When Microbes Dream at Ectopia – Lisbon, Portugal

Jennifer Willet
September 11th 2022
Ectopia – Experimental Art Laboratory

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).


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.

IOTA and INCUBATOR Art Lab present their 6th Bioart Kitchen Hangout, which follows Dr. Willet from her studio in Windsor, Ontario, Canada to Ectopia – Laboratório de Arte Experimental in Lisbon, Portugal. Managing international customs, high emotions, and multiple funding agencies, Willet installED a complex bioart exhibition in 7 days, in time for the annual FEMeeting: Women in Art, Science, and Technology conference. Sharing with audiences 7+ tips for successfully designing and installing a bioart exhibition under high pressure circumstances.



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.

Special thanks to the touring managers at IOTA Institute. To learn about IOTA visit their website https://iotainstitute.com/

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, , Brodie Macphail.

Image credit
1-4) Jennifer Willet. When Microbes Dream. Image Credit: Jennifer Willet, Ectopia Lab 2022.
5) IOTA Institute & INCUBATOR Art Lab7 TIPS FOR DESIGNING A BIOART EXHIBITION! Bio Art Kitchen Hangout with Jennifer Willet. Video Editing/ Footage: Justin Elliott. Video footage: María Angélica Ectopia Lab, 2022, UWAG 2020
6-7) Jennifer Willet, Baroque Biology: Paper Theatre, 2019. Image Credit: Justin Elliot.


When Microbes Dream is presented by IOTA Institute (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada) and INCUBATOR Art Lab (Windsor, Ontario, Canada). The exhibition takes place at Ectopia, an Experimental Art Laboratory and exhibition venue directed by world-renowned bioartist Marta de Menezes, which opened in Lisbon in 2021. Jennifer Willet’s exhibition will be the first solo exhibition hosted in the new space, in conjunction with the first in-person FEMeeting event (Women in Art, Science, and Technology) to take place since 2019 with 100+ delegates from around the world…