Jennifer Willet: When Microbes Dream at Ectopia (Lisbon, Portugal)

An art installation in a dark art gallery. A table is surrounded by artificial flowers, small plastic birds and animals, dishes, lab materials, and a microscope. In the foreground of the image is the head of a life-sized plastic deer painted turquoise.

IOTA Institute is pleased to be touring manager for When Microbes Dream, a solo exhibition by Canadian bioartist Jennifer Willet, which opens at Ectopia in Lisbon, Portugal on 11 September 2022. When Microbes Dream premiered at Kapelica Gallery (Ljubljana, Slovenia) in Oct 2021, and continues on its European tour. This exhibition coincides with FEMeeting, an international consortium of women in art, science and technology (11-17 Sept 2022). 

Two art installations in a dark art gallery with black walls. Mounted on the wall on the left is a series of clear tubes in a large figure-eight formation, and underneath them is a wall collage of vinyl decals. On the right is an ornate puppet theatre on wheels, with turquoise curtains and a blue owl perched on top.

When Microbes Dream introduces audiences to allegorical visions of biotechnology as a technology of abundance, rooted in interspecies collaboration and bespoke ecologies. With this exhibition, the artist reimagines laboratory aesthetics as bountiful, feminine, and gaudy in direct contradiction to scientific norms. Willet presents several works including live specimens in conjunction with performative sculpture, large-scale installations, and a series of digital prints.

Each artwork presents a complex vision of organisms large and small (mammals, microbes, plants, and insects) working in collaboration to present biotech processes to human audiences. This work de-prioritizes the human scientist as the dominant organism working within a robust laboratory ecology. Rather, presents the daydreams of non-human organisms living, reproducing, performing and dying within laboratory settings.

When Microbes Dream presents a feminist science-fiction where biotechnology manifests interspecies collaboration, reproduction, theatre and storytelling as a means to re-imagine our shared biotech future.

Meet Jennifer Willet

Headshot of artist Jennifer Willet

Jennifer Willet is an internationally recognized artist in the emerging field of bio art. Her research resides at the intersection of art and science, and explores notions of representation, the body, ecologies, and interspecies interrelations in the biotechnological field.  She engages in performance, installation, photography and sculpture based artistic practices, community arts and social practice, and philosophy of science, media studies, science and technology studies, combined with protocols and life forms from the biological sciences. She is the Director of INCUBATOR Art Lab and a Canada Research Chair in Art, Science and Ecology at the University of Windsor. 

Shop Exhibition Prints

Four framed photographs in a grid formation on a black wall. Each composition features baroque wallpaper collages featuring petri dishes, and illustrations of cells.
When Microbes Dream, solo exhibition by Jennifer Willet at Kapelica Gallery (Ljubljana, Slovenia), 2021. Photo: Hana Josic.


This exhibition is produced in partnership with IOTA Institute, INCUBATOR Art Lab, Ectopia, and FEMeeting. This project gratefully acknowledges the support of the University of Windsor, Canada Research Chair Program, Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Trade Commissioners at the Embassy of Canada to Portugal, and the Province of Nova Scotia’s Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage. 

When Microbes Dream Project Assistants: Billie Mclaughlin, Domenica Mediati, Angela Awada, Jude Abu Zaineh, Lisha Laing, Aleeza Tariq, Kadila Adili, Phil Habashy, Justin Elliott, Michael Lucenkiw, Gillian Hughes, Luke Maddiford, Ashley Hemmings, Megan Andrews, Hadia Nadeem, Lyndsay Mckay.

The backs of two people staring at a wall-mounted art installation. Mounted on a black wall is a series of clear tubes in a large figure-eight formation, and underneath them is a wall collage of vinyl decals. The pink, red, and white decals show different stages of cell mitosis.

Jennifer Willet

Artist, Director of INCUBATOR Art Lab

Dr. Jennifer Willet, Director of INCUBATOR Lab, and Associate Professor in the School of Creative Arts, at the University of Windsor (Canada) is an interdisciplinary artist and curator working in art and technology, bioart and social practice genres.

Marta Menezes

Director of Ectopia

Marta de Menezes is a Portuguese artist (b. Lisbon, 1975) with a degree in Fine Arts by the University in Lisbon, a MSt in History of Art and Visual Culture by the University of Oxford, and a PhD candidate at the University of Leiden. She has been exploring the intersection between Art and Biology,... Read More

The Incubator Art Lab

Presenting Partner, Bioart Lab

A studio/lab to facilitate ongoing bioart research and production for INCUBATOR art lab members at The University of Windsor