Haem Cecilia Jonsson 2016
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 this process of exchange, plays an essential role, moving through this “maze”, guiding oxygen from the mother to the fetus.
To symbolise this directed movement a compass needle made out of metallic iron derived from the blood contained in discarded, postpartum 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. By bridging the fields of art, life sciences and metallurgy, the work shows in an unconventional way the fundamental interconnections between elements of the earth and the human body.
The 'Haem' installation consists of the compass needle, presented as a guidance tool floating in the midst of a rotating glass bowl inspired by histological imagery of the placenta. Accompanying the installation is a sound composition and a selective archive about the process, shown as a register of the 69 donated placentas weight and date of birth and a HD–video.
Developed in collaboration with Dr. Rodrigo Leite de Oliveira of The Netherlands Cancer lnstitute. Commissioned by Bio Art & Design Awards 2016 with the support of ZonMw. In cooperation with OLVG West hospital and blacksmith Thijs Van der Manakker. HD–video by Signe Tørå Karsrud and Sergio Cuervo Gonzalez and sound composition by Marcello Sodano.