Governing Bodies


One of the project’s gurus: Stig Bengmark


This project has developed out of a collective investigation called The Nature Inside. It is still in its infancy, so excuse us if it is not 100 per cent coherent yet. We will get there in due time!

We are a pan-Nordic group of artists from many disciplines of different ages who work together with established academics from the Natural Sciences. Together we share a fascination for microbes and how our increased knowledge about them is changing the understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. We take our starting point in contemporary medical research on microorganisms and people like researcher Stig Bengmark who promotes eating habits that support the human microbiota (the microbes whom we live in symbiosis with), biologist Lynn Margulis who has shown that symbiosis is just as important as competition in evolution and political theorist Elizabeth Povinelli who discusses the humans relationship to living and non living organisms. They all underline that our understanding of how our bodies function and what a human being is, is changing rapidly. The view on human beings is shifting from being seen as an individual, to being perceived as an ecosystem.

Every human being has over one kilogram of microorganisms in his/her gut. We live in symbiosis with them and they are necessary for digestion and other life maintaining processes. They affect our mood, energy and probably also to what extent we are curious and social. They help to facilitate communication between gut and brain. So far we know only around two per cent of their functions and capabilities. But one thing is certain: they can live without us, but without them we die.

The interdisciplinary group that runs this project has met numerous times in different places in Sweden in 2019-20. We have organised both private and public events. We will now continue to meet and to go deeper into our individual and collective research and at the same time spread our knowledge and experiences in the Nordic region. We will also interact with a broader network of artists and researchers and have made contacts with new collaborators in Norway, Finland and Denmark.

The project will both take the shape of further private and public events in Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Germany. In order to make the most of these meetings, we will start by developing the publication “Governing Bodies: An Interdisciplinary investigation into microbes and their effect on human identity,” which will also be a central tool in the public and private workshops.



Carola Uehlken (Curator/artist) Elias Arnér (Professor in Biochemistry) Giada Lo Re (xyz.PhD) Carima Neusser (Choreographer), MaiBritt Giacobini (Child psychiatrist MD, PhD) Per Hüttner (Visual artist/musician) Oskar Gudmundsson (Writer), Adriaan Samson (Writer) Freddie Ross (Art historian) Emil Krog (Visual artist), Simone Bang Jørgensen (Visual artist), Kurt Johannesen (Visual artist), Sara Gurevitsch (Choreographer), Marja Nurminen (Visual artist) and Saber Rhaleb (Musician).