Mother's Milk Cheese
In 1983, the birth of her son Zoroaster (contemporary artist Zoro Feigl) inspired artist Ine Poppe to start a media art project. She was intrigued by how her body responded to childbirth, in particular how she transformed into a milk-producing entity. It inspired the artist with the idea to start collecting her breast milk and use it to make a cheese.
This item, a Dutch Mother's Milk Cheese, became the central piece of an extensive project that comprised music (made from baby hiccups), video (an extensive account of the complete project), an exhibition (art centre Fodor in Amsterdam exhibited the cheese), a booklet and media performances. The project was widely reported on in the Dutch press and caused quite a stir. Mainstream newspaper Volkskrant commented: 'om te kotsen' ('makes us puke': these were the eighties and the Volkskrant was still closer to its catholic roots).
Internationally the project received more positive response: it was shown from Japan (TV show) to the US (New York Times). In the Netherlands, Poppes' (mostly male) artist-contemporaries ostracised her for a while, the subject of her work was at that time still just a bit too controversial for the Dutch, male-dominated, old media art scene.
The project is now accepted as one of the all-time highs of Dutch media art. The cheese itself was sold to an art collector and never surfaced since. The combination of media art and feminist critique is now an established art form. The fact that Poppe was one of the international trailblazers of this approach in art and paved the way for artists like Tracey Emin is today widely recognised. Poppe continued producing projects in this realm like Vrouwen met Baarden (1997, one of the first Dutch internet art projects: a calendar portraying only independent women) and more recently in November 2021 Beftival, a festival about female sexuality at Mediamatic Artspace in Amsterdam.
After months of expressing breast milk, writing down what food was eaten and stamping the date, the milk was stored in the freezer. Together with the artist, farmer Jan Rooze made the cheese in the Centre of Dutch Crafts, established in the 1980s in Amsterdam.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
video- editing Riekje Ziengs, Framer Jan Rooze, doctors: Franz Feigl, Erik Hobijn, Franz Feigl