Body of Us

Body of Us turns a microscope on the bacterial traces that we all leave behind, and explores whether new forms of social relationship can create a more ethical society.

“Any room coalesces with the beings that are in it,” says Body of Us curator Rebekka Kiesewetter. “Bacteria from building materials and human bodies interreact and grow in an unforeseeable manner, and so create new relationships between body and space.” In Body of Us, this process is illustrated by a vast petri dish containing bacteria from the room and the people who have visited it. 

The installation, Kiesewetter says, invites visitors to question their own ways of building relationships. “The petri dish is a symbol, a way to show that we are intrinsically related to the beings and matter that surround us, and to rethink what constitutes us as human beings. It is a means to make visitors rethink their own relationships, and the motivations behind them.”

 The work also invites visitors to reflect on the potential of new forms of social bond to lead to a more ethical, balanced society. “For us, friendship is a way to imagine a new horizon of living together,” says Kiesewetter. “Who are ‘we’ when we talk about ‘us’? We need to recognise that every ‘we’ generates exclusion, defining something as foreign or alien.” The designers propose that we expand our search for friendly bonds –given the environmental challenges we face, perhaps even beyond humankind.

The micro-scale investigation of bodies and space is interwoven with an audio work that comprises a series of short poetic, scientific and essayistic excerpts, drawing connections between the bacteria and the broader topic of friendship reimagined. A publication, which is available in the space and on the project’s website, further explores the diversity of friendship and its potential to offer up new ways to live, work and connect.


  • Administering Body: Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia in collaboration with Presence Switzerland and the Embassy of Switzerland in the UK. 
  • Designers: Jamie Allen, Paul Boshears, Morgan Brown, Julia Freihoff, Bernhard Garnicnig, Corinne Gisel, Fabian Harb, Nina Jaeger, Rebekka Kiesewetter, Kaja Kusztra, Vanessa Lorenzo, Matthias Maurer, Raphaëlle Mueller,  Nina Paim, Lukas Popp, Fabian Ritzi, Maximilian Thoman, Kirsty White
  • Curator: Rebekka Kiesewetter
  • Supporting Body: The Swiss Cultural Fund UK