Anna Ting Möller

Anna Ting Möller lives and works in New York City and Stockholm. Möller has an MFA in Visual Art, with a concentration in installation and expanded practices at Columbia University in the City of New York (2023), and a BFA from Konstfack University, Stockholm (2018). Anna is a previous grantee of The Here & There Collective’s Studio Grant.
January 25, 2024
Play Video
Tell us about your practice.
My work focuses on kombucha as a corporeal potential and follows a material logic. The sculptures are ephemeral and constantly morphing. Conceptually, it is important for me to work with one kombucha mother, creating a lineage of offspring based on a matrilineal ‘family tree.’ After growing the organism in a large vat, I subtract layers of ‘skin’ from the mother culture and use the flesh-resembling matter to create amorphous ‘bodies.’ Fermentation is a form of domestication, and a jar of kombucha culture provides a small portal into the way life happens.
My sculptures are alive in a literal sense, and the appearance of the work changes over time. In theory, it is possible to return the ‘body’ to the culture, the mother. However, the risk of contamination is extremely high. The method expands on the relationship between mother and child, representing an intimidating collapse in meaning caused by the loss of the distinction between self and other.
I am interested in the sexualized and grotesque, and the work often depicts a hanging disposable body, where the ‘skin’ operates as the trope. The fetishized Other has emerged from the motivation to ‘know’ those who are unfamiliar and to subjectively understand the culture. Through transformative installations, I aim to control the gaze by creating scenarios in which I seek to control, contain, and master.
Your practice is expressed through a unique medium—kombucha. Can you share how you started using this as your primary medium?
In 2015, I traveled to China in search of my birth mother. Ultimately, I did not find her. Instead, the woman I stayed with gifted me a kombucha mother, and a different kind of mother found me. Since then, I have been cultivating that same kombucha culture through a fermentation process involving tea and sugar—both materials rooted in fraught relationships with Northern European economies. I began exploring allegories linked to kombucha—as a mother, offspring, caregiver, contaminant, and even parasite—hinging on the necessity of continuous care.
What have you learned from utilizing a living and ever-changing medium such as kombucha?
Momentary value, that nothing can stay the same, life is constantly changing. Let go of control to move forward. 
Your practice extends beyond the use of kombucha to include other materials such as ceramics and glass. Can you share insights into how your practice navigates between these diverse mediums?
I take an interest in exploring what material can contribute to a specific context and delving into the history of a particular craft or material. I am curious about how I can connect it to a specific subject that I am interested in at the moment. For instance, the craft of glass blowing holds special significance in Småland, Sweden, where I grew up. The abundant forest provided an ample amount of wood supply for heating the furnaces in the past, contributing to a thriving glass industry. However, with globalization and the prevalence of ‘cheap’ labor, this industry has declined. 
Porcelain similarly entered my orbit. I was curious how porcelain would interact with elements like tea, sugar, and, of course, kombucha. Porcelain is often referred to as China or bone china, and I also wondered how would that add symbolically to the work. By combining it with an aesthetic not directly tied to ‘China,’ I aimed to find a balance in a visual language that truly represents me. 
I love learning new crafts, as it helps me to be humble and playful in the studio.  
What has been inspiring you lately?
Grafting apple trees. As mentioned earlier, I grew up in Sweden where it was quite common to encounter tree hybrids. I became fascinated by a particular tree that produces various apple variations, but I couldn’t comprehend how it worked. Currently, I am delving into research to understand it better. Moreover, my upcoming exhibition at Gallery Tutu is titled “grafting, for that which grows and that which bars” a name that draws inspiration from the beautiful works of the Swedish writer Karin Boye. Boye, active in the 1930s, penned a poem that I adore, centered around tree symbolism and the burst of the bud.
What are you investigating these days? Is there anything we can look forward to seeing in future works?
I am currently reading Julia Kristeva’s ‘Powers of Horror.’ The book explores the concept Kristeva terms ‘abjection,’ which is a threatening rejection of entities such as corpses, bodily wastes, and other fluids. Kristeva describes the mother-child symbiotic relationship as something that we both longed for and dreaded. Before birth, the mother and child exist as one and the same creature. During this pre-personal phase, in abjection, we grapple for our individual existence, resisting the threat of being swallowed up by the larger realm of existence.
In my interactions, I’ve observed that many people exhibit attitudes that can be highly consumptive, selfish, rude, and demanding. However, amidst these, some are dedicated and attentive. Maturing involves processing these challenging attitudes and developing personal frameworks to counterbalance them with comfort and care.
On a different note, I am in the planning stages for a show in Stockholm in 2024.

Stay in the loop