Species book.  Additional images here.


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.

International Markets of Flesh (IMF)

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.

*Read about IMF in the Frakcija Performing Arts Journal and download the Flesh Worth Form.

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.

The Sex and Gender Education Show

Sex And Gender Education Show
Participants complete workbooks in preparation for finding one or more partners with whom to create the perfect child.

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.


An interactive super-sized sculptural performance originally created as an element of subRosa’s “Knowing Bodies” installation in Fusion! Artists in a Research Setting [see below]. Constructa/vulva comes with a wildly colorful collection of ‘parts’, including many sizes and shapes of labia, cervix, and clitori. Performers (in recent versions, costumed as speculums) encourage and assist audience members in creating their ideal vulva by affixing their choices of parts to Velcroed surfaces. An instant portrait of the audience member with their creation was given to them.* The project honors the 1970s Feminist Women’s Health Movement, which encouraged women to get to know, love, and care for their own bodies and sexualities.

  • Fusion! Artists in a Research Setting, Regina Gouger Miller Gallery, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, Aug. 22–Sept. 29, 2000.
  • EveryBody!: Visual resistance in feminist health movements, 1969-2009, curated by Bonnie Fortune. I-Space, Chicago. Sept. 11–Oct. 10, 2009 & Carleton College Gallery, April–May, 2011.