Natural Dependencies

Opening: 15 October, 18:00 – 22:00
16 – 31 October 2021 (open Friday – Sunday 13:00-18:00h)


Natural Dependencies is a multimedia exhibition about the connectivity of all living things, using mycelium as a metaphor.

In the exhibition, we highlight the apparent fragility of relationships around us, both social as well as natural relationships, and also question this apparent division. Many creatures in nature depend on one another – and this has become painfully visible in recent ecological destruction.

Fungi are the masters of adaptability, and their abilities reach far beyond our current comprehension. Sometimes they play a connecting role, bringing organisms together through huge below-ground mycelium networks, sometimes they decompose what’s no longer alive ultimately to create new life again. It is undeniable that we would not be alive on this planet today if it wasn’t for fungi bringing plants to land from water ages ago.

Oftentimes fungi confuse us and break our definitions of what an individual is. A lot of the time we tend to focus on boundaries rather than our connections, in research as well as in culture. It is socially encouraged to become as independent as possible throughout your lifetime, dependency on another person or object can be seen as a weakness. We think that by acknowledging these moments of connection and how valuable they are, we can become more appreciative of what is around us and have a better sense of belonging.

From filtration systems and mushroom inks to the fungal network and a scent inspired by the communication between plants and fungi; all works in the exhibition feature mycelium in one way or the other. The exhibiting artists are Catherine Ostraya, Merle Bergers, Sophie Steengracht & Suzette Bousema.



Catherine Ostraya – Mycofiltracao (2021)

Mycofiltracao is a video work made during a residency earlier this year in Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