On 14 September 2022, the first Berlin solo exhibition by Finnish artist Jenna Sutela opens at the Ernst Schering Foundation. Stellar Nursery brings together a new installation entitled “HMO Nutrix” (2022) and the artist’s most recent film work, “Milky Ways” (2022). Both works deal with an endogenous product that has amazing superpowers: It’s human milk. In her research-based works, Sutela discusses on the one hand the symbiosis of humans and microorganisms and on the other hand refers to the efforts of the food industry to biotechnologically copy the ingredients of breast milk and market it as part of a new generation of optimising food supplements.
Image above: Jenna Sutela, Stellar Nursery, 2022, synthetische menschliche Muttermilch, elektrische Milchpumpen, Acrylsäule mit Licht und Ton, 220 x 30 cm, © die Künstlerin, ko-produziert mit der Schering Stiftung und Haus der Kunst, München
Photo: Joseph Kadow © Jenna Sutela
In “HMO Nutrix”, synthetically produced human milk is staged as a bubbling “fountain”. The bubbling is created with the help of milk pumps that swirl up the liquid, while a biomimetic laryngeal song animates the installation. The solution is enriched with substances that research has identified as the most important components of breast milk. So-called human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), although demonstrably not digestible by the infant, feed its gut bacteria. In this way, they not only protect the newborn from diseases, but also promote its cognitive development and decisively build up its microbiome. Sutela uses the latest scientific findings to link them in the film “Milky Ways” in a poetic narrative with the myth of the formation of the Milky Way through the splashing breast milk of the goddess Hera. While the Greek goddess creates the galaxy, a microbial universe is created in the body of a child with the help of breast milk.
The exhibition, which will be on view in the exhibition space of the Ernst Schering Foundation from 15 September to 27 November, is produced with the support of Primer, Copenhagen and the Haus der Kunst, Munich. The exhibition takes place in collaboration with the Screen City Biennial, which will also open in autumn.
Jenna Sutela (*1983, Turku, Finland) works with living organisms such as bacteria and slime moulds as well as with sound and language. In her audiovisual works, sculptures and performances, the artist establishes connections between biological entities and technologies. She is particularly interested in the productive interaction of human and non-human organisms. In the work “nimiia cétii”, for example, she created a new written language whose technically generated characters were based on capturing and tracing the movements of the Bacillus subtilis nattō. From 2019 to 2020, Sutela was a visiting artist at the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology. Sutela’s work has been presented at Castello di Rivoli (2022), Liverpool Biennale (2021), Kunsthalle Trondheim (2020), ZKM, Karlsruhe (2020), Serpentine Galleries (2019), Kiasma, Helsinki (2017), among others.
The Ernst Schering Foundation was established in 2002 to promote science and culture with a focus on the life sciences and contemporary art.
culture with a focus on the life sciences and contemporary art. A particular focus is on projects in borderline areas, especially at the interface of science and art. In addition to its operative foundation work, the Ernst Schering Foundation promotes scientific and cultural education projects for children and young people.
Dates: 15. September–27. November 2022
Vernissage: 14. September 2022, 6–10 pm
Thursday and Friday 1-7 pm
Saturday and Sunday 11 am – 7 pm
Schering Stiftung, Unter den Linden 32–34, 10117 Berlin-Mitte