Bacteria / Colonialist Cash
26 January- 1 March 2020, Fri - Sun 2-6PM
Opens 25 January 2020 at 7PM
Borderless Bacteria / Colonialist Cash discusses important
current aspects of biopolitics. By visualising microbiome landscapes
of banknotes, the project invites us to reflect about the interconnectedness
of ecological and economic exchanges. Wishing to lessen his carbon
footprint, artist Ken Rinaldo expressed the wish that the work be
made without his travelling. This work was first done during a residency
in 2017 at Cultivamos Cultura, Portugal. Some of the works in the
exhibition were created in December 2019 with students from the
Gustav-Freytag-Schule in Berlin-Reinickendorf as part of a collaboration
between the school, ALB and the DIY Hack the Panke collective.
recent attention has been given to the human microbiome, the microbes
which live on and within our bodies. These communities also exist
on most surfaces around us. When we touch objects, we exchange bacteria,
fungi and viruses, leaving some microbiota behind. It is no surprise
that one of the objects we touch most money is not
only a medium of economic but also microbial exchange. According
to a study conducted by the NYU Center for Genomics & Systems
Biology, 3000 types of bacteria were identified on dollar bills
from just one Manhattan bank.
Rinaldo, an established artist in the field of Bio and Postmedia
art, develops hybrid human-nonhuman ecologies. Borderless Bacteria
/ Colonialist Cash explores the hidden microbiome of money within
a critical framework that also sheds light on exchange and power.
Do Chinese Yuan and American Dollars share bacterial and fungal
micro-performative project is intriguingly simple in its set-up:
Various bills of international currency are displayed in large square
Petri dishes on enriched agar. Time plays a crucial role, as a microbial
landscape grows and realises itself over the course of several weeks.
Visitors to the exhibition can also explore the developing Petri
dishes with the aid of light boxes and a digital microscope.
On an aesthetic level, the iconography of the currency literally
loses face as microbial growth undermines the representational aspect
of the banknotes. The official character of money is subverted.
As its microbial nature comes to light, it appears far less representative:
a fine network of mycelia covers the head of George Washington on
a $1 note; on a 10 CHF note, Le Corbusier is no longer recognisable
due to bacterial growth.
Aesthetic and biopolitical aspects are closely linked: We are reminded
of the colonial roots of capitalism, when exchanged goods spread
smallpox, measles and influenza to aboriginal peoples in the Americas
and Australia, devastating local populations. The nonhuman has always
played a vital, if untold, role in our histories and the development
of our economic and cultural systems. "Paper money microbes
dont respect money or borders and travel freely both enhancing
and simultaneously challenging the collective human body, microbiome,
constitution, and post-colonial ecologies" remarks Rinaldo.
He refers here to both the symbolic memories of a colonialist past
that paper money possesses as well as emerging colonialist
presence, driven by both microbes and now psychometrics with data
analytics. As money is a potent signifier of identity, nationalism
and a symbolic medium of exchange, it also possesses constitutional
beliefs in iconic invocations of wealth and national trust. Money
implies all the attendant deities and symbols of nationalist power
In the exhibition we offer the recipients an opportunity to interact
with the project: By means of a digital microscope one can explore
both microscopic landscapes of bacterial and fungal colonies as
well as discover up-close the detailed engravings of numerous bank
notes. While observing the micro world of currencies, one
can simultaneously reflect the macro connections between
them on economic and biopolitical levels.
Rapp and Christian de Lutz (curators)
rear exhibition room visitors can read dialogues between Art Laboratory
Berlin and Rinaldo and others about what internationally active
artists can do to counter the emerging CO2 emissions caused by frequent
questionaire as .pdf
of the Vorspiel programme in partnership with the CTM and transmediale
the generous support of:
to Cultivamos Cultura | Marta De Menezes and Dr Luís Graça;
Dr. Mario Ramirez, Molecular Microbiology
& Infection, Instituto de Medicina Molecular in Lisbon, Portugal;
Prof. Amy Youngs; Dr. Adam Zaretsky.