The basic structure of the
pFARM performance is tri-subcultural:
A: Organic Farming Subculture
B: Sado-Masochistic Subculture
C: Biotech Company Subculture
Place: Woodstock, New York, USA
As with any small town, rumours are spreading. Something
is not right about that little farm down the way. Some have seen older
men dressed as animals pulling a plow. They call themselves the pFARM
Klan. They are young utopian farmers working on a planned community right
here in the hippy heartland, Woodstock, New York. It makes your heart
So how can they be so politically un-hipsterish? They have taken to wearing
rubber shorts and mink stoles and nothing else while parading around town
handing out flowers. It is legal to be topless in Woodstock but this is
a little much. Some of them have riding crops hanging from their belts
and others have been known to walk around our town shopping… while
handcuffed together. How can they try to sell herbal tinctures at the
Flea Market dressed like that? Is this bad for business?
The most irksome rumour is all that talk about the pFARM high security
laboratory. What kind of cryptic, kabbalistic research is being applied
within? Someone heard something about mutation? And, we do sometimes hear
of screams in the middle of the night. What kind of freaks are these backwoods
folk? What is really going on here?
They have advertised visiting hours in the local paper, so we decide to
go visit pFARM.
As we enter the small farm, we are subjected to having our picture taken
by video intercom and we must sign some kind of non-disclosure forms.
I’m not even sure if this story I’m telling is legal for me
to publish. Now the tour begins. We are led around by a young retro-hippie
who seems to be wearing a diaper under his torn blue jeans. We are told
that we have the full run of the place, except for the red barn, which
is emphatically declared Off Limits to Visitors and referred to as ‘The
Lab’. According to our guide, there are initiation rites and safety
training sessions that must be passed before gaining access to that area.
Entrance is allowed only after passing one of a variety of VivoArts Intensive
Courses given twice a month. It seems that Chicken Embryology Mutagenesis/Sculpting,
Experimental Organic Plant Tissue Culture and Cryogenic Storage of Cell
Lines for Pleasure are all courses which are available to the general
public as short attention span, weekend-hippy crash courses. This is how
one might gain access to ‘The Lab.’
Other than that, we are shown to a lively chicken coop, we meet two pigmy
goats, Hecate and Dionysius, and we walk around a few acres of cultivated
flowers and medicinal plants. The soil, it is explained, is amended with
vermiculite and chicken shit, peat moss and bone meal, blue rock and blood.
“There is no culture without agriculture,” we are told. Biodynamic,
Organic, Permaculture and Heirloom Seed Saving methods of farming are
explained. There is a small greenhouse with all sorts of baby medicinal
plants, St. Johns Wort, Toothache Plant, Mullein, Echinacea, Comfrey and
North American Ginseng. Some communal idealists are busy watering, transplanting
and turning over the compost pile. They speak to us of alternative medicine,
capitalism and schizophrenia. They also give a small lecture on the history
of hybridization. Apparently hand pollination goes back to Egyptian times.
There appears to be consensus communality between the various actors but
they are a bit strange. The bad taste hippy-garb/punk-PVC-fetish mixed
wardrobe is bad enough. But here on the farm the playacting sometimes
gets a bit out of hand. Some of the pFARMers are hooded or have rings
through their noses attached to little golden chains. Two black leather
clad Dominas patrol the perimeter, giving orders to the lay workers, “Loosen
the Soil with your Hands!” and “Be Gentle with the Transplants!”
One of the pFARMers speaks out of turn and is led off by his nose. He
is subject to animal-related insults and forcibly buried in the fermenting
humectress of the compost pile. We are a bit enthralled and a bit put
off by all the psychodrama. This really is a strange place.
We retire to the bookstore and kitchen for snacks and literature. One
of the devotees gives us a pitch. Courses are taught. Internships are
possible. Complete submission programs are expensive but offered at a
discount, if we are willing to become human subjects in their new reproductive
research laboratory. Improved or just merely altered life forms are being
organically mutated through pFARM research. “It is all organic,”
we are told. We are given flowers and an info packet. We are invited to
a ritual Celebration of the Earth party. We are assured numerous times
that, “This is not a cult.”
