A new exhibition in Oxford features the beautiful art of Anna Dumitriu, exploring the complex world of microbes and how we interact with them. 

Anna Dumitriu, prolific bioartist that works with bacteria, will show some of her best work at the solo exhibition BioArt and Bacteria that will be hosted at the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford, UK. Opening the 28th of September, Dumitriu’s exhibition merges art, science and history, drawing a journey of our relationship with bacteria from the sanatoriums of the Romantic period to the discovery of antibiotics and the modern era of synthetic biology.

The work of Anna Dumitriu isn’t just about bacteria, but often contains bacteria itself. For example, the piece Microbe Mouth, which will be featured in the exhibition, consists of teeth grown using extremophile bacteria from the Serratia genus, which is harmless to humans. Developed in collaboration with researchers Melissa Grant and Rachel Sammons, from the School of Dentistry at the University of Birmingham, the work poses questions regarding whether we are ready for products made from microbes, especially when it comes to such “personal” items as are our teeth.

At the core of the exhibition will be Ex Voto, a piece created for a previous exhibition at the Museum of the History of Science focused on antibiotics. The work, produced with the collaboration of museum visitors, consists of votive offerings, inspired on those used in religion, that are hung by participants after story sharing sessions exploring the impact of infections and antibiotics on our lives. The pieces are hung on ribbons dyed with antimicrobial substances and bacteria, including strains from the gut microbiota, Staphylococcus aureus, and genetically-modified Streptomyces. In this new exhibition, the piece will keep growing with the stories of individual experiences with the world of bacteria and antibiotics.

These and more pieces by Anna Dumitriu will be exhibited at the Museum of the History of Science with free admission until March 2018 for all interested in learning more about the fascinating world of microbes and taking part in the creation of art. And for those keen to meet the mind behind it, Dumitriu will be giving a talk on October 6th.


Images via Anna Dumitriu; Oxford University Images; Ian Wallman

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