In a world grappling with its own demise, Amsterdam’s famed Stedelijk Museum is offering a space where more life tends to die instead of grow; positively speaking. Mycelium! The silent architect of our ecosystem, weaving a web-like network of fungi that can burst into mushroom when the conditions are just right. From November 30th, 2023, up to January 25th, 2024, Opening Descent Into Fungal exhibition welcomes visitors to immerse in a multi-sensory, interactive celebration of the fascinating world of mycelium. It beckons the question: who is the host and who is the parasite?
How can we ever truly fathom the full depth of mycelium as mere distant observers? As the threefold exhibition unravels, a living art-piece emerges, the Mycelium Stage – an interactive and living representation of mycelium, demonstrating its ability to grow, adapt and respond to the environment.
Yet, this isn’t just a display of mycelial wonders, it’s an invitation for active participation, as we collectively tend to the ‘fungal floor’, a shared space where the mycelium responds to our presence. Here the human audience and the fungal inhabitants commingle: “The mycelium will respond to us being in the space together and will therefore carry a fragment of all of us whilst we internalise or embrace some of their networks. In addressing the human audience as well as the fungal, we are envisioning a world order on non-human grounds.”
Just beside the mycelium stage, presentations and performances from artists, thinkers, designers and poets spring to life. Venturing further into the fungal realm, behold a conceptual art video that captures the interplay of human artistry and mycelium growth. Here, we are privy to interviews with the creative directors that had fungi mingle with fashion. MycoWorks, a biotech company behind ‘Reishi’, the mycelium alternative to leather, joins forces with Dutch brand, Yume Yume, and together they create a head-to-toe custom look. This union birthed a mushroom hat, Yume Yume fisherman boots and the Grown By Nature Trench Coat.
As we circle back to the central question of who serves as host and who assumes the role of parasite, navigate your way into Stedelijk Museum and draw your own conclusion!
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