On the occasion of the Performa Biennial 2023, Jenna Sutela will present Midden (LIVE), a newly commissioned performance work that builds upon the sounds and messages produced by Vermi-Sibyl, 2023, a sculpture currently installed at SI.
Thursday, Nov. 2: 7pm
On the occasion of the Performa Biennial 2023, Jenna Sutela will present Midden (LIVE), a newly commissioned performance work that builds upon the sounds and messages produced by Vermi-Sibyl, 2023, a sculpture currently installed at SI. The performance and sculpture take their point of departure from a figure in the Muppet universe: a matronly trash heap named Marjory. Because everything from vegetable and fruit scraps to coffee grounds and organic leftovers is deposited in her, Marjory the Trash Heap has seen it all and knows all; she is an oracle. The sculpture Vermi-Sibyl takes the form of a receptacle into which staff deposit their compostable materials, that are processed by approximately one thousand worms inside. Garnering the electrochemical reactions in the soil as an earth battery, the vermicompost powers an AI-generated sound installation installed on SI’s rooftop and transmits oracular messages to the East Village.
Sutela grew up knowing the Finnish version of the Marjory Muppet as Tunkio, which translates in English to “midden,” meaning a domestic refuse heap. The term is also used to refer to a mess, a muddle or chaos. For Midden (LIVE), Sutela will collaborate with a choir of voice actors and the saxophonist Tapiwa Svosve, who will respectively ingest and read out Vermi-Sibyl’s divinations and play a musical score. Through this embodied materialization of the formerly AI-based content, which in turn was trained on original vocal and sound recordings, Sutela’s performance touches on themes of translation while addressing post-humanist amalgamations of organic and non-organic life.
About Jenna Sutela
Jenna Sutela is a Finnish artist based in Berlin who works with words, sounds, and other living media. Sutela’s work has been presented internationally at Haus Der Kunst, Munich; MIT List Visual Arts Center, Massachusetts; Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Liverpool Biennial 2021; the 13th Shanghai Biennale; and other locations. Past projects include Pond Brain, an instrument and fountain presented at Helsinki Biennial 2023 and at Copenhagen Contemporary in 2023; nimiia vibié, an audio piece composed of machine learning sounds and interspecies communication, released in summer 2019 on the record label PAN; and the audio-visual work nimiia cétiï, completed as part of a residency at Somerset House Studios, London in early 2018. Co-commissioned by Moderna Museet, Stockholm and Serpentine Galleries, London in 2019, I Magma is a community of blown glass lava-heads and a mobile app that explore the notion of an oracle through alternative forms of intelligence and the application of machinic and chemical processes.
Midden (LIVE) is curated by Stefanie Hessler, Alison Coplan, and KJ Abudu
The Finnish Pavilion Without Walls is supported by Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, the Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland, Saastamoinen Foundation, the Finnish Cultural Institute New York, FRAME, and Consulate General Finland.