[ISEA2020] Workshop: Nathalie Dubois Calero — Queer and biophilic approach of the cutaneous microbiome

Workshop Statement


This workshop will allow the general adult public to experience their cutaneous microbiome (micro-organisms that live on and in our skin) in a haptic -visual/olfactive- and intellectual reflection about our ubiquitous relationships of hate/love with this part of ourselves. Participants will soak a piece of fabric in a culture broth and inoculate it with their cutaneous microbiome. We will use our lactobacilli to lacto-ferment vegetables and produce some safe and personal sauerkrauts, kimchi, and hot sauces. In the meantime, I explain principles from microbiology- and traditional cooking- to get safe cultures. Scientific data about our cutaneous microbiome will open a discussion on our physical relationships with it. Two weeks previously the workshop, participants will receive a shortlist of material to get before the activity and the culture broth recipe (it takes 30 min to prepare from ingredients found in any grocery store). To illustrate possible troubleshooting with lacto-fermentation, I will show healthy and dubious cultures done a week before. The exploration of some pieces of fabric with microbial colonies from different microbiomes will allow us to enjoy their beauty and diversity. We will broadly determinate their microbial composition and interpret it. We will also explore our love/hate for our microbiome. We hate it, it is our smell, animality, but it wraps us from birth to death, protecting us, intimately connecting us to the outer world, and to itself (ourselves) in a queer relationship. Maximum of participants: 15 Duration: 2,5 hours

  • Nathalie┬áDubois Calero. Bioartist with one foot in the art (graduated in Fine Art-BFA), one foot in science (Ph.D. in plant science), my preferred media are micro-organisms, growing over a fabric, in co-culture with Rochelle crystals, integrated into metal/plaster objects or as a very personal food, making colonies from airborne spores or human bodies. My works are a reflection about our relationships with microbes as a part of ourselves and the world we cannot completely dominate or control, but that is an intimate part of ourselves- we breathe them, live, coevoluate with them. We act as a master of the Universe, but what are we? Bacterial and viral humans trying to dominate everything because we can’t dominate the non-human (or too much human?) part of ourselves? Born in France and living in Montreal, Canada, I am affiliated to the Speculative Life Lab Cluster, Milieux Institute for Arts Culture and Technology, Concordia University, Montreal, Qc, Canada, since 2016.