The subRosa Collective: Cyberfeminist Interventions
At the busy junction of art, activism, critical science studies, and
blunt-talking politics, the subRosa collective has generated
dozens—possibly more—of performances and texts that explore the intersection
of reproductive technology and reproductive justice.
subRosa is brainy and approachable, hilarious, disturbing and
reassuring. Yes, their works seem to say, it really is as bad as you
think. And no, you are not alone in noticing. For a collective that
does so much work online, their corpus is surprisingly visceral, never
allowing the Taylorist impulse of modern reproduction to split the body
into parts that are less personal, less bodily, or simply mechanistic.
They are underhanded purveyors of "scientism"—using the forms,
images, structures of (reproductive) science in a way that baldly
displays the authoritarianism and eugenicism that so often lurks there.
One of the most consistent and remarkable achievements of the subRosa
collective has to do with the affective tone of their projects. Their
works address (potential and actual) buyers and sellers in what they
call "the flesh market" with a matter-of-factness that feels friendly
and disarming even though the critiques are devastatingly sharp.
Somehow, the judgments and intense emotions their works invite are the
viewers', and it seems much more engaging and effective than splaying
their own judgments all over the pieces. Their works invite us to think
and react: what might we do about this? They leave us smarter.
We have gathered here some of subRosa's most potent materials dealing
with reproductive technologies and justice. The texts, forms,
photographs, and links were all created by subRosa except where
specifically noted. As an 'anti-copyright' collective, subRosa
generously makes their materials freely available on the web via their
make sure to provide proper attribution
to subRosa if you use these materials. We encourage you to visit their
site early and often to see more.
We'll start with subRosa's Manifesto, taken from their website, and then move
on to materials from two of their projects: U-Gen-A-Chix and Expo EmmaGenics.
subRosa's name honors feminist pioneers in art, activism,
labor, science, and politics: Rosa Bonheur, Rosa Luxemburg, Rosie the
Riveter, Rosa Parks and Rosie Franklin.
subRosa is a reproducible cyberfeminist cell of cultural
researchers committed to combining art, activism, and politics to
explore and critique the effects of the intersections of the new
information and biotechnologies on women's bodies, lives, and work.
subRosa produces artworks, activist campaigns and projects,
publications, media interventions, and public forums that make visible
the effects of the interconnections of technology, gender, and
difference; feminism and global capital; new bio and medical
technologies and women's health; and the changed conditions of labor and
reproduction for women in the integrated circuit.
subRosa practices a situational embodied feminist politics
nourished by conviviality, self-determination, and the desire for
affirmative alliances and coalitions.
Let a million subRosas bloom!
In the Cultures of Eugenics pamphlet, created for their
performance piece U-Gen-A-Chix, subRosa juxtaposes the world of
technologically-assisted reproduction among humans with the science and
commerce of modern global agribusiness. After they answer their own
question "Why are chickens like women? and women like chickens?" you
might never think of reproductive technologies (or
genetically-engineered foods) the same way again. Here, we display the
Cultures of Eugenics pamphlet, the U-Gen-A-Chix project description, and
a link to the website created for earliest version of this performance
("US Grade AAA Premium Eggs," Bowling Green State University, Ohio,
April, 2002). The website, for a fictional egg donor business called
"Express Choice (A Division of Technical Advantage Genetics
Corporation)," includes an interactive worksheet for calculating "Your
Net Worth on the Flesh Market!" as well as an "Egg Donor Application
Form." Make sure to click on all the links!
Expo EmmaGenics displays the uncomfortable entanglements
of corporate biotechnology, US imperialism, and would-be parents'
commitments to "superior" offspring and consumer choice. With its
dreamy, futuristic soundtrack, friendly/authoritative female narrator,
and plenty of high-tech graphics and sophisticated trade show props,
Expos EmmaGenics is a fantasy "woman-friendly" trade show. The
narrator's invitation to participate in the show models the biotech
industry's common tactic of coopting feminist language and ideals to
support the corporate, consumerist vision of reproduction: "Find out how
you can enjoy complete reproductive choice and control. Expo Emmagenics
supports a woman's choice to participate in the fertility industry."