about me

photo sb



Where does environment begin and end? Sonja Bäumel’s (AT) interest lies in the microbial layer, a second layer that can be found on top of all bodies. It is an in-between layer, full of life, which serves as a fluid layer for exchange. The human body does not end with skin, but is continually, invisibly expanding into this fluid in-between. The in-between is full of entanglements, and our human body is just a tiny part of these microbial relations. For more than ten years she has been collaborating with scientists, artists, designers, cultural historians, anthropologists, philosophers and filmmakers to find out more about this ‘in-between’.
Her artistic research explores as well the subsequent evolving perception of what bodies are made of. She is investigating the influences scientific knowledge has had on the way we have perceived and interpreted the human body historically and how this affects our current society and the cultural contexts in which we act. Sonja is particularly interested in how our understanding of what it means ‘to be human’ is fundamentally changing in the 21st century.
The critique of human exceptionalism and the democratisation of scientific knowledge are at the core of her work and its investigations into the curious relationship between (human) bodies and microbes. Based on current scientific theories and discoveries, her work stages encounters with these beings living inside and on us to explore possible futures for further coexistence.


Sonja studied Fashion Design at the Fashion Institute of Vienna, and holds a Bachelor in Arts from the
University of Arts of Linz, as well as a Master in Conceptual Design in Context from the Design Academy
Eindhoven. In 2012 she was awarded with the Outstanding Artist Award Experimental Design, for the project Textile Anatomy, from the BMUKK Federal Ministry for Education, Art and Culture of Vienna.

Her work has been exhibited internationally in Ars Electronica Center(AT), Anthology Film Archives New York (USA); MAK Museum of Applied Arts(AT); Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei (TW), Museum of Natural History Vienna(AT) or ZKM Center for Art and Media(DE) or Centre Pompidou Paris (FR). Her Textured Self project is in the permanent collection of the Textielmuseum in Tilburg in the Netherlands. Her works have also been the basic impact for documentary films (ORF/ARTE: BioArt - Kunst aus dem Labor; Servus TV_Terra Mater: Wir sind Planeten) to which she actively contributed. She is co-founder of the Dunbar's Number collective (2011), member of Pavillion35 (2012) collective based in Vienna, and of the WNDRLUST (2013-2018) collective based in Amsterdam.

Sonja is heading the Jewellery-Linking Bodies Department at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, as well as lecturing and giving workshops in different national and international academies and universities.