Bacterial Art Starts a Debate on Money and International Borders

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João Bettencourt Bacelar. The New Art Fest ’17. Opening. Installation view: Ken Rinaldo.

We have been told over and over that bacteria are everywhere around us, especially on your smartphone screen. But most of us haven’t stopped to reflect on the fact — and consequences — of bacteria being all over our money.

A scientific study by the New York University called the Dirty Money Project revealed in 2014 the presence of 3,000 different types of bacteria living on 80 $1 banknotes circulating in New York. These bacteria came from human skin, mouths, and genitalia, and, like money, they could be freely transported and exchanged across the world.

Artist Ken Rinaldo explores the many consequences of bacteria living on money in his project Borderless Bacteria; Colonialist Cash. Rinaldo cultured microbes on agar plates containing banknotes from currencies around the world that were collected at the international border at the Lisbon Airport. After letting them grow for two weeks, the pieces are exhibited to spark the debate on bacteria, money, and borders.

Works from Borderless Bacteria; Colonialist Cash New Art Festival are currently on show at the in Lisbon until November 30th and will be at FACTT in Berlin from November 29th.

Read more on LABIOTECH.EU

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