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Jenna Sutela: Holobiont

HD video, sound, 10’27”

Holobiont considers the idea of embodied cognition on a planetary scale, featuring a zoom from outer space to inside the gut. It documents Planetary Protection rituals at the European Space Agency and explores extremophilic bacteria in fermented foods as possible distributors of life between the stars. Bacillus subtilis, the nattō bacterium, plays a leading role. The term ‘holobiont’ stands for an entity made of many species, all inseparably linked in their ecology and evolution. The work has been supported by Kone Foundation and expands on a performance created for Serpentine Marathon 2017.

Featuring: Tarren Johnson, Nile Koetting, Ming Lin, and Colin Self
Planetary Protection: Gerhard Kminekand Life, Physical Sciences and LifeSupport Laboratory at the European Space Agency
Ferments: Markus Shimizu

Camera and Video Editing: Mikko Gaestel
Sound Editing: Martti Kalliala
Recording: Ville Haimala, AdamLaschinger, and Gold Mountain

Supported by Kone Foundation and expanding on a performance for Serpentine Marathon 2017. Thank you Ella Plevin and Elvia Wilk.


Jenna Sutela (b. 1983) works with words, sounds, and other living media, such as Bacillus subtilis nattō bacteria and the “many-headed” slime mold Physarum polycephalum. Her audiovisual pieces, sculptures, and performances seek to identify and react to precarious social and material moments, often in relation to technology. Sutela’s work has been presented at museums and art contexts internationally, including Guggenheim Bilbao, Moderna Museet, and Serpentine Galleries. She is a Visiting Artist at The MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) in 2019-20.