22 March – 19 May 2024

The last common ancestor of octopuses and humans was probably a wormlike creature with eye spots that lived 750 million years ago. Since then, both have evolved into intelligent species, but very differently. The octopus is the only creature to have three-quarters of its brain in its eight arms. It is like something from another planet, while still very similar to us.

In Octomom, octopus, human, and time intertwine. The installation combines video footage of Octomom, an audio story about the octopus’s brooding period, and a self-portrait of the artist with her newborn child. The octopus (Graneledone boreopacifica), which researchers named Octomom, brooded her eggs for 53 months in the Monterey Canyon in the Pacific Ocean, which is the longest known brooding period in the world. A robot submarine from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute visited Octomom a total of 18 times. The work includes footage filmed by the robot.

In her recent works, Maija Tammi has explored how we learn to feel and how we understand the meanings of emotions. Although we can never truly know what it would be like to be an octopus, we can still toy with the idea. We can try to understand and at the same time possibly develop our feelings towards other species. Octomom proposes sharing the experience of motherhood with an individual from another species, and asks us what empathy really is.

Maija Tammi (b. 1985, Lieto) is an award-winning Finnish artist and Doctor of Arts, whose photographs and videos examine the topics of death and immortality by combining art and science. Tammi worked as a photojournalist for six years before embarking on her career as an artist. She completed her doctorate in arts in 2017. Tammi’s practice is characterised by the desire to get to the bottom of things, and she often collaborates with artists, researchers, and experts in various fields. Her works have been exhibited internationally and she has five published books. In Finland, her work was last shown at the Finnish Museum of Photography in 2023. This year, her work is also being exhibited in Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, South Korea, and Japan.

The artist’s work has been supported by the Arts Promotion Centre Finland. The exhibition is supported by the Finnish Heritage Agency.