Mixed media installation including compass apparatus, custom made glass bowl, vinyl letters, sound composition, HD Video, water, concrete, electronics

The physical basis of Haem is iron derived from an unexpected source – the human placenta. Although this transitional organ possesses a complex labyrinth of blood vessels, the placenta provides a direct connection between mother and developing child. Iron, plentiful throughout the process of exchange, plays an essential role, moving through this “maze”, guiding oxygen from the mother to the fetus.

To symbolize this directed movement, a compass needle made out of metallic iron derived from donated human placentas was created. This object concentrates the labor of dozens of births, of thousands of hours of fluid exchange, at the earliest meeting point between new and existing life. The magnetised needle that aligns itself to the North, is presented floating as a guide that moves in a counter clockwise direction, in the centre of a rotating glass bowl, inspired by microscopic imaging of the placenta labyrinth region. By combining expertise in the fields of art, life sciences and metallurgy, Haem reflects on the transformation of maternal resources into valuable personal processes, and on their power to direct us throughout life in the decisions we make, and directions we take, ultimately shaping who we are and the world we live in.

Haem was developed in close collaboration with Dr. Rodrigo Leite de Oliveira at The Netherlands Cancer Institute. Commissioned by Bio Art & Design Awards with the support of ZonMw (The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development). In cooperation with the department of gynecology and obstetrics at OLVG West hospital in Amsterdam and blacksmith Thijs Van der Manakker. Special thanks to all the Mothers, Fathers and Babies who contributed to the realization of Haem. The Haem installation is accompanied by a sound composition by Marcello Sodano and a HD Video by Signe Tørå Karsrud and Sergio Cuervo Gonzalez, sound. Haem received an Honorary Mention in the Category of Hybrid Art of the Prix Ars Electronica 2017.

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HD Video teaser 3min