HAEM Cecilia Jonsson

mixed media installation including custom-made compass, murrini glass-bowl, text, sound, HD- video, water, electronics None Photo: Aad Hoogendoorn

The principal basis of Haem is iron derived from an unexpected source: the human placenta. This organ possesses a complex labyrinth of blood vessels that directly connect the mother and the developing child. A component of iron, Haem is plentiful throughout this process of exchange and plays an essential role, by moving through this ‘maze’, to guide oxygen to the growing foetus.

To simulate this directed movement, the artist created a compass out of metallic iron extracted from the blood contained in discarded postpartum human placentas. This object concentrates the labour 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 unconventionally shows the fundamental interconnections between elements of the earth and the human body.

The installation consists of the compass needle presented as a guidance tool floating in the middle of a rotating glass bowl inspired by microscopic imagery of cells of the placenta. Accompanying the installation is a sound composition and partial archive, consisting of a register of the 69 donated placentas’ weight and date of birth and a video that explains the project’s making process.

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