Jess Dobkin

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Jess Dobkin
Jess Dobkin, Lactation Station promotional photo
Jess Dobkin, Lactation Station promotional photo
Alma materOberlin College, Rutgers University
Known forperformance artist
Notable workLactation Station Breast Milk Bar (2006)
MovementFeminism, Queer, LGBT

Jess Dobkin (born 1970) is a performance artist based in Toronto, Canada.[1] She is best known for her 2006 work The Lactation Station.

She has a B.A. in Women’s Studies from Oberlin College, and an M.F.A. in Performance Art from Rutgers University. She is a Fellow at the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto.


Dobkin first emerged as a performance artist in 2002.[1] Her work draws on her experience as a lesbian and a mother.[2] Her body often figures prominently in her performances. For example, Fee for Service (2006), was a performance installation where audience members were invited to sharpen a pencil in Dobkin's vagina.[3]

Dobkin is also known as a community organizer and often combines this with her creative work. In May 2015, after a successful crowdfunding campaign, she collaborated with many Toronto artists to create an alternative newsstand in a vacant kiosk at the Chester Subway Station in Toronto for one year. Meant as a "creative exchange" for commuters, the kiosk acted as a space for artists' exhibition and performance, while it still functioned as a newsstand selling newspapers, magazines, and snacks for a "monetary exchange."[4]

Dobkin has collaborated with other performance artists, including Martha Wilson, founder of the Franklin Furnace Archive.

Dobkin was a frequent performer at Montreal's Edgy Women feminist performance festival between the years 2004 and 2010.[5]

Major exhibitions[edit]

In 2006, Dobkin exhibited The Lactation Station in Toronto at the Ontario College of Art and Design's Professional Gallery, curated by Paul Couillard of FADO.[6] In this exhibition, Dobkin invited audience members to sample human breast milk. The exhibition, which was partly funded by the Canada Council for the Arts,[4] gained widespread attention and prompted Health Canada to issue a national warning against the online sale of human breast milk.[7] It was remounted in 2012 as part of Montreal's OFFTA Festival in co-presentation with Studio 303 at Usine C.[8][9]

In 2009, Dobkin performed "Being Green," a video work in which she sings "Being Green" while dressed as Kermit the Frog and being fisted by another actor dressed as Jim Henson.

In 2015, Dobkin created How Many Performance Artists Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb (For Martha Wilson) and performed it at Enoch Turner Schoolhouse in Toronto as part of Images Festival. The work was a response and an ode to one of America’s foremost groundbreaking performance artists, Martha Wilson, offering reflections and humorous observations on the way we see. Dobkin's work was inspired by Martha Wilson’s 2005 video titled A History of Performance Art According to Me. The piece examined the history of performance art by defining its terms and conditions and acknowledging the history and inherent qualities of performance. It had multiple co-presenters, including the University of Toronto, York University, OCAD University, FADO Performance Art Centre, and the Toronto-Dominion Bank.[10]


  • MONOMYTHS, 2017
  • The Magic Hour, 2016
  • The Artist-Run Newsstand, 2015 - 2016
  • How Many Performance Artists Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb (For Martha Wilson), 2015
  • The Performance Art Army, 2014
  • Acting/Performing/Audience, 2014 (co-directed with Shannon Cochrane)
  • Performance Artist for Hire, 2013
  • Free Childcare Provided, 2013
  • Affirmations for Artists, 2012
  • Bleeding at the Ball, 2011
  • Everything I've Got, 2010
  • Being Green, 2009
  • Mirror Ball, 2008-2009
  • Clown Car, 2008
  • The Lactation Station, 2006-2012
  • Fee for Service, 2006
  • Emergency Exits, 2006
  • Restored, 2004
  • Attending, 2003-2005
  • The Two Boobs, 2003
  • Composite Body, 2003
  • The Mad Chef, 2000-2003
  • Six Degrees of Lesbian Nation, 2003
  • Magic Trick, 2003
  • An Ontario Bride Seeks American Wives, 2003
  • Talk to Me, 2001

Personal life[edit]

Dobkin is Jewish[11] a lesbian, and a mother.[12]


  1. ^ a b Gillespie, Benjamin (Winter 2012). "Giving us 'Everything She's Got': Processing the Script-as-Archive in Jess Dobkin's Queer Performance Art". Canadian Theatre Review. 149: 52.
  2. ^ Reeve, Charles (2012). Rachel Epp Buller (ed.). Reconciling Art and Mothering. Farnham: Ashgate. pp. 125–136. ISBN 978-1-4094-2613-4.
  3. ^ Krpan, Pike (2009). "Body of Work". Shameless. Winter: 30.
  4. ^ a b Clarke, Katrina (20 May 2015). "Artists take over Chester subway station newsstand for one year". The Star. Toronto Star. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  5. ^ "Archives / Edgy Women". Studio 303. Retrieved 2022-07-19.
  6. ^ Rogerson, Stephanie (July 20, 2006). "Sense and sensibilities: FADO performance gives new meaning to the term "good taste"". No. 71. NOW Magazine.
  7. ^ Weeks, Carly (July 13, 2006). "Human milk sold online carries HIV risk: warning". The Ottawa Citizen.
  8. ^ Loveless, Natalie (2019-07-02), Robinson, Hilary; Buszek, Maria Elena (eds.), "Maternal Mattering: The Performance and Politics of the Maternal in Contemporary Art", A Companion to Feminist Art (1 ed.), Wiley, pp. 475–491, doi:10.1002/9781118929179.ch27, ISBN 978-1-118-92915-5, S2CID 203048662, retrieved 2022-07-19
  9. ^ Chan, Crystal (23 May 2012). "Breast milk's on tap at the OFFTA with Jess Dobkin's Lactation Station". Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  10. ^ "Images Festival". Archived from the original on 5 March 2017. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  11. ^ "StackPath". 5 July 2006. Retrieved 2021-10-07.
  12. ^ Fuhrmann, Mike (June 15, 2006). "Performance artist offers breast milk tastings". Toronto Star.

External links[edit]