Haem is a mixed media installation including compass apparatus, custom made glass bowl, vinyl letters, sound composition, HD Video, concrete, water, 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 compass needle that points to the north, is presented as a guide floating amidst in a slowly rotating glass bowl, inspired by the labyrinth of nourishing vessels within the placenta. 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 by artist Cecilia Jonsson in collaboration with Dr. Rodrigo Leite de Oliveira of 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 René Bernards laboratory at NKI, the department of gynecology and obstetrics at OLVG West 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.