Maija Tammi’s most recent series of works – photographs, a short film, and a photobook – investigate the peculiarities of a freshwater polyp, Hydra vulgaris. Fusing art and science, Tammi considers the hydra through the lenses of philosophical reasoning and religious belief, cultural mythology and scientificexperimentation. Assisted by microscopic imaging, the artist presents the anomalies of the organism that have perplexed biologists over the centuries. Its sexual, asexual and regenerative reproduction led them to ask: Is it a plant or an animal? Its ability to eat, hunt and move, as well as disassociate into singular cells and reform into a cohesive entity had early scientist propose it was a sentient being with multiple souls.
Unrestrained by biological time, where reproduction and gestation are relativeto lifespan, the hydra does not age. In her work, Tammi has positioned the short lives of various species, including humans, against the immortality of the hydra. This juxtaposition of the aging and the ageless connects the past and the future to create an eternal present. Tammi promotes a philosophical shift, where increments of human time loose relevance against the infinite, and a perspective other than human surfaces in our consciousness.
The Problem of the Hydra 2017-2020
Single channel, digital moving image, with sound
Duration: 9:40 min loop
Sound design: Charles Quevillon
Voice by Ava Grayson
Example 1 of a moderately quickly aging species 2020
Example 2 of a very quickly aging species 2020
Example 1 of a very quickly aging species 2020
Example of a non-aging species 2020
Example 2 of a moderately quickly aging species 2020
Inkjet prints on backlit film, light boxes
Maija TAMMI and Ville TIETAVAINEN
Immortal: lost memoirs of Cornelia Dulac concerning the freshwater polyp Hydra.
Aalto, Finland: Aalto ARTS Books, 2020