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New Profile: Statement / Biography

I am a performance artist, designer, activist, researcher and educator who works nowadays with the Counter Narrative Society to transform the weight I carry from witnessing the invisible punishing machine.


I was born in Chile and about 20 years ago I made the USA my home (in the Bay area of San Francisco). In 2007, I founded the Counter Narrative Society (CNS), a research unit that works to initiate counter narratives about bio-power, urbanism, culture and technology. In 2009, I joined the MIT program in Art, Culture and Technology and under the CNS started to ask the question, what is mass punishment? In the process of tinkering with ideas, traveling and learning about practices and theories of social control, statehood, criminology and the habitus, I discovered that I was looking at the invisible punishing machine.

The invisible punishing machine is an idiomatic, science fiction-esque research concentration that I designed in order to examine aesthetically, morally, emotionally, and historically the underlying illegible social, spatial and technological causes that produce inequality and invisible punishment – a consequence of mass imprisonment, political persecution of individuals, the prison-welfare system, urbanization, neoliberal policies, and social-urban control in the USA.

From this perspective, I now make art as a method to convey philosophical and poetic concerns congruent to my activities as an artist-researcher and activist. I am exploring this practice through the counter narrative method I call Paradoxical Remedies which symbolically uses the idea of poisonous treatments. On the one hand this method playfully counteracts undesirable and traumatic conditions by creating sometimes difficult emotional, anomalous situations; on the other hand, this analytic method opens new possibilities for healing, socializing and communicating meaningful bio-political issues, which in the appropriate social and spatial conditions I produce and design radical live actions, performances, multimedia installations, tactical objects and multifaceted projects for artistic research, activism, personal therapy and radical pedagogy.

To see my most current long-term project …when the invisible punishing machine is everywhere…The Weight I Carry with Me.

I am also a recipient of several recognitions including MIT Presidential Award 2009-2010 and MIT Architecture Department Fellowship 2009-2011, Zellerbach Family Foundation & W.A. Gerbode Foundation 2006, and Osher Memorial Merit Scholarship – San Francisco Art Institute 2003-2006. My work has been presented in a variety of public spaces and cultural institutions: Boston City Hall, MA; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MA; Art of this Gallery, MI; De Young Museum, CA, The Intersection for the Arts, CA; Galleria de la Raza, CA; Primo Piano Living Gallery, Lecce Italy; New College of California, CA; San Francisco World Affairs Counsel, SF; and University of San Francisco, CA.

[I live and work in the USA between San Francisco CA and Philadelphia PA.]


CV / Artistic / Teaching PDF


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): SMACT – Master of Science in Art, Culture and Technology, 2012
San Francisco Art Institute: BFA – Interdisciplinary Arts: Installation Art, Digital Media, Education and Public Art, 2006
City College of San Francisco: Fine Arts and Education, 2002
Foothill College: Courses in Design, Photography, Art History and English, 1995-1996
Universidad de Chile – Playa Ancha: Courses in Methodology, Art History and Painting, 1993-1994


Follow this at the Counter Narrative Society

When the Invisible Punishing Machine is everywhere…

JOURNEY TO REFUGE, (Durational – Multimedia/Performance/Installation/Fieldwork/Research)
Philadelphia, PA; San Francisco, CA 04.2012-Present
The Weight I Carry with Me: (Durational – Multimedia/Performance/Installation/Fieldwork/Research)
Cambridge, MA; Fort Bragg, CA; San Francisco, CA; Philadelphia, PA. Started 10.2010-Present
+ Thesis Book: When the Invisible Punishing Machine is everywhere: How Mechanism of Social Control (mass incarceration, institutional racism, slavery and repression) in the USA shapes the Individual as well as the Social Space | MIT ACT, Cambridge, MA February 2012
+ I thought I’ve Seen Humans, National Park Services – Alcatraz Island (Former Federal Prison), San Francisco CA – Sept-Oct.2011
+ Thesis Project: The Weight I Carry with me, MIT ACT, Cambridge MA 05.18.2011
+ Rehearsals for Future Actions, Boston City Hall, Boston MA 03.112011
+ One-on-One Conversations with the Weight I Carry with me, Fort Bragg CA – Dec.2010-Jan.2011


