September 18, 2015 / 12:42 PM / 3 years ago

Bacteria light up Rome's Colosseum in 'message of peace'

ROME (Reuters) - A magnified image of bacteria that live on the surface of Rome’s Colosseum lights up the outer wall of the ancient amphitheatre this week in what German artist Sabine Kacunko calls a message of peace.

Kacunko has collected tiny organisms from the northwest side of the almost 2,000-year-old structure, put the samples under a microscope and is projecting their image onto the recently restored facade each night from Sept 17 to 19.

“I’m very happy to give the smallest life form - bacteria - this wonderful platform to communicate,” Kacunko said on a terrace overlooking the ruin-strewn Imperial Forums in the heart of the Italian capital.

“It’s a peace message. I think we could learn a lot from the bacteria,” she said. “In their own species they build up a network, they corroborate and communicate and maybe this is why they are the oldest life form.”

Berlin-based Kacunko, 51, became interested in the tiny particles in part because she was in New York City at the time of the 2001 attack when two airliners hijacked by Al Qaeda militants toppled the American city’s Twin Towers.

The collapse of the two buildings in towering infernos released huge amounts of dust and particulates into the atmosphere and covered the city streets.

Dealing with Italian bureaucracy meant this week’s installation took some two years to come to fruition, but Kacunko said it was worth the wait.

She said the wealth of bacteria on the Colosseum’s surface made it the only place in the world she wanted to create the “living light sculpture” which she has called “Invincible”.

The lumpy orbs and delicate strings hovering serenely over the stone arches should also help viewers understand human life and health, said Kacunko, who has worked with scientists in Germany and Denmark and thinks their research on the Roman monument may have uncovered a new type of microbe.

“It is more healthy to heal with bacteria than with antibiotics,” she said.

Editing by Michael Roddy and Hugh Lawson

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