Erogate/Surrogate 1,2,3…



erogation n. The act of giving out or bestowing. (From erogaree out + rogare to ask, to propose, to stretch out)

erogate performer n. One who asks for, gives, proposes a performance. A starting point, not ‘the orgin’.

surrogation n. The act of putting into the place of another. (From subrogaresub in place of + rogare to ask, to propose, to stretch out)

surrogate performer n. A person who carries and delivers a performance piece for another thus keeping it performing and making it anew.

corrogation n. The act of bringing together. (From corogareco with, together + rogare to ask, to propose, to stretch out)

corrogate performer n. The gatherer and caretaker/caregiver/caregifter of erogates and surrogates. The zookeeper, manager, overseer, curator.


The Erogate/Surrogate Performance Series, which premiered during the 2103 edition of the Month of Performance Art – Berlin, is a long-term experiment for which artists are asked to share their work with other artists, who then perform/transform it on their behalf. It attempts to trouble the elevated ideals of autonomy and originality by exploring and foregrounding the ways we create with and each other.

Although this curatorial device allows erogates to be as open they want to having their piece composed, re­composed and/or de­composed by their surrogates –who in turn can decide what and how much to offer and risk for what at the end of the day might still be referred to as “somebody else’s work”–, what the project reveals is that erogacy and surrogacy (and even corrogacy) are not separate activities or roles, but rather different stages of all creative processes. An erogation is only a starting point, a potential –as opposed to an “origin(al)”–, while a surrogation is a strategy to keep it in play, circulating, (a)live, present –and in a way, a new erogation in its own right.  The corrogate is the initial erogate of the cycle, as well as a surrogate of sorts all throughout. So corrogation becomes erogation becomes surrogation becomes erogation becomes surrogation… and corrogates, erogates and surrogates are simultaneously both givers and receivers, hosts and guests, entrusters and trustees…


For the 2013 edition of the Month of Performance Art, I asked three performance artists living and working in North America to each propose an work to be surrogate performed in Berlin by artists they had never met before. During the two months leading up to the event, erogates Kevin O’Connor, Shannon Rose Riley and Joanne Bristol and their appointed proxies worked together mostly over Skype and e-mail, and kept detailed records of their transatlantic exchanges and processes.  A selection of letters, chats, audio recordings, videos, photos, notes, sketches, doodles, clippings and any other resulting documents were put in exhibition with the intention of attending to if, how, when and where the ‘erogation and surrogation flows’ change direction; track moments of crisis, negotiation, resolution, elucidation and/or elaboration; and build points of reference to think about and around notions of shared authorship and ownership, collaboration, translation, openness, trust, reciprocity, generosity and the general ramifications of such an experiment.

The first pairing was to include one erogate and two surrogates, but early on, one of the two had to withdraw. The second, after some negotiation, ended up being one erogate and one surrogate performing simultaneously at two different Berlin locations and then switching sites, adding yet another layer of surrogacy to the mix. Finally, the surrogate performer of the third pairing had to cancel almost last minute due to an emergency, so the piece was performed by a surrogate of the initial surrogate.



E/S performances #1 and #3

Informed by Donna Haraway’s multi-species storytelling and practices of becoming in companionship, the bookend pieces of this series are explorations of the ways in which humans are informed by and internalize their environments, all of which include all kinds of lives of human and nonhuman-animal others. By turning to pigeons and lions, these works are not only copious exercises in ero-/surrogate dynamics, but are also explorations in interspecies epistemology and ethics, further amplifying the role of empathic engagement in the (inherently collaborative) construction of knowledge.

1. becoming with

by Kevin O’Connor (ErogateSurrogate) & Moritz Geiser (SurrogateErogate),

+ three pigeons as guest performers.



3. lie-in (lion)

by Joanne Bristol (Erogate)

Sarah Lüdemann (Initial Surrogate)

Shannon Rose Riley (Surrogate of the Surrogate)



E/S performance #2 

This piece also deals with a “becoming other”, albeit one very different from the other two in the series, and one that I expected to (per)form more smoothly. Despite belonging to the same species and sharing a common vocabulary, the erogate and surrogate’s narratives and ways of making ultimately proved to be the most knotty of the three to carry(/drag) across.

2. Ich Bin Ein Berliner: Mis(s)Translation USA Goes to Berlin

by Shannon Rose Riley (Erogate) & Andy Houston (Surrogate)



In cooperation with:


logo II II :: I


Photo documentation: Amanda Ribas-Tugwell and Lindsay Tunkl.
Special thanks: Francesca Romana Ciardi, Michelangelo Contini, Enrico Centonze, Florian Feigl, Elena Alonso, Olga Tzikouli, Elena Azzedín, Edouard Steinhauer, Lynette Hunter and Oliver Staadt.
Erogate/Surrogate 1,2,3… | 2013 | co-laborings, corrogating, creaturings, giftings, works, – all –