Spreading fear and mayhem in the visual arts.

Cornelia Hesse-Honegger's "Bilder einer mutierenden Welt" at Les Complices, Zurich

by Suzanne on May 12th, 2011


Ladybird beetle near Three Mile Island. Dent and a black growth on wings by Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, watercolour, 1991 - click to enlarge

My favourite Swiss scientific artist, Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, who has been following in Maria Sibylla Merian's footsteps, gained well-deserved worldwide praise and scientific recognition with her 1990 series of minute illustrations of deformations of insects she found around the core of the disaster area of Chernobyl. She continued her investigations and entomologic research by analysing insect mutation and deformation around Swiss nuclear power stations, then extending her radius to Europe and the United States (see example above).

She calls her method Seh-Forschung and her website's title is Wissenskunst and I think these terms really sum up her life and work perfectly.

Fabric Frontline's Andi Stutz was so impressed by her work that he devoted a series of stunning silk (oh, the irony!) scarves to her cause. And even though I very much doubt most Züriberg millionaire's wives have actually looked at the insects closely enough to discover they're all mutated and disfigured, exactly therein lies the genius of such a collaboration.

With a rare talent to zoom in closely on a globally important issue and combine ecologically relevant information, a political agenda, microscopic scentific precision and a zen-like pointillistic aesthetic that dispels any horror vacui, Cornelia Hesse-Honegger's current Bilder einer mutierenden Welt show in Zurich is one not to be missed.

All details below.


Various insect mutations by Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, watercolour - click to enlarge


On show: May 11 - June 11, 2011

Address: Les Complices, Anwandstrasse 9, CH-8004 Zürich, Switzerland, tel: 043 243 88 77

Gallery hours: Thu - Sat: 2 - 6 PM

Press release & preview

Artist's website

The astounding Heteroptera monograph on Amazon UK


And while we're so entomologically inclined, I would like to share this sweet trailer for the great Japanese movie Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo with you that London's Horse Hospital will be screening beginning of June:

by suzanne_tumblr on October 16th, 2009

Tremendous thanks to Stefan Sicher for re-discovering one of my favourite Swiss artists/scientists: Cornelia Hesse-Honegger whose fascination for and obsession with deformed and mutated insects is deeply awe-inspiring. I once had a beautifully bound book of her studies of Chernobyl’s insect world, poetically entitled Heteroptera - The Beautiful and the Other or Images of a Mutating World - and I hope that whoever owns it now loves it as much as I did back then.