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Portal Tables by The Decorators and Stanley Picker Gallery

Exhibition / Installation

Partner Programme

18   —    19, 22   —    26 Sep 2021

Digital, Multi-Disciplinary Design

Victoria and Albert Museum

Cromwell Road

London

SW7 2RL

This project reflects on the paradoxical way in which the pandemic has both vilified microbes and prompted a renewed interest in homemade practices of nurturing microbial life. Taking the idea of commensality and extending it beyond the human, Portal Tables considers how microbial bodies participate in such encounters.

Created amidst a pandemic and climate crisis, this project reflects on the paradoxical way in which the pandemic has both vilified microbes and prompted a renewed interest in homemade practices of nurturing microbial life. On display is a video-essay and Sofa-Bread – part of a line of furniture that explores domestic interspecies intimacy in food-making. Sofa-Bread is designed to provide moments of conviviality across humans and bacteria during the fermentation process involved in making bread. Food fermentation gained a momentum in the past year of social isolation, with people sharing home-made recipes through social media. The hormonal joy produced by bacterial communities in the human gut serves as a substitute for the social joy of in-real-life human communities. Meanwhile, a growing area of research has been exploring bacteria as a potential resource for plastic recycling, opening up ethical questions regarding the use of microbial life as a solution for human pollution.