Matadero Madrid center for contemporary creation

Microbial Cosmologies

From 29/09/2023 until 15/12/2023
Nave 0

Synthetic Imaginaries exhibition cycle: Microbial Cosmologies


Microbial Cosmologies presents three audiovisual works by Finnish artist Jenna Sutela, who engages with biological and computational systems, such as bacteria and artificial neural networks, to unravel the interconnections between humans, microbes, and machines. The works, Holobiont, Milky Ways and nimiia cétïi, explore the symbiotic relationship between humans and bacteria, as well as the influence of microorganisms on our consciousness and perception of the world.

In Holobiont, Sutela highlights the bacteria Bacillus subtilis in a kind of creation myth. This bacteria, common in fermented foods like Japanese nattō, is depicted as playing a key role in the origins of life, suggesting life may have arisen from interstellar microbial contaminations.

Milky Ways focuses its interest on the breast-gut-brain connection. Sutela examines how breast milk transfers microbial and cognitive worlds to newborns, drawing from current research on human digestion and the complex interactions between gut bacteria and the oligosaccharides in breast milk.

In nimiia cétiï, Sutela engages in an experiment with nonhuman language and communication. Here, she introduces an alien language that challenges conventional human logic and symbolism. The piece brings together an imagined Martian-bacterial language, channeled through 19th-century French medium, Hélène Smith, and a machine-learning algorithm.

Microbial Cosmologies is the inaugural act of Synthetic Imaginaries; a series of exhibitions curated by Julia Kaganskiy that looks at non-human agency across various sites and scales, exploring the way it shapes our understanding of intelligence, free will, and complex systems.

Microbial Cosmologies is located in the building opposite the information point at Matadero Madrid, and is open from Tuesday to Friday from 17:00 to 21:00, and Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 to 21:00.

Link to the curatorial text