top of page

Maya Minder

It is only through the multitude that we build resilience (Maya Minder)

Cooking thus transforms us“, is a framework Maya Minder weaves like a strings through her work. Cooking serves her to reveal the metaphor of the human transformation of raw nature into cooked culture and she combines it to the evolutionary ideas of a symbiotic co-existence between plants, animals and humans. She creates entanglements between human commodities and animism of nature. Maya Minder‘s 'Gasthaus kitchenlab' lays in the practices of Biohacker, Maker and Thirdspace, an example of relational aesthetics in the age of the postdigital. Through the setting of a functional kitchen, it invites groups of artists and activists in the field of nutrition and ecology to discuss their visions and endeavours, using as a starting point and a mutual concept the process of fermentation and DIYbio.


*1983 lives and works in Zurich and Paris. She studied Art history at the University of Zurich and holds a MA Fine Arts from Zurich University of Arts. Awards & scholarships: Bourse Region Centre-Val-Loire, Production Award and Residency (2022), several grants and support including from Migros Kulturprozent, Pro Helvetia and Jeu de Paume, Palm. Amongst the latest exhibitions: “ART4MED: Art Meets Health and Biomedical Research - Open Source Body” Cité Internationale des Arts  (2022), “Biopunk: feed food fermentation” Shedhalle Zurich (2019), Klöntal Triennale Kunsthalle Zurich (2017). She is also a curator and organiser of projects and festivals in co-production with the Interational Hackteria Society. 


Can art foster social change - and what role can artists and their work play in this? Is there room for them to take a leading role?


I entered the art sphere through a curatorial approach during my studies in art history while in Zurich. Arts are capable of changing the perspectives of future concepts of living together. This idea is adapted and inspired by the Bauhaus movement, art and design merging into a Gesamtkunstwerk. I eventually realised that this holistic approach fits well with my performative action of cooking and fermenting. I initially created gatherings around topics related to food or Eatart, open source research related to soil or biohacking or bioart in a relational aesthetic sense. With this in mind, the starting point of Fermentation for me is an encounter with the more-than-human world of fungi, bacteria, plant or algae. I often apply mutuality and translation in the practice of everyday life and often work in collectives or communities. Mycelia thinking can be applied into practice of daily life. One can say I am inspired by the slogan “biologic wisdom, social transformation”. I am both hyperlocal and global, and always inspired by Marshall McLuhan's term Global Village, I live it through the various collectives I am part of and represent. So, to talk about the fact that the arts can foster social change, I would rather state that to meet the realm of politics, you cannot teach the masses but only tame your own gardens. 


In a time of radical upheaval and crisis, can we still hope for a better future? What impact can narrative have on the process of building such a future?


The times we live in are a perpetual repetition of history, it is not an unspoken fact that we are in a greater crisis in the ecological, social and political spheres. But as I believe in shared data and open source policy, we are all free in our choices and decisions through the free distribution of information. We live in a time of great complexity, and I obviously don't think that the production of artworks alone helps to build and elevate a narrative beyond their institutions. Working within hacking, open source and transdisciplinary frameworks, I promote ideas of radical care by sharing knowledge and networks with my peers on digital tools. It is only through the multitude that we build resilience and therefore I do not dogma or play the role of demagogue but rather retreat into my own circles.



What might be the premises of a transdisciplinary dialogue (between art, culture and other disciplines) capable of triggering social transformation? In your own work, what expertise or practices could go in the direction of such a transdisciplinarity?


To think about the world differently is to go beyond one's own boundaries of access. We all live in different systems of knowledge production and artists certainly have the freedom to create synesthetic hermeneutic circles and move associatively, to dig into research like dilettantes and access in a hacking way. For the Green Open Food Evolution project, I talk about algae and the ecological change of the Anthropocene. The critique of science is a tool not only from a Western perspective, but also from a global consent that we have to continuously negotiate. I am a promoter of commodity history after Anna T. Löwenhaupt who decentralises the Western subject and focuses on the entanglements of commodities or goods. This is a feminist perspective on history writing. For example, it took 150 years to get umami into our Western canon of knowledge, and there are many other queer positions that have been underplayed in our Western narrative. For the story of Green Open Food Evolution, I tell a story that is a critique of Western science, I choose protist algae (micro and macro) as the heroine and how they transform humans evolutionarily towards the ideal of becoming Homo Photosyntheticus. Biological wisdom can lead to social change, in contrast to the 'survival of the fittest' of the Neo-Darwinists who had a very bad influence on the 20th century. We are slowly gaining an understanding of life through Lynn Margulis' theory of endosymbiotic evolution and the queering of taxonomy could slowly trigger social change. This is an artistic research project that I am conducting with Ewen Chardronnet by creating a “media-kitchen lab" at the intersection of performance, design, architecture, eatart, biohacking and film, in an interdisciplinary approach aiming to escape traditional categories.


Assuming it is possible to build a better world on the ruins of the old one - what do you think it might look like? What would you wish for a better world?


Like many, I was released by reading Anna T. Löwenhaupt's book on the Matsutake mushroom, where she shifts from an anthropocentric view of history writing to a queer feminist approach to commodity history. Reading all the wild networks of entanglements between man, nature and culture shifted the structural system of thinking and made me think. I wish there was more narrative and tentacular writing in this way, using Donna Harraway's Chthulucene and the "make kin, not babies" reference to overcome this human-centric era. Stories are the only things my kids listen too, why theoreticize if you can sing along.  



It is often said that artists (and creative people at large) have a unique ability to constantly search for the new, starting from scratch again and again, relentlessly. What strategies or rituals do you use when you start a new project?


Starting from scratch is a myth and we all work from things that have slowly simmered or been transformed in our history of embodied body knowledge. I think everything is given, inscribed and already there. For myself, most of my projects have been externally requested, it's funny, I've often been initiated by a third party to focus on a specific topic, of course it was my choice, but sometimes I am stubborn and don't see things until someone slaps them in my face, so fermentation, algae, kombucha, it all came about somehow with someone pushing me towards it. I really love how there is synchronicity in this world and how things and objects show meaning. In an animistic sphere, who creates the co-relation? 

The interview was conducted in April 2022.

bottom of page