A: Organic Farming Subculture
A French Intensive, Biodynamic-influenced tract of farmland has been cultivated
in the woods near Woodstock, New York (exact location kept secret). We
have joined the Farmers’ Market Federation of New York. We seek
the aid of skilled Permaculture Advisors and Interpretive Land Use Experts
on what plants are native and medicinal, how to cultivate following the
lay of the land, how to ensure organic (or at least non-conventional)
claims are honest and how to best inform/deform the present day conceptions
of ‘getting back to nature’.
B: Sado-Masochistic Subculture
Our hired hands, also codified as ‘domestic animals’, are
often faux-kidnapped from the reservoir of New York City’s excess
of submissive professionals. We have joined The Society of Janus. We invite
the potent forces of of any and all professional or lifestyle Dominas
to help rule our pFARM. We sponsor fetish monomania themed weekends and
advertise in some of New York City’s skuzziest smut rags (e.g.,
Screw Magazine). The submissives are forced to till the earth, aid in
mulching compost and care for the plants and animals. They are kept in
pens or sleep with the chickens. They are philosophically retrained to
access their inner ‘becoming animal’ abilities.
C: Biotech Company Subculture
Behind the scenes various Biotechnological games are played —
- Submissives must sign away their rights as human subjects. They
then donate hair follicles and other body fluids to pFARM in a sex-magik
genomic librarian fetish manoeuver that must be documented to be believed.
The biological samples are stored in the barn. The rights to these
cell lines are legally owned by pFARM. The pFARM Cryogenic Storage
Library will be offered to the highest bidder online as a submissive
genomic databank. Perhaps the samples should be donated to US Homeland
Security Research so they can isolate the gene for submissive behavior?
I’m sure that would help aid world domination! And pFARMers
deserve to be known as the trustworthy and selfless patriots that
- The meaning of these actions is summed up in the spontaneous rituals
that unfold. When we surround the actuality of modern molecular biolab
processes with an overly romantic agricultural space, which encourages
fetishistic and erotic performativity, then and only then does labwork,
as a cult behavioral plane, have a chance to reveal its inner workings.
The masturbatory zeitgeist of alterity and fatherhood that is implied
by both agriculture and sci-culture is made translucent in the near
honesty of pFARM.
- We have also joined the New York Metropolitan Embryology Society
and plan to be offering a Ph.D. in the Practice of Artistic Human
Engineering within the year.
Eleven Reasons why this is important:
1- The tension between Green Movement Grassroots Agriculture and High
Tech GMO Pharming is one of the major schisms in our everyday lives.
Industry rhetorical tropes vie for continued dominance over sustainable
and appropriate technology mindsets in an eco-catastrophic world of
overpopulation and mass extinction. We have destroyed the multiuse function
of the Earth in the name of human-centric, obsessive-compulsive hygiene
psychosis. We also rely on new agribusiness technologies to prevent
famine by upping production, sometimes at any cost. On the other hand,
most organic products are affordable only to middle and upper class
citizens. Both venues lay claims to a higher standard of health, cleanliness
and superior realisms. Both point fingers at the baseness of the other.
And generally, both camps have doubleplusgood gods or goddesses to back
them up in the clinch.
2- Though quite different in their propagandistic goals, neither Organic
nor Biotech avenues of expression can appreciate any Sado-Masochistic
metaphors applied to their preferred process. Both are willing to concede
the essential dominance over nature that farming and livestock represent.
But, neither will cop to the inherent fetishism and overt control issues
that are expressed by these ways of being. Both find open, excessive
eroticism to be decadent and wasteful. Communists and Capitalists agree,
decadence is caused by their enemy’s moral lack. This sexual economy
3- Though the psychodrama of Victorian Boudoir play is part of popular
culture, so is its secretiveness. In my experience, both Organic Farmers
and BioTech executives are demographically participating in eroticized
power relations on a professional level. I do have two years experience
as a co-worker in a house of domination. All professions are quietly
represented. Professionals who partake in commercially available fetish
sessions may be using secrecy as part of the titillating thrill. Transgression
is therefore sometimes a preferential ritual to liberate a personal
monomania and it is also sometimes a cued revelry semi-allowed in a
socially constructed, silently legal ‘forbidden zone’.
