Monday 7 April 2014

Interview with Claudia Sola

Interview with Claudia Sola 
February 2014

Claudia Sola is an artist based in Amsterdam. In November 2013, she took part in the Jerwood Encounters exhibition ‘Family Politics’, curated by Photoworks, where she showed a number of portraits from her ongoing project Dynasty. Her work also appeared in the Photoworks annual of the same title, as a special commission.

I conducted an online conversation with Sola to discuss the project.

Anna McNay: Your project, Dynasty, is based on an exploration of your mitochondrial relatives, extending from having had your DNA charted and discovering that there is this particular DNA molecule, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which is passed down only from our mothers.

Claudia Sola: Yes, I had my DNA charted because of a health related question. It’s very simple. You send off some cheek tissue, a few saliva samples, just like they do in the movies. When I got the raw data back, I noticed the word mtDNA and the letter I. I didn’t understand what that meant. I needed to know more about it, so I bought a few books and started researching.
mtDNA is small, ring-shaped DNA that is not part of the nucleus of a cell but is found in mitochondria in the cellular fluid. Mitochondria regulate the energy balance in the cell, the transformation of nutrients into suitable fuel and the use of oxygen in our metabolism. Not all cells have identical numbers of mitochondria. Male sperm cells, for example, have very few and these are in the tails. Since the tail falls off the moment the sperm enters the ovum, the embryo is completely dependent on the hereditary qualities of the female mitochondria for the energy balance in its cells, in boys and girls alike. As the mitochondria originate 100 percent from the mother, they form a trail of hereditary characteristics that go back through mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, right back to the very first woman, ‘Mitochondrial Eve’.

Once every 10,000 years, a minute mutation occurs in one woman. 36 different clan mothers have been discovered to date. The clan mother is at the head of a so-called haplogroup. These 36 haplogroups subsume all of the world’s population today. Each haplogroup is given a letter and each clan mother has a fictitious name. My clan is haplogroup I; my clan mother is called Iris. She lived approximately 25,000 years ago in the Middle East, probably in what we now call Iran.

To read the rest of this interview, please go to:

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