Sensing Holobiont
Flavourful Rituals for Metabolic Companions

A performance at Medical Museion 13th January 2023 by the artist duo Baum & Leahy.

About the project

What happens when we realize that we never eat alone, but always eat together with, for, and thanks to others species? To honor humans’ symbiotic relationship with the microbes in our bodies, the performance Sensing Holobiont – Flavourful Rituals for Metabolic Companions explored what it means to understand oneself as an ecosystem in the intersection between art, food and science. The performance was a result of a close collaboration between Medical Museion, the artist duo Baum & Leahy and Center for Biosustainability, DTU.

We are many – an ecosystem of trillion bodies
We are an ecosystem of trillion bodies. This is the general idea contained in the concept of the ‘holobiont’. A holobiont is an ecological unit consisting of a ‘host organism’ – animal, plant or fungi – and the associated microbes, viruses and smaller holobionts living in and on it. The ecological, evolutionary and daily dynamics of holobionts have reached new interests among several big scientific disciplines. But how can these unseen vibrant exchanges between species be explored on a sensorial and emotional level? What are the possibilities in understanding the concept by working from the intersection between art, food and science? These were the central questions for the interdisciplinary performance project Sensing Holobiont – Flavourful Rituals for Metabolic Companions.

Our holobiont selves
By combining novel gastronomy, interactive installation and microbiome research, the work asked: How might a multisensorial ceremony help us to recognize and realise our holobiont selves? And how might this realization change our relationship to our bodies, to eating, and to planetary health? Through a series of edible encounters, the project examined the various holobiont concepts such as symbiosis, cometabolism, exchange, and transformation, and invited the visitors to explore the act of feeding the many.

Afterlife of the project
While the project ended in January 2023, the microbial exchanges happening during the performance will continue its afterlife in the bodies of the visitors. In terms of research, Medical Museion will now look into the visitor experiences during the performance. If you have questions or are curious to learn more about the project, feel free to contact the project leader and main curator, Associate Professor Louise Whiteley,

Photo in top: Rune Svenningsen

Becoming holobiont

The performance took place in Medical Museion’s new exhibition space Appendix. The collective dining encounter included interactive, sensorially stimulating elements such as wax cups, biomaterial cutlery, slime-filled pools connected by tubes, bubbling glass vessels, pre- and probiotic foods, and choreographed movements between guides and guests within the installation. In each ritual, there was an accompanying text. These texts were recipes, poems, prayers, formulas, incantations for the holobiont becomings that happened as the guests ate.


Sensing Holobiont – Flavourful Rituals for Metabolic Companions is a new work by artist duo Baum & Leahy in collaboration with culinary researchers Kim Wejendorp & Dr Josh Evans. PhD fellow Joana Formosinho and Professor Rob Dunn contributed conceptual and scientific input, following from their collaboration with Baum & Leahy on Cometabolise: A Holobiont Dinner in 2021. Associate professor and curator Louise Whiteley facilitated both projects under Microbes on the Mind at Medical Museion, and contributed to conceptual development.

Project coordinators: Cecilie Glerup and Simone Cecilie Pedersen. Co-creating assistant: Ella Yolande. Assistant chef: Nurdin Topham. Creative Producer: Anna Firbank. Soundscape: room 1: Ella Yolande, main room: Sofie Birch.

Video: Tobias Horvath


Project leader and main curator: Associate Professor Louise Whiteley,, +45 2112 6712

Supported by

The project is supported by the Velux grant Microbes on the Mind, The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR) at the University of Copenhagen, Sustainable Food Innovation at The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability (DTU Biosustain) and Statens Kunstfond.