Racial Pre_Filing Vest, (Seminar/Intervention/Tactical Media Performance)
RECESS 2: Cultivating Urban Agency – Art of This gallery, Minneapolis, MN 06.30.2010
The Blues Calling (series), (Participatory Action/Workshop)
MIT Program of Art, Culture and Technology, Cambridge, MA 03-05.18.2010
Glaciers Under Our Skin, (Participatory Action/Workshop/Intervention/Video)
MIT Program of Art, Culture and Technology, Cambridge, MA 05.04.2010
Unequal State of Amnesty, (Instructional & Performance Video), 05.2010
Warehoused for 15 Year to Life, (Billboard) – Galeria de la Raza, SF CA 02.2010
Passing the Ball: Wounded Witnesses Wounded Storytellers, (Multifaceted Project)
Cambridge, MA /San Francisco, CA Oct-Dec.2009
Conundrum of an Artist and Researcher, Oda to Foucault, (Performance Video) 10.2009
(SHU) Sensible Housing Unit: AIR, (Participatory Action/Performance)
Mission Cultural Center for the Latino Arts, SF CA 05.21.2009
Restless Sleep, (Performance Video) 05.2008
Wear Orange for a Day, (Annual Public Participatory Action)
Plain Human and Intersection for the Arts, CA, MA and TX 03.2008-Present
247365, (Performance Video) 01.2008
Hunting the Now, (Public Treasure Hunt)
Southern Exposure, San Francisco, CA 12.2007-Present
The Inmate, (Public Intervention & Performance Video)
San Francisco, CA 01.2007



THIS IS WHAT I WANT performance festival 2012, San Francisco, 06.2012
Alcatraz Symposium on Justice and Freedom
We Players and National Park Service, San Francisco, CA 10.2011
Micromanagement, Performance Art Institute, San Francisco, CA 10.2011
MIT ACT – Master Thesis. Cambridge, MA 05.18.2011
Home for the Holidays
, Lost Coast Cultural Machine, CA 12.2010-01.2011
RECESS 2: Cultivating Urban Agency, Art of This gallery, Minneapolis, MN 06.30.2010
Toronto Free Broadcasting, Toronto Free Gallery, Canada 08.2009
Future Landscapes Designed by Women, MCCLA, SF CA 02.2009
Strange Hope, Galeria de la Raza, SF CA 02.2009
The Prison Project, Intersection for the Arts, SF CA 02.2008
Grounded? Southern Exposure, SF CA 12.2007
Humane Slaughter Acts Performance Festival, SlaughterhouseSpace, Healdsburg CA 11.03.2007
Hidden Histories, HYPER.SEA [Hyper Socially Engaged Arts], SF CA 09.2007
Stages of Culture, South of Market Arts [somarts], SF CA 08.2007
Il Gardino Secreto, Living Gallery, Lecce – Italy 03.2007
Illusion V: Beyond Our Block, Kimball Gallery, De Young Museum, SF CA 09.2006
Illusion IV: The Conquest, Mission Cultural Center for the Latino Arts, SF CA 06.2006
Paradigms Lost, Galeria de la Raza, SF CA 10.2004 – 03.2005
Borderland Film/Art Festival, Galeria de la Raza, SF CA 12.2004
Unfurled, Pond Gallery, SF CA 11.2004
Export Art, San Francisco World Affairs Counsel, SF CA 11.2003
Two 9/11 In A Lifetime, New College of California, SF CA 09.2003
Secrets Of Ordinary Things, McBean Gallery, San Francisco Art Institute, SF CA 03.2003
Drawing Resistance [] 2001-2005



MIT – Presidential Award, 2009-201o
MIT – Department of Architecture Award, 2009-2011
Community Art Grants by Zellerbach Family Foundation & W.A. Gerbode Foundation, 2006
Osher Memorial Merit Scholarship – San Francisco Art Institute, 2003-2006
Americorp Educational Award, 2001
John D. Anderson Scholarship, 2001
Bay Area Chilean Center Scholarship, 1995
Summer Scholarship Program – Academy of Arts, 1991



