Bioart Exhibition

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The Exhibition opened: Thursday 20 July 2023 @ 18:30 for 19:00

FADA gallery, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture Building

Bunting road campus, Auckland Park, university of Johannesburg


The exhibition was opened by professor Letlokwa Mpedi

Vice chancellor, university of Johannesburg


To celebrate its long-awaited launch, the Creative Microbiology Research Colab (CMRC) wa§s thrilled to present the first exhibition of biotechnological art (or bioart) to be held in South Africa and on the African continent. The CMRC is an inter-faculty collaboration dedicated to producing creative work located at the interface between microbiology, visual representation, and creative practice. Founded by Prof Leora Farber, Director of the Visual Identities in Art and Design (VIAD) Research Centre, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, and Prof Tobias Barnard, Director of the Water and Health Research Centre (WHRC), Faculty of Health Sciences, the CMRC is based on the conviction that bioart holds enormous potential to generate new insights, perspectives, scholarly and indigenous knowledges that arise from, and pertain to, an African context. The exhibition also marked the launch of the CMRC biolaboratory located in the FADA FABLAB. It is a fully equipped microbiology lab, which offers creative practitioners access to the kinds of specialised scientific equipment and expertise required to engage with ‘wet biology practices.


Bioart involved artmaking practices that deal with the application of biotechnologies in which ‘life’ – meaning living and non/living matter – is used as raw material and subject for artistic production, using (and abusing) scientific practices and protocols. The exhibition featured bioart produced by members of the CMRC namely, VIAD and WHRC Directors Leora Farber and Tobias Barnard; bioart-laboratory manager Xylan de Jager; VIAD Artist-in-Residence Brenton Maart; as well as VIAD Research Associates Nelisiwe Xaba; Nadine Botha; Miliswa Ndziba; Nathaniel Stern; and Nolan Oswald Dennis. These creative practitioners explored innovative ways of working with existing biomaterials and producing new ones; introduce speculative methods of working with living and non/living matter that allow for risk and experimentation; and use interdisciplinary approaches to arrive at research findings that are rooted in practical processes. By charting practices that blur the boundaries between practitioner and medium, author and collaborator, whilst engaging theory to explore how microbes might be read as agents in decolonial practice, they enact the interspecies entanglements put forward by post-humanist, post-anthropocentric, and New Feminist Materialist theorists who propose a decentering of the white, heterosexual male and Eurocentric notions of speciesism.


The exhibition foregrounds the intermeshing of human and microbial life to create awareness of how humans are in constant contact with the microbial world. The artworks were made using various microbes – including bacteria and mycelia – and other living and non/living matter to render the invisible visible. The works point to how our bodies are an ecosystem, enmeshed with the living and non/living matter that is inside us and surrounds us, and that microbes are simultaneously external and internal – in many ways, we are one and the same.


The exhibition is accompanied by a digital catalogue, as well as a physical, online and hybrid public programme, featuring the artists and experts across a range of fields in the Humanities, Social and Health Sciences, as well as those working in Visual Art and Design disciplines. An exciting exploration of how physical, digital, technological, and biological worlds might come together to realise new ways of being in the world that could contribute to a re-imagining of an Africanised future.



The exhibition run: 21 July to 19 August 2023


For more information, visit or contact:

Eugene Hon: / call 011 559 1386

Dineo Diphofa: / call 011 559 1386