But, there is another subset of the sex-activist community who are interested
in outing the taboo, making ecstatic and experimental sexological practice
an acceptable part of the everyday. We refuse the pay-per-view commercial
version of adult playtime. It is the orgasmic way of life, the uncovering
of our hedonistic juvenilia that implicates the puritanical binary opposites
of green (money) and grey (utility) in the world of red (blood), white
(milk and sperm) and black (shit/soil.)4- Therefore, pFARM creates a
tripartite tension between various concepts of power and social propriety.
It is hoped that this will create a space of conflicting worldviews
that are culturally difficult to blend. We thereby hope to open up thought
processes beyond the tunnel vision of any of these specialty practitioners.
The complexity of this performance will certainly bother anybody willing
to live in a democracy that can’t handle the complexity of hosting
more than two political parties, is permissive of Third World-styled
coups and submits to policies that result in irrational world war .
5- The placement of the power Farm in Woodstock, New York (which is
my home town) is especially important. As a central iconic vestige of
Hippy/Yippie/Yuppie culture, Woodstock is in need of a grassroots public
performance pimple to remind its denizens of the other side of the peace
and love sixties mediated pabulum. Predominantly a quaint tourist town,
very expensive and elitist, this tie-dyed scenic vacation arena has
lost its agitation propaganda edge. Some people refer to its townspeople
as trustafarians. Few of us remember fondly the tactics of Abbie Hoffman
and the Chicago 8. Few of us base our practice on the really annoying
Yippie culture-fuckers. Most of my parent’s generation all just
lost themselves on Cocaine, Mortgage Payments and Amnesia after Kent
State, after they realized that the government might just shoot them
too. That’s why the Black Panthers, the SLA and The Weathermen
are all just lumpable under the single word — ‘evil’
— in pop-politics these days. As a symbolic bastion of leftist
free thought, Woodstock needs a wheatgrassroots enema. It is my hope
that by being forced to house or confront the power FARM, something
other than complacent-activist rhetoric might rear its head. Even if
it is reactionary, it is another kind of outing of implicit mores.
6- Actual Paganism, philosophically, implicates many of the roots of
both traditional farming (Dionysian) and high-tech farming (Alchemical).
By emphasizing the Goddess/Dominatrix ruling over the original Beasts
of Burden — Men — we may signal a return to the erotic origins
of domesticity. With the first furrow, the Rites of Spring will untarnish
the underground fetish scene in the name of complexity and honest admission
of power relations, where and how they are actually applied. Anti-Apollo
Styled Psychodrama will infect determinism as we call on chaos to be
the self-organizing impetus for our performance. Highly spontaneous
and improvised rituals will emanate, morphogenetically, to spurn the
status quo and open avenues of escape. Closeted angel-faced ascetic
romanticism will be spurned in cultish blebbing of rigorous and ritualistic
a-truism. We will be forced to live! Viva Vivo!
7- All three of these crisscrossing avenues will be run as ‘businesses’.
Not commercial businesses but faux businesses. Businesses incorporated
on paper only. The FARM will produce tinctures of organic herbal drugs
like Spilanthus (Toothache Plant, an edible nervine), Echinacea, Comfrey,
St. John’s Wort and Mullein as well as some edibles to be sold
at the farmer’s market in leather gear and pink overalls (strap-ons
optional.) The Submissive farm animal people will pay for their humiliating
participation. The blood and body fluid bank may be sold or mapped.
There are potentially valued genes — for FET (fetishism), MMA
(monomania) and SUBm (submission) — to be sequenced and injected
into embryos of erotomaniacal baby designers. The embryological work
in the lab area may actually produce some novel plants and animals,
worth more as art objects, controversial living beings or strange gastronomical
delicacies, than any of the aforementioned schemes. This mishmash of
Pharming and Phantasy as cash-intensive minuet should invite the wrath
of any repressive social reaction to confront the seedy side of our
‘free’ market, capital-obtrusive, and thoroughly heisted
lives. By the way, I know commercial ventures are not supported by the
LF… we can talk about non-profit status, performing incorporation
and the possibility of burning all cash tendered as ways out of this
clash between funding protocol and corporate posturing. If the stigma
of commercial venture are not supported by the pFARM Klan… we
can talk about non-profit status, performing incorporation and/or the
possibility of burning all cash tendered. These are ways out of this
clash between the actuality of Promethean funding protocol and critical
8- The animal experimentation is really the crux of this project. Although
a small and hidden garage enterprise, it may be difficult legally and
ethically to accomplish the mutagenisations. If I form a business model,
the legality may conform to that structure, even if it is art related.
