Artist Jenna Sutela and Kunsthall Trondheim director Stefanie Hessler discuss the ideas explored in a new publication about Sutela’s work.
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Published on the occasion of Jenna Sutela’s exhibition at Kunsthall Trondheim, Jenna Sutela – NO NO NSE NSE looks at meaning and randomness in the artist’s wetware-powered work. The focus is on her latest work I Magma, exploring the notion of an oracle through alternative forms of intelligence and the application of machinic and chemical processes.
NO NO NSE NSE includes contributions by Lars Bang Larsen, Stefanie Hessler, Caroline A. Jones, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Allison Parrish, Lars TCF Holdhus, and Ben Vickers. It is designed by NODE Berlin Oslo and co-published by Kunsthall Trondheim, Serpentine Galleries, and Koenig Books. Thanks to Finsk-Norsk Kulturinstitutt, Kulturrådet, and Oslo Kunstforening.
On the occasion of the catalogue’s release, we have published one of the texts. Read Allison Parrish’s essay on writing under machine intelligence here.
Jenna Sutela 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 internationally, including at Guggenheim Bilbao, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. She is a Visiting Artist at The MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) in 2019-20.
Stefanie Hessler is a curator, writer, and editor. Her work focuses on interdisciplinary systems from an intersectional feminist perspective, with an emphasis on the ocean and other ecologies, as well as on expanded definitions of life and non-life, nonhumans, and technology. She is the director of Kunsthall Trondheim in Norway since 2019, where her first two exhibitions were with Jenna Sutela and Geocinema. She is project co-leader (with Katja Aglert) for “Seeding Arts and Environmental Humanities”, a large-scale transdisciplinary research project within the Seed Box framework at Linköping University, Sweden, within which she is working towards an exhibition, publication, and conference at Kunsthall Trondheim. Between 2020–22 Hessler is visiting research scholar at the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media at Westminster University in London, UK. She is curator of the 17th MOMENTA | Biennale de l’image, titled “Sensing Nature” in Montreal, Canada (upcoming September 2021).
Recent curatorial projects include “Down to Earth” (with Thomas Oberender, Tino Sehgal, Joulia Strauss, Frédérique Aït-Touati, and others, upcoming August 2020) for the Berliner Festspiele at Gropius Bau in Berlin, Germany; “Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Tomás Saraceno: More-than-humans” at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, Spain (2019); “Joan Jonas: Moving Off the Land II” at Ocean Space in Venice, Italy (2019); the 6th Athens Biennale “ANTI”, Greece (2018); the symposium “Practices of Attention” at the 33rd Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (with D. Graham Burnett, 2018); “Armin Linke: Prospecting Ocean” at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Venice, Italy (2018); “Tidalectics” at TBA21–Augarten in Vienna, Austria (2017); “Fishing for Islands” at Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, Germany (with Chus Martínez and Markus Reymann, 2017); “Sugar and Speed” at the Museum of Modern Art in Recife, Brazil (2017); “Katja Aglert: Winter Event – antifreeze” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santiago, Chile and at FLORA in Bogotá, Colombia (2015/16); and the 8th Momentum Biennial “Tunnel Vision” in Moss, Norway (2015).
In 2013, Hessler co-founded the art space Andquestionmark in Stockholm, Sweden (with Carsten Höller), where she commissioned artists to produce “unsaturated” artworks whose outcome is undetermined, including projects by Pierre Bismuth, Florian Hecker, Christine Sun Kim, and Raimundas Malašauskas. Between 2016–19, she was curator of TBA21–Academy in London, UK, an interdisciplinary art and research platform with a focus on the oceans. Between 2017–19, she was a guest professor in art theory at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, Sweden, where she curated among others the exhibition Juan Downey: With Energy Beyond These Walls (2018).
Hessler regularly writes for publications like Art-Agenda, ArtReview, Flash Art, and Mousse Magazine. She has edited books like Life Itself, including 173 texts from different disciplines on the unanswerable question of what life essentially is, published by Moderna Museet and Koenig Books (2016), and Tidalectics. Imagining an Oceanic Worldview through Art and Science, published by The MIT Press (2018). Her book Prospecting Ocean (with a visual essay by Armin Linke and a foreword by Bruno Latour) was published by The MIT Press in December 2019.