Sheree Rose [Edit]

Sheree Rose (born 1941) is an American photographer and performance artist. She is best known for her collaborative work with performance artist Bob Flanagan, who was also her romantic partner, and her photography documenting a wide range of Los Angeles subcultures, especially in relation to BDSM and body modification.


Rose met Bob Flanagan in 1980, and collaborated closely with him for the rest of his life (he died in 1996). They were also romantic partners. Through the 1980s, Flanagan and Rose focused on BDSM community education and organizing, including being founding members of the Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Janus. Their work in performance art began with the 1989 piece Nailed, presented in conjunction with the release of the book Modern Primitives; the book featured (among others) Fakir Musafar. In Nailed, Flanagan nailed his penis and scrotum to a board while singing “If I Had a Hammer.” Rose photographed the performance artist Genesis P-Orridge for the book Modern Primitives.

Flanagan and Rose’s work Visiting Hours, first shown at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in 1992, combined text, video, and live performance, and explored the convergence of illness and SM (SM means sadism and masochism). It was Rose and Flanagan’s most widely toured museum exhibition. In the center of the gallery, Flanagan lay in a hospital bed and interacted with museum visitors for the duration of the exhibit. According to curator Laura Trippi, “The installation is designed like a crazy stage set of a children’s residential hospital, replete with a torture chamber lurking amidst the institutional cheer.”

Rose had a small role in Godflesh’s “Crush My Soul” music video in 1995, in which Flanagan appeared as an upside-down suspended Christ, hoisted on to the ceiling of a church by Rose.

Flanagan died from complications of cystic fibrosis in 1996. Although the final years of Flanagan’s life, including his death, are the subject of the 1997 Kirby Dick documentary SICK: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist, the film also documents Rose and Flanagan’s life together. Rose and Flanagan’s collected archives are maintained at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California Libraries.

From 2011, Rose has worked collaboratively with British performance artist Martin O’Brien, continuing to explore themes of BDSM.

Selected art works 

  • A Matter of Choice, by Bob Flanagan in collaboration with Sheree Rose, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, July 1992
  • Visiting Hours: An Installation by Bob Flanagan in collaboration with Sheree Rose, Santa Monica Museum of Art and the New Museum, 1994