Marisa Morán Jahn | Snatchural History of Copper 

Marisa Morán Jahn as Aphrodite, goddess of love and copper, Oct 2019

Art and architecture installation and performance lecture, SNATCHural HISTORY OF COPPER, supported by MIT and Creative Time, mixes humor, science, and wonder to explore solutions to mining, America’s #1 toxic polluter.

Installation Premiere: Saturday, Nov 16 at Cooper Union 

Additional events, talks, and shareouts:
Friday, November 8: Dundee Scotland
Wednesday, November 13: MIT in Cambridge
Friday, November 15: Cooper Union

A public art project and performance premiering in Fall 2019, a SNATCHural HISTORY of COPPER begins when artist and MIT Lecturer Marisa Morán Jahn discovered that her IUD (intrauterine device) is made from copper, prompting her to embark on a journey to trace “where the copper in my snatch comes from.” What unfolds is an exploration of copper, an extracted mineral on which our households, cities, digital desires and selves depend.

Through interviews with geologists, metallurgists, environmentalists, policymakers, and economists, Jahn learns about solutions to hardrock mineral extraction which is currently the America’s #1 toxic polluter – contributing almost half of all reported toxic releases in the U.S. and contaminating over 40% of the headwaters in the West. Weaving together science, myth, and politics to make new connections, a SNATCHural HISTORY of COPPER invites the public into an alchemical and humorous experience of urgent ecological issues today.


On Friday, November 15 at 2:55 pm at Cooper Union’s Great Hall (7 East 7th St, New York City), Jahn will give a performance-lecture in which she conjures Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and of copper. Dressed in what she calls “Hellenic glam,” Jahn poetically addresses the audience as both lover and threat: “You need me; I’m already in your blood and regulate your devices. But above 5 milligrams a day, I will start to take over until what seems most sovereign — your own body — becomes mine.” Jahn weaves in information about the Center for Biological Diversity’s recent legislative victory which halted a copper mine from destroying the Santa Rita Mountains, an ecological jewel in Southern Arizona where jaguars freely roam, as well as the watershed supplying water to 1 Million urban residents located just an hour away in Tucson. Jahn’s performance is accompanied by graphics and GIFs that she collaboratively designed with Jenni Yang, multimedia artist who designed GIFs for Beyoncé’s 2013 “Mrs. Carter Show” world tour. 


On Saturday, November 16, from 11-4 pm at 41 Cooper Square (Engineering Building, Lower Level), visitors can attend the SNATCHural CHAPEL, a pop-up tensile structure sewn from conductive copper silk. 

Designed by award-winning architect and MIT Assistant Professor Rafi Segal, the cross-form structure derives influence from both space pods and Byzantine-era fertility temples. Before visitors to the installation enter the SNATCHural Chapel, they ritualistically encounter a series of copper-based artifacts: a contemporary IUD, a replica of a copper-based contraceptive device (“pessary”) from 400 BCE Rome, and a motherboard. Together, the three artifacts present a fascinating story of extimacy (the mediation of intimacy through technology) and raise questions about how we understand technology altogether. Once inside the mysterious chapel, visitors are ensured a space free of interruptions: the conductive copper fabric blocks out cellphone signals (as an IUD blocks out incoming sperm) to create a controlled, interior space of intimacy.

While the project’s book and film will become public at a later date, a SNATCHural HISTORY of COPPER’s performance-lectures and installation premiere in New York City at Creative Time, the nation’s largest public art organization, whose 10th-anniversary summit takes place this November.


Additional auxiliary events


On Friday, November 8, 4:30-5:30 pm at Steps Theatre in Dundee, Scotland, Jahn will give a keynote presentation as part of NeON Festival (Northeast of Northeast). 

On Wednesday, November 13, 10:30-12 pm at MIT (E15-232) in Cambridge, MA, Jahn and architect Rafi Segal invite the public to attend the final reviews for their workshop entitled “Mine(s) and Others.” Sponsored by MIT’s Transmedia Storytelling Initiative, “Mine(s) and Others” seeks to strengthen a sense of connection, accountability, and attention to the complexity of extractive landscapes — our dependency and desires, the promise of sustainability, indigenous sovereignty, and how we re-assume political power. While the students’ work draws focus to the Center for Biological Diversity’s current campaigns to halt copper mining in Arizona and make longer term legislative change to America’s 150 year old mining laws, more broadly, the course asks students to consider how creative transmedia stories can play a key role in deepening and shaping the pubic imaginary around extraction. 


