Bacterial Conversations

BACTERIAL CONVERSATIONS by Alix Roederer, BFA student, Concordia University

“This piece aims to disrupt the general feeling of dissociation and lack of responsibility for others that defines modern society… making strangers have deep and meaningful conversations through the very intimate medium of their bacteria.
These bacterial conversations revolve around the subject of trauma, as I believe individual and societal identities are constructed around, within or in avoidance of past traumas.

 The piece consists of an event where bacteria are collected from zones of trauma on the body of the participant and used to inoculate Petri dishes. People who are survivors of the same trauma will have a bacterial discussion in the same Petri dish. It is also possible for the audience to make conversations happen between different lived violences, for example between systemic racism and rape, as the participants decide what Petri dish they choose to inoculate with their bacteria. A survey is also used to collect data in the form of stories.


Beautiful cosmic patterns are created by the bacteria around these hard subjects. My work revolves around the idea of time as an accumulation of wounds, of selves as topographies of scars and of identities as constructed around, within or in avoidance of traumas. I use the human body as imagery because it is a complete and functioning system that everybody experiences and therefore can serve as a representation of any other societal or metaphysical structure.”


This project was selected for presentation at the RIPA Festival 2018. “RIPA (rencontre interuniversitaire de performance actuelle) is an annual non-profit event run by volunteer students whose aim is to promote the emerging performative practices from the Quebec university system and neighbouring areas. RIPA wishes to develop Quebec’s performance networks by fostering exchanges between students, audiences and the art community.” More on RIPA here.

The artist wishes to thank WhiteFeather at the Speculative Life BioLab at the Milieux Institute for research technical support.