It may also be the only way to be protected from lawsuits. For some
reason, profit motive seems to bend the law in this nation? Finally,
if litigation does come to pass, the optional business model may implicate
other startup biopharm companies in a web of legal obscurities.
a. The Animal Controller of Woodstock might find grave cause for
inspection and we would have to find the maximum allowable animal
experimentation in Woodstock. This could also be more than the local
Animal Activists could bear.
b. The question of organic mutagenesis is contentious. Knowing the
protocols for both, I would love to make it difficult to define
where unnatural acts begin in an agricultural process.
c. The mutations I plan are not targeted. Neither are they tagged.
We would just shoot from the hip and see what grows up and how.
This is not science but anarchic one-of-a-kind VivoArt production
schema. This is also biohazardous.
9- The collection of human tissues is also a biohazard. AIDS tests may
be required. A skilled phlebotomist might help. Luckily, many nurses
are fetish oriented. Librarians too! The use of human subjects and the
patenting of cell lines are realms of contention worth exploring…
which brings us to…
10- Forms. I love forms! Forms to me are Performative Space. There are
several Legal documents I should like to have written up, for instance:
Combination Model Release/Human Subjects Informed Consent Forms, Release
of Individual Cell Lines for Bio-Artistic Research or Resale, Aesthetic
Embryological Breeding Tactics Business Plan including A Request for
the Right to Conduct Mutagenic Chicken and Plant Embryology and Human
Tissue Research in the Town of Woodstock. Other important forms would
result in a small but tactical arrangement of Artistic Support Rejection
Forms from a variety of insultable sources, i.e. NEA, NIH, The Woodstock
Guild of Craftsmen, and Biogen. A general business plan could set up
pFARM as a non-profit incorporation, tax free, possibly religious (I
am a minister) and openly erotic on the books.
11- On certain days and nights, professional Dominatrixes will direct
the farm and all farm work will be fetishised to the maximum degree.
At other times, biotechnological and ecological seasoned professionals
could run free seminars and practical labs. The use of real and imaginary
worlds folded in on each other is one of my greatest goals. That is
why I like making these fantasies publicly accessible, matter of fact
and fantastic. So this would be a teach-in and an act-out arena.
And yes, it is true, this is not a cult. But, from one strange, temporary
and autonomous culture to another, the inherently bogus and potentially
joyous alt-culture movement continues to rear its head. pFARM, a Power
Farm, a Biotech Fetish Organic Farm Incorporated is an implausible trinity.
Formed under the joint title of pFARM, the powerFARM is actually a site
specific, multiperson, liminal consciousness accessing, boundary-pushing
micro-society. Crossing the wires of multiple contentious debates in an
actuated, rural and grassroots public space, The pFARM Project is another
of this world’s botched planned communities waiting to happen.
The powerFARM is open to the public and yet intentionally secretive about
some of its activities. You are invited to donate your life and all of
your assets to the performance force and site-specific travails that it
will take to get this thing off the ground. The summers in NY are muggy
and humid, escape to the Catskills is a timeworn tradition. I think a
core group could convince new followers to join and we might reach true
love-in capacity by summer’s end. The youth of the town need the
impetus. The spirit of the town needs the post-60s/post-punk spectacle
for the revival to stop retro-kultural looping in neutral. I will try
my best to include locals and local wisdom into my repertoire. I will
also try to include as wide a variety of fetishists, ecologists and mutation
specialists in the formation and practice of pFARM.
pEOPLE or pARTNERS welcome to be involved in pFARM:
pERFORMANCE Artists, Musicians, Dominatrixes, Fetishists, Organic Farmers,
Conservation Ecologists, Embryologists, Molecular Biologists, Video Documenters,
Volunteers, Submissive Investors, the generally devout
and The pUBLIC.
The space is open to high weirdness, spontaneous access to a variety of
mindsets and self-initiated interlopers.
If you are interested, Contact: