Who are we and where do we belong? How do we know?

Objects can function as symbols of identity, of nationhood for example and of people's socioeconomic environments. Our country of origin and/or residence are represented by a passport and by the currency that we use. For some purposes fingerprints, retinal scans, and genome testing are already also being used as markers of identity. Johanna Zellmer's jewellery work uses such objects to comment on issues of identity politics.

In 2019 Johanna was granted an artist's residency in Sweden for three months which enabled her to undertake new studio work and connect with local and other visiting international artists. Her work was highly relevant in Sweden which was seeking to become a cashless society and which has very high levels of immigration. Johanna also took the opportunity to curate a exhibition as part of the Schmuck jewellery week in Munich.

Johanna's new work developed during her residency explores the idea that a person's genome sequence might in future be used like an identity card, and even used to control movement and migration between countries. She has begun using genomic flow cells in her work, flat glass slides printed with genetic barcodes. It is feasible now to conduct genome sequencing for whole populations, but who will have access to this most highly personal information, and what will they use it for?

January 2021