When the Invisible Punishing Machine is everywhere. THE WEIGHT I CARRY WITH ME, MIT Program of Art, Culture and Technology, Cambridge, MA 05.18.2011
Sit-in To Decipher an Illegible Punishment,
MIT Program of Art, Culture and Technology, Cambridge, MA 03.14.2011
When Life and Art are Too Real…
MIT Program of Art, Culture and Technology, Cambridge, MA 03.18.2009
The Blues Calling
, MIT Program of Art, Culture and Technology, Cambridge, MA 03.18.2009
Passing the Ball: Wounded Witnesses Wounded Storytellers, MIT Program of Art, Culture and Technology, Cambridge, MA 12.16.2009
Artist Talk with Migdalia Valdes and Mabel Negrete, Intersections for the Arts, SF CA 05.23.09
Wear Orange for a Day project, Intersection for the Art’s Open Process series, 10.3.2007



Member, Human Rights Coalition (HRC) ( 6.2012-Present
, Decarcerate PA ( 6.2012-Present
Co-founding Member, Plain Human 2007-Present
Curatorial Board Member, Mission Community Council: Plaza 16 Project 2006-2007
Co-founder and Director, Hypersea 2005-Present
Curatorial Board, Anti-Advertising Agency 2005
Member, Borderland Collective 2004-2005
Co-founder, SAW – Street Art Workers 2003
Co-founding Member, Brass Liberation Orchestra 2002-2005
Member, San Francisco Print Collective 2000-2005
Member, Prison Activist Resource Center 1998-2001



Badger, Gina. Ed. FUSE Magazine: ABOLITION, 35-3 Summer 2012 Printed in Canada in Indigenous Land pgs. 1-2; 10; 24 & 34-35
Tan, Pelin. Ed. Muhtelif | Contemporary Art Publication. Issue 6 Winter 2012. Istanbul, Turkey
Intersection for the Arts & San Francisco State University.  Prison/Culture, exhibition book. San Francisco. CA 2010 SFWeekly
Patricia Rodrigruez. Curator. Future Landscapes Designed by Women, exhibition catalog. San Francisco. CA 2009
Le Duc, Aimee. Journal of Aesthetics and Protest: (de)Appropriation Project, Bruce Tomb and the Valencia Street Wall, Issue #6 – SF, CA 2008
Dores Sacquegna. Curator. Il Gardino Secreto. exhibition catalog. Lecce, Italy. 2007
Klein, Susan, Suellen Miller and Fiona Thomson, Eds. A Book for Midwives: Care for Pregnancy, Birth and Women’s Health. First Edition: December 2004 pgs. 78, 179, 180, and 341. Berkeley: The Hesperian Foundation, CA 2004
Gomez Barris, Macarena. Ed. Two 9/11’s in a Lifetime: A Project and Exhibition on the Politics of Memory. San Francisco, CA. 2003
Rodgers, Christy, Ed. What If? Journal of Radical Possibilities. Vol. II, August 2002 pg. 82. San Francisco CA 2002
Jaffe, Clella ILes, Ed. Public Speaking: Concepts and Skills for a Diverse Society. Canada: Thomson Learning, Inc. 2001



Prison Photography. Book Review: Prison/Culture. May 5 2010
Swanhuyser, Hiya. SF Weekly: Monsters, Inc. April 28 2010
B.A.N.G Lab. MIT ACT: Letter of Support for UCSD Prof. Dominguez. April, 2010
Roberts, Adrienne. SFMOMA | Open Space: Home is a Four letter word. 8.14.2009
Whiteside, Amber. San Francisco Bay Guardian: Unchain my art, Wednesday March 19, 2008
Swanhuyser, Hiya. SF Weekly: Insider Art, March 19, 2008
Torr, Jolene. Juxtapoz, Art and Culture Magazine: The Prison Project, Friday, 22 February 2008
Zassenhaus, Eric. KQED, Arts & Culture: Hidden Histories, September 14, 2007
Swanhuyser, Hiya. SF Weekly: Map Quest, September 12, 2007
Caiati, Vito. Bari Sera: Il Giardino Segrete in cui fiorisce l’arte, Tuesday, March 27, 2007
De Fillippi, Franceca. Exibart: Il Giardino Secreto, March 26, 2007
Ricci, di Daria. Cittå Magazine: “Il Giardino Segreto” ed è successo, March 22, 2007
Swanhuyser, Hiya. SF Weekly: The Walls Are Alive, March 1-7, 2006 pg. 23
Repodmon. Independent Media Center: The Borderland Interventions Have Already Begun Bay Area: December 2, 2004
Slaton, Joyce. SF Weekly: They Walk the Line, December 1-7, 2004 pg. 24
Crouse, Edward. San Francisco Metropolitan: Watch Out! December 6, 1999 pg. 14

