Micro Performativity of Sex Hormones 💦

Through an open call for a group exhibition Interacting Art at Raumschiff Gallery, a particiating show at the Ars Electronica festival, Micro Performativity of Sex Hormones uses the “Urine-Hormone-Extraction-Action” protocol to create “hormone portraits” of the other artists in the show. I approached each artist asking them for a urine sample so that I could extract their hormones and put them on display. I also informed them that the hormone samples will not be anonymous and would be connected to oxygen masks, allowing the audience to smell and partake in the hormone experience. Almost all of the artists reacted with discomfort, mainly at the thought that the smell of their urinary hormones would repulse members of the public. Hormones, when extracted from the urine, continue to act outside the body as chemically-signaling pheromones. From my experience, the olfactory reaction to urinary hormones actually differs from person to person because everybody has a different composition of receptors in the nose. Smell being the least understood of the five senses, there isn’t enough consistency in scientific data to explain the effects (neurological, psychological, behavioral) of urinary hormones in humans. However, we can still speculate that the inhalation of the pheromones initiates a “micro-colonization” of the mind that is both ancient and evolutionary, a chemical signaling that spans all animal taxa.


Who was the nomadic biohacker searching for a new hormone intimacy, experimenting in a dank, dark dungeon somewhere in Linz? Showing the aftermath of urine-hormone extraction, the hormonal shrines situated themselves next to the “freak-science” open lab process from which they originate, displaying the Estrofem! Lab nomadic suitcases filled with all the materials, samples, and chemicals customized to the artist’s biohacking style and personal methodology. Revealing the experimental process not only demystifies the scientific method but also demonstrates that process is just as significant as final result. The open lab installation of Estrofem! Lab suitcases also reject the sterility and purity of both the laboratory space and the gallery “white-box.” The open lab installation shows biology and biochemistry for what it is: messy, uncontrollable, and open for mutations and subjectivitie outside of institutional access and normalization.