Other-Mother portrays a posthuman birth, a birth out of fermentation, symbiosis

and interspecies care, a motherly relationship to the other-than-human.



The theme of Foto Wien 2022 is Rethinking Nature. In challenging times of a pandemic and climate change we are forced to rethink our relationship to nature. OTHER-MOTHER is a proclamation for a role reversal in our constellation with the other-than-human, with others that play crucial roles for our existence. In troubled times of climate change, mass species extinction and a pandemic our relation to the natural world can no longer stay a passive or naïve one, we can not just stay in the comfortable role of care receivers. OTHER-MOTHER pictures an eco-emancipated act of care-giving and suggests to rehabilitate a bond to those that were at the very beginning of life, pleading for a microbial Renaissance. 


During the long history of the earth, microbes (and here I count viruses among them), together with fungi and plants, have been essential, and are still crucial, to the composition of the environment in which we humans live. The pandemic has shown us that we can’t escape the invasive presence of others. They react to our actions, to our changing climate; if they mutate, we have to mutate as well.


Maaijke Middelbeek, Interspecies Care, Other-Mother, Postanthropecene, Posthumanist, Donna Harraway, Anna Tsing





Mother SCOBY, Baby SCOBY 

Self-Portrait with Symbiotic Cultures Of Bacteria & Yeast

(photoprint 78 x 100 cm)





In the process of fermentation SCOBY (Symbiotic Cultures Of Bacteria & Yeast) grow an organ on top of Kombucha tea that works much like our skin or a placenta. The hull protects the maternal culture and newborns in the fluid, it is an expanding and renewing natural defence. If it gets damaged or removed the symbionts will immediately start to repair or create a new cover. A new tissue layer can only grow from a mother culture and is therefore also called Baby SCOBY.


SCOBY biofilms are inspiring self-sustaining care communities. Microscopic organisms living together in complex systems, bonding in mutually beneficial constructions, depending on one another, contributing to each other’s joy and growth. 

There's something growing,

outside and inside of me.



ancient, otherworldly,

from some time no man knows

from some place no man goes

very different







It seems to go through the process of building organs

Worlds in the making 

Strangely familiar 

We know each other 

I am kin to it.






































Umbilical Cord


from SCOBY cellulose

Symbiotic Cultures Of Bacteria & Yeast



Maaijke Middelbeek, Other-Mother, SCOBY, interspecies care, post anthropocene


Reclining mother and child


baby SCOBY and placenta from SCOBY cellulose

SCOBY Symbiotic Cultures Of Bacteria & Yeast

(37 x 50cm)




A microbial Renaissance


Regeneration with microbes

It seems to go through the process of building

organs. It is capable of healing,







Maaijke Middelbeek, SCOBY, Other-Mother, Interspecies Care, Microbial Renaissance


Microbial Renaissance

The Placenta


Placenta (biofilm from Symbiotic Cultures Of Bacteria & Yeast),

amniotic fluid, dish on photo print of the atmosphere

(60 x 60cm)




The Origin of the World


> After Gustav Courbet's L'Origine du Monde, France 1866 <


Bacteria; the origin of the world 

Photoprint with afterbirth & umbilical cord from SCOBY cellulose

(Symbiotic Cultures Of Bacteria & Yeast) 

petri-dish growing symbiotic microbial cultures


(50 x 65 cm)