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Beings 

Pathogen mutations

My interest in microbes, and the wavering diet of our ancestors began with the birth of my first child some thirty years ago. During my research for ingredients I stumbled across academic papers providing evidence that our Paleolithic ancestors collected and stored plants with medicinal qualities, and perhaps used them to treat bacterial infections, inflammatory diseases… I read pubic lice have accompanied Humankind for three million years, and learnt that it is only since the Neolithic era contagious diseases accelerated at equal pace to urbanisation. This interest or hobby resulted in two poetic self published books, further books and exhibitions. 

Dipping into health and diet issues I appreciate the fact that food, the lack of it; disease, and the memory of it; is inscribed into the essence of who and what we are; and that since the first cell developed, microbes guided life along the path of evolution, shaping it, us – descendents of survivors, our bodies and our minds, with terrors transcribed in social taboos, rituals and folklore. 

Some of the microbes overleaf began with an invitation by virologists to create pathogens for a book. No sooner had we started our partnership ended, yet I had been “contaminated” enough to  continue exploring different ways of presenting them. 

I propose microbes as beautiful inanimate matter, “Beings”. I imagine nature’s (including humans’) threads of DNA and RNA intrinsically entwined with viruses and bacteria, all evolving in response to the others’ advances or retreats, in a curious game of tug-of-war. I find it difficult to understand the complexity of microbes, how as nonliving or inanimate beings they change form constantly – millions of times a day,  how some are so efficient at resisting and evading virologists they are steps ahead with their uncanny super kind of intelligence without having a brain. 

As an artist (not a scientist), I have the liberty to imagine theses shape shifters differently to what they may apear under a microscope. Evolving through the artistic process of creation, I started drawing on paper. I further incorporated macro and nano images of organic material I found in my garden, studio, and travels, suggesting microbes are constantly about us, not always the nasty few in this series, but also the other billions we ignore. This matter, a pâté of my visual alphabet is meant to be a parallel to microbes physical structures, atoms, molecules, and amino acids – building blocks with infinite evolving forms. Becoming fascinated by viruses complex repetitive patterns and eccentric forms of bacteria, I continued by recreating their mathematical grids into digital layers. 

I am very fortunate to say that Covid-19 is the first pandemic I experienced close at hand in a way that had a major impact on  my life. Losing people during this time inspired me to create images beyond the obvious by evoking burial wreaths with the symmetries of Coronaviruses as a guide to place flowers. 

 

Images include a selection of:

Archaic bacteria and viruses 

Iconic pathogens through history

Sexually transmitted diseases

Viral hemorrhagic fevers

Influenza

Coronaviruses

Tirage photo ultraHD sous Plexi
40 x 40 cm minimum to 120 x 120 cm maximum
2020/23