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Jenna Sutela, Stellar Nursery, 2022, synthetic human breast milk, electric breast pumps, acrylic column with light, sound, 220 x 30 cm, © the artist, co-produced with Schering Stiftung and Haus der Kunst, Munich
Photo: Joseph Kadow © Jenna Sutela

 

Jenna Sutela: Stellar Nursery

Location: Berlin, Germany

Dates: 14 September – 27 November 2022

Curator: n/a

On September 14, 2022, the first Berlin solo exhibition by the Finnish artist Jenna Sutela will open at the Schering Stiftung. Stellar Nursery brings together a new installation titled “HMO Nutrix” (2022) and the artist’s latest filmic work, “Milky Ways” (2022). Both works deal with a bodily product that has amazing superpowers: human milk. In her research-based works, Sutela explores both the symbiosis of humans and microorganisms and the efforts of the food industry to biotechnologically reproduce the ingredients of breast milk and market them as part of a new generation of health-optimizing dietary supplements.

At the “HMO Nutrix,” synthetically produced human milk is staged as a bubbling fountain.
The bubbles are generated by breast pumps stirring up liquids while the installation is animated by biomimetic throat singing. The solution is enriched with substances that researchers have identified as key ingredients of breast milk. While so-called human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are known to be indigestible by infants, they feed their gut bacteria: they not only protect newborns against diseases but also promote their cognitive development and are essential for building their microbiomes. In her poetically narrated film “Milky Ways,” Sutela combines the latest scientific insights with the myth of the creation of the Milky Way from the squirting breast milk of the goddess Hera. While the Greek goddess is creating the galaxy, breast milk is helping create a microbial universe inside the child’s body.

The exhibition, which will be on display at the Schering Stiftung’s exhibition space from September 15 until November 27, 2022, is supported by Primer, Copenhagen, and Haus der Kunst, Munich. The exhibition is held in collaboration with Screen City Biennial, which also opens in the fall.

Jenna Sutela (b. 1983, Turku, Finland) works with living organisms such as bacteria and slime mold as well as with sound and language. In her audiovisual works, sculptures, and performances, the artist creates connections between biological entities and technologies. Her particular interest is in the productive interaction between human and non-human organisms. In her work “nimiia cétii,” for example, she created a novel written language whose machine-generated characters are based on capturing and copying the movements of Bacillus subtilis nattō. In 2019/20, Sutela was a visiting artist at the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology. Sutela’s works have been shown at Castello di Rivoli (2022), Liverpool Biennial (2021), Kunsthall Trondheim (2020), ZKM Karlsruhe (2020), Serpentine Galleries (2019), Kiasma, Helsinki (2017), and others.

The Schering Stiftung was established in 2002 to promote science and culture, with a concentration on the life sciences and contemporary art. A particular focus is on projects in liminal spaces, notably at the interface of science and art. Alongside its operating activities, the Schering Stiftung also supports scientific and cultural education projects for children and youth.

Ernst Schering Foundation

 

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