Artist Statement submitted to MIT-ACT (former VAP)

Fabulous MakeoversSensible Housing Unit


As a multidisciplinary artist, I work with an urgency to create socially engaged art. This need was born from a seminal and devastating event in my life: In 1995 my brother was sentenced to life in prison. Beyond the familial tragedy and personal commitment to biweekly visits to a maximum-security facility, I became deeply involved in prison abolition education and volunteered at the Prison Activist Resource Center. I began to imagine creating art that could change society and was encouraged by the prison activists to actualize these ideas. From this supposition, I created my first multidisciplinary art event, which attracted artists, activists and scholars committed to dissecting the prison industrial complex. Since then, I have been preoccupied with the idea that relational experiences can connect us to a reality beyond our immediate existence. With a necessity to communicate—both in the literal and abstract sense—I strive to create meaningful situations that can be conveyed through tactical objects, participatory processes and real-time actions.

For the past years, I have produced a series of works by creating “tactical situations” that explore social issues about  migration, gentrificationincarceration and race. These situations have meant to deliver similar experiences to play, chance, plot, role-play, and social networking. Much of this work has been done in collaboration with friends, audiences and colleagues. Participants and creators become involved in temporary illusions that appear to be literal, critical and conceptual. For example, “Hunting the Now” is a game (17” x 11” inches offset double-sided print), I created in collaboration with art therapist Fiona Glass and radical historian Chris Carlson, under the alias The Counter Narrative Society. The piece was a bilingual treasure hunt that humorously engaged artists and audiences to reflect on the fading history of two parallel streets impacted by gentrification and migration. As we distributed the game containing 15 destinations, participants were given a disposable camera to capture their own impressions. A participant from the game wrote in her blog: “When we took pictures of the future condominiums that will stand on Mission and 18th, we tried to capture the way the bare pipes and scaffolding made the construction site look like a prison.”

Heavily influenced by anti-art, conceptual art and anti-oppression movements, the general goal of my art making is to develop systems of critical social engagement and real-time actions to address ethical-social dilemmas. Here are two theoretical art contexts I enjoy exploring and will be further investigating in my graduate work at MIT’s Visual Arts Program (VAP):

The first is to develop projects that function as the “Critical Artist” in the development of “Inter-Human Aesthetics” – an idea that is deeply influenced by Joseph Beuys, Ligia Clark, Guillermo Gomez-Peña and Nicolas Bourriaud who have coined the following concepts: 1) The artist’s role as a social engineer in the production of “social-sculptures”; 2) The object as visual device which “dissolves into an awareness of the body”; 3) The body as a site in lieu of “border-crossing”; 4) The methods for social engagements as “relational aesthetics”.

With the second context I investigate the inter-human relations and real time actions as a “make – believe world”. Catherine Bates’ distinctions between how the Theorist of Play differs from the playwright in their intention to create “man-made illusions of the play-world” are essential in creating these works. To Bates, the theorist of play is so conscious of the implications of her actions that she finds herself “discovering that everything – including [her] own claim to credibility – is a game.” The playwright, on the contrary, “fashions plots, constructs myths, and lures players, readers and spectators into a world that neither conceals its illusoriness nor seek to propose that there is anything behind or beyond.” In this sense, I see my work and my body functioning both as the theorist of play and the playwright in the construction of tactical situations.

Working from these frameworks, I originate situations as systems that have taken the shape of:

•    Objects and Designs as functional tools for tactical expression
•    The whole-body as performers, altered identities and game players
•    Installations and Public Interventions as spaces for social engagement

Changing society takes more than one person’s desire and effort, likewise it requires a great deal of public participation to create tactical situations that address specific social issues. Yet, these works when properly deployed, may be transformative to individuals, whose actions might otherwise be eclipsed by group actions.

Mabel Negrete © 2009 – [With editing contributions by: Mark Almanza, Lauren Elder and Ann Schnake]