Toxic Titties

Toxic Titties is a collaborative group of feminist artists who have been working together continuously for the past two years. Our practices include video, performance, photography, installation, event planning, and A central area of investigation in our work is the problematics of identity politics. We perform different roles in each of our pieces in order to produce an indeterminate subject position. Through camp and hyper-performance, we denaturalize femininity's relationship to the female body. The practices of 70's feminism, especially those centered in performance and body art, have been a touchstone in our work.

Toxic Union (April 23, 2002):
This piece was an investigation of the types of legal contracts that the Toxic Titties have access to, and what types of contractual relationship are legally and culturally rewarded. Toxic Titties enacted the signing of their business contract in the form of a wedding ceremony in order to celebrate our construction of alternative structures that allow us to access some of the same legal, financial and immigration benefits as marriage. Traditional wedding ceremonies have the function of actively involving ones community, drawing them together as participants and witnesses of a legally and socially acknowledged union. This "wedding" was a highly performative queer spectacle which brought together members of our art and queer communities and asked them to acknowledge the significance of a very different kind of union. The frame of the gallery allowed for our Toxic Union to function simultaneously as a real event and as a performance.

Promise (2002):
This work consists of a 3 channel video installation, three silver rings engraved with the word "promise", a copy of the Toxic Titties General Partnership Agreement, and the invitations to the Toxic Union. One tape shows an hour of us negotiating the terms of our contractual agreement. This is opposed by a second tape, which frames our relationship within the tropes of romantic love. A third tape consists of us each individually reciting lists of the best and worst things about collaboration, and the best and worst things about being in love. The contract served as a way for us to negotiate the terms of our collaborative relationship. The contract as a performative document comes out of a tradition of male conceptualism, but the content of our agreement is part of our feminist practice. This practice is one committed to the development of alternative discursive, artistic and economic structures which can sustain our work as Toxic Titties.

Camp TT (2001):
In 1998, the F-word symposium attempted to bridge the gap between the current generation of feminist students and the participants in Womanhouse and the Feminist Art Program at CalArts in the 1970s. Because the history of feminism at CalArts is rarely addressed in the normal course of our education, the Toxic Titties felt that there was a need to revitalize community interest in feminist and queer issues. Toxic Titties is committed to continuing the legacy of the feminist art program at CalArts, and expanding the discussion to include the whole CalArts community. We are entering into a time of increased conservatism, which intensifies the need for political awareness in all areas of cultural production. This current cultural climate requires a different approach to activism and politically motivated work. Toxic Titties made a hybrid between a symposium and a summer camp as a way to present our issues in a way that was compelling for the CalArts community. We strategically used the tactics of pleasure and play as a way to involve audiences who would not normally find questions of feminism relevant to them. By housing Camp TT in a gallery space, we framed this event as a conceptual art work. Formally, we followed in the tradition of non-object based work employed by artists such as Carolee Schneeman, Yoko Ono, Valie Export and Adrian Piper. We attempted to use the gallery space as a forum for feminist discourse rather than a place to house objects.

The IKEA Project (2001):
In 1994 IKEA aired the first advertisement ever to depict an explicitly gay couple on American network television. We took the script and editing structure of this advertisement and replaced the middle class, hetero-normative gay male couple starring in the commercial with the Toxic Titties. This series of nine 30 second videos starts off with the Toxic Titties dressed as IKEA’s target market and transforms with each iteration in order to exaggerate the original ad’s idealization of domesticity and traditional constructions of family.
The second component of the installation is a 4’ x 5’ gilt “family frame” featuring six photographs of the Toxic Titties posing in the domestic retail sets of IKEA Burbank. In this Photo series the Toxic Titties double as an alternative family structure, and a potential target market.

Title: Toxic Titties
Show: Chinatown (Performance)