For autumn 2019, Johanna Rotko’s Living Images research centre will be moving to the Kymenlaakso Museum at Maritime Centre Vellamo. The exhibition will feature old and new photographs and yeastograms, which are real living images, as well as multimedia, performative presentations and realisations of yeastograms.
Johanna Rotko, who hails from Kotka, is a visual artist who makes images out of living materials, mainly yeast. She cultivates different species of yeast in growth media, onto which she exposes halftone images with the help of UV lights. The images are formed during an exposure process of around 48 hours. She learnt about the yeastogram technique at a workshop organised by the Finnish Bioart Society and the Pavillon_35 artist collective in 2013. Since then, she has been working on yeast images.
Rotko lives and works in Kotka. Her laboratory is in her home’s kitchen, the exposure is done in her study, and the research centre is located on her balcony and in her kitchen. Rotko’s work is done over intensive periods of exposing and photographing media for different lengths of time. This working method constitutes experimental artistic research whose methods have been borrowed from life sciences. According to Rotko, the yeast images project is a constant battle between the roles of art and science.
The artistic theme of the project has been to investigate Rotko’s own relationship with nature and how her actions affect the environment. Her worry about the state of the world, and especially about biodiversity loss, is an essential part of the research. In the future, Rotko wants to use her images to tell people about the diversity of yeast species, while specialising in wild yeasts. At the same time, she wants to highlight how important it is to preserve biodiversity and different ecosystems and to use them sustainably as well as to respect nature. You can start by doing small things such as stubbornly continuing to make yeast images, baking bread using wild yeast and growing your own very locally produced yeast.