Saliva Bar

Bodily Autonomy, Mandeville Art Gallery, San Diego, CA
Curated by Ceci Moss
March 2–May 25, 2024

The Saliva Bar installation offers the opportunity to trade your own saliva with others facilitated by saliva baristas in a customized dispensary experience. After spitting in a vial, you tag the sample with self-identified descriptors, and in exchange, are allowed to browse the library of saliva for a vial of someone else’s saliva to take home — perhaps that of a “queer, Asian, dog-loving doctor” or an “athletic French woman with ADHD.” The counter-gesture of this saliva exchange sidesteps the anonymity of medical and corporate entities, and invites conversation about data privacy, race, gender, and class as they pertain to genetic material. While the decision to exchange saliva may seem strange to some, it should be each individual’s decision. In this way, the practice embraces bodily autonomy in a moment when reproductive rights are being threated.

Outside the Saliva Bar, digital signage created in collaboration with @reas displays a “tongue texted” message inviting you to the exchange asking “Are you the perfect specimen?”

Consent is a key element and custom software prompts a human-friendly negotiation of the terms of exchange. Do you consent to your saliva being used ...for research? reproduce biological material? insurance companies? create weapons? Each saliva receipt documents the terms.


Surrogate collaboration: Dorothy R. Santos
Surrogate cinematography: Gabriel Noguez
Surrogate graphic design: Stefanie Tam
Surrogate prosthetic research and development: Paul Esposito
The Intended Parents film direction: David Leonard
The Intended Parents assistant camera: Liz Ehlers, Jake Frankenfield, John Szczepaniak
The Intended Parents cast: Howard Cai & Jose Infante, Fredrik Bystzof & Karen Bystzof, Christine Cabana & Ari Huber, Miguel Cavazos & Maui Santos, Sam Congdon, Catherine Cray & Debra Smalley, Diana Hardy & Antoine Ramsey, Sophia Lapaglia & Oliver Mason, Dorothy R. Santos, Yasi Salek & Sean Preston, Nathalie Shapiro & Glen Callahan
Training Set sculpture design collaboration and fabrication: Eunice Choi
Are you the perfect specimen? co-direction: Casey Reas
Saliva consent and software co-design and dev: Boaz Sender
Saliva graphic design: Lauren Leung Cramer
Saliva device development: Song Wu
Saliva software support: Wylie Kasai
Saliva Retreat film direction: David Leonard
Saliva Retreat cinematography and editing: Gabriel Noguez
Saliva Retreat second camera: Sean Rowry
Saliva Retreat sound recording: Matthew Sanchez
Saliva Retreat sound mix: Evan Arnold
Saliva Retreat film production assistance: Antonio Noguez
Saliva Retreat Performance Stage Manager: Chelly Jin
Saliva Retreat performance production assistance: Isabella Lee and Antigoni Tsagkaropoulou
Saliva Retreat participants: Chelly Jin, Isabella Lee, Antigoni Tsagkaropoulou
Cast: Aya, Abi, Alice Bucknell, Ramie Abu-Zahra, Siena Chiang, Eunice Choi, Taeyoon Choi, Connor Cook, Behnaz Farahi, Jim Fetterley, Alex UF, Huntrezz, Chelly Jin, Isabella Lee, Parag K. Mital, Laya, So Sun Park, Casey Reas, Boaz Sender, Yasaman Sheri, Antigoni Tsagkaropoulou, Sammie Veeler, Xin Xin, Kim Ye, Qianqian Ye
Exhibition design: Salmah Beydoun
Exhibition fabrication: Ryan Lewis
Lighting fabrication: Ariel Uzal
Creative production: Daniel Soto
Production and studio assistance: Lela Barclay De Tolly, Chelly Jin, Wylie Kasai, Karina Lopez, Sagan Yee
Production support from UCLA Social Software
Design: IN-FO.CO
Spanish translation: Tatiana Lipkes
Assistant preparators: Adrian-Dre Diaz, Andrea Luna, Millie Root
Gallery guides: Jordan Cathcart, Lynelle Collo, Emily Fonseca, Eva Intoci, Nicole Karolak, Stephania Torres-Londono
Communications and events production assistant: Christin Bailey

With support from Creative Capital, United States Artists, Stanford Human-Centered AI, Sundance Institute, MacDowell, Pioneer Works, Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, and UCLA.

Photography by Adrian-Dre Diaz, Millie Root, and Pablo Mason.