Marisa Morán Jahn

The Copper in my Cooch and Other Technologies

Date 9/23/19

Affiliation Artist, Cambridge, MA and New York, NY


When we think about technology, most conjure images of things automated (eg, robots) and agents automating (eg, AIs). In this talk, artist Marisa Morán Jahn broadens how we think about technology through the example of copper, whose extraction, refinement, and use is both ancient and future-forward. Copper is a pliable and naturally-occurring element found in our homes, computers, cities, lightning rods, and the IUD located in the uterus (“snatch”) of 170 million women across the world today. As the first metal mined across the world, copper’s wide usage in tools, anti-bacterials, jewelry that promotes blood circulation, household fixtures, digital networks, and reproductive technology point to its central role as a metal that lives with(in) us. Jahn will share examples from her current work, ‘Snatchural History of Copper’, a participatory art installation, book, and film that celebrates copper’s coterminous relationship with human civilization while questioning who has the right to exert control over bodies and land.


Of Ecuadorian and Chinese descent, Marisa Morán Jahn’s artworks redistribute power, “exemplifying the possibilities of art as social practice” (ArtForum). Characterizing her playful approach, MIT CAST writes, ‘[Jahn] introduces a trickster-like humor into public spaces and discourses, and yet it is a humor edged with political potency.” Key projects: BIBLIOBANDIDO (a literacy movement started in Honduras led by a story-eating bandit whom kids believe in like Santa Clas); VIDEO SLINK UGANDA (experimental films slipped or “slinked” into bootleg cinemas); a domestic worker app named as “one of 5 apps to change the world” (CNN); and CAREFORCE, a PBS/Sundance-supported film + mobile studios (NannyVan, CareForce One) that amplify the voices of America’s fastest growing workforce — caregivers. Jahn’s work has been presented at Obama’s White House, MoMA, Tribeca Film Festival, ArtBrussels, Creative Time, The New York Times, etc. Jahn is the founder of Studio REV-, an art, media, and social justice non-profit. She has taught at Columbia University, The New School, and MIT. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley and MIT.

-- As of 9/23/19