Marisa Morán Jahn, Lead Artist, Writer, Director, Producer

An artist, filmmaker, and creative technologist 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.” She is the founder of Studio REV, a non-profit organization that codesigns public art and creative media co-designed with low-wage workers, immigrants, and women. Produced with Yael Melamede, CareForce is a public art and film project that amplifies the voices of America’s fastest growing workforce, caregivers. CareForce includes two mobile studios (NannyVan, CareForce One), a Tribeca Film Institute-supported app for domestic workers that CNN named as “one of 5 apps to change the world,” and “CareForce One Travelogues.” Jahn’s work has been featured at venues ranging from worker centers to The White House to museums and festivals (Museum of Modern Art, Walker Art Center, Today Art Museum, Asian Art Museum, New Museum, Art Brussels). Her work has been widely covered by The New York Times, Art Forum, Art in America, BBC, CNN, Univision, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Hyperallergic, and hundreds more. Jahn is an awardee of Creative Capital, Sundance, Anonymous Was a Woman, and has taught at MIT, The New School, and Columbia University.



Key Collaborators

Rafi Segal, Architect, Key Collaborator

Rafi Segal is an architect and Associate Professor of Architecture and Urbanism at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His work involves design and research on the architectural, urban and regional scale, currently focusing on how emerging notions of collectivity can impact the design of buildings and cities. His current ongoing work includes designs for new communal neighborhoods in Israel, Boston, Rwanda, and the Philippines. Segal is co-editor of Cities of Dispersal (Architecture Design 2008), Territories — Islands, Camps and Other States of Utopia (Kunstwert 2003). With Eyal Weisman, Segal co-authored A Civilian Occupation (Babel, Verso 2003). Segal has exhibited his work widely, most notably at Storefront for Art and Architecture; KunstWerk, Berlin; Witte de With, Rotterdam; Venice Biennale of Architecture; MoMA in New York; and at the Hong Kong/Shenzhen Urbanism Biennale. His recent book Space-Packed (Park Books, 2017) brings to light the life and work of Czech architect Alfred Neumann. Rafi Segal holds a PhD from Princeton University and two degrees from Technion, Israel Institute of Technology — M.Sc and B.Arch. Prior to MIT he taught architecture and urbanism at various European and US schools among them the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Columbia University, the Cooper Union School of Architecture, and Princeton University.     


Caroline Garcia, Performance Artist

Caroline Garcia’s live performances and videos reimagine forgotten choreographies and the mimetic capacities of the Filipina. Her performances have been presented at the Manila Biennale, Art Central Hong Kong, The Vera List Center for Arts and Politics, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, and more. She is the 2018/19 recipient of the American Australian Association’s AUSART Fellowship Award.


Amy Rosenblum Martín, Independent Curator

Amy Rosenblum Martín is a New York-based independent curator of contemporary art, celebrated for her expertise in Latinx art and art history. Her recent exhibition, “Ana Mendieta: Thinking about Children’s Thinking” at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum was a 2018 Artforum Critic’s Pick. Her precedent-setting work on Lucio Fontana in Argentina (Columbia University) and Josef Albers in Mexico (Bronx Museum) led to subsequent shows about the same at the Met and the Guggenheim. She curated U.S. museum solo debuts by Dara Friedman, Adler Guerrier, Quisqueya Henríquez, Javier Tellez, and others. She has been a staff curator at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (when it was MAM) and The Bronx Museum. She also has worked for MoMA, the Guggenheim, The Met, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Hirshhorn, MACBA in Barcelona, the Reina Sofía in Madrid, London’s National Portrait Gallery, and Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria as well as Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros. Amy received a BA from Oberlin College and a MA in Art History from Columbia University.


Yael Melamede, Film Producer

Films by Yael Melamede (SALTY Features) include the Academy Award winning INOCENTE – directed by Sean and Andrea Fine; the Emmy-nominated WHEN I WALK, written/directed by Jason Da Silva and Alice Cook (Sundance); BRIEF INTERVIEWS WITH HIDEOUS MEN, written/directed by John Krasinski – based on the book by David Foster Wallace (Sundance); the Academy Award-winning MY ARCHITECT, directed by Nathaniel Kahn, (DIS)HONESTY – The Truth About Lies created with Dan Ariely (Full Frame), and CAREFORCE, produced with Marisa Morán Jahn.


Alix Lambert, Film Co-Director 

Alix Lambert has worked as a director, producer, and writer for organizations such as Nightline, PBS LIFE 360, This American Life, the video game Syndicate, and indie bands. As an artist, Lambert’s work has been presented at The Venice Biennale, MoMA, The Georges Pompidou Center, and the Kwangju Biennnale, etc. She is the author of Mastering The Melon, The Silencing, Russian Prison Tattoos, and Crime. Her pilot episode of Obits will premiere at Tribeca, 2019.  



  • Sunny Bates, Braintrust, TED Talks, Kickstarter; Entrepreneur
  • Kendal Henry, Curator, Artist, Public Art Consultant
  • Christiane Paul, Curator, Whitney Museum
  • Tricia Wang, Global Tech Ethnographer
  • Chikako Takeshita, Professor, UC Riverside; Author, The Global Biopolitics of the IUD
  • Joan Brookbank, Literary Agent