K-9_topology: Hybrid Family
K-9_topology: Hybrid Family
Maja Smrekar | Manuel Vason
© the artist
Curated by
Moderna galerija, Ljubljana
Technical details
digital photograph, C-print, 70 × 140 mm. Production: Kapelica Gallery/Kersnikova Institute (SI) and Freies Museum Berlin (DE)
Download: Manifesto on mOtherness


Involving interdisciplinary research and reflecting her personal mythology, Maja Smrekar’s work explores the intersections between human and animal, and entwines these contexts with technology and performative elements. Occasionally, the artist expands her practice to include micro-performativity to underscore processes occurring in the human body, and also includes nonhuman entities.

Amazed by the solidity of the bonds in a wolf pack led by a matriarch, the artist began examining her own motherly instincts, coming to the conclusion that motherhood should not be reduced to mere parenthood, but should rather consist of multiple diverse human relations and constitute a concept of solidarity between humans and nonhumans in cocreating a responsible future. This led her to develop a micro-performative method for archiving her maternal empathy at the molecular level.

The Hybrid Family project took place at the Freies Museum Berlin as a performance-in-progress between October 2015 and February 2016. The process of inducing lactation in the artist’s body included preparing her body with an iron-rich diet and galactagogues, i.e., substances used to induce or increase lactation, and with mechanical breast pumping. Breastfeeding – and breast pumping – triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin, which may enhance emotional empathy, and of the hormone prolactin, which stimulates the production of milk. In this way the artist adopted the strategy of some mothers-to-be who decide to adopt a baby who has not yet been weaned.

Smrekar decorated the museum space as a home, a humanized den for herself, her adult dog, and a new puppy. She began producing colostrum after eight weeks. In her seclusion with the dogs, the artist was joined by the photographer Manuel Vason, and together they produced a series of performative photographs. The public presentation of the project further consisted of a number of visits by appointment, where visitors could witness the puppy being fed drops of the artist’s colostrum and discuss, over tea, reproductive freedom in a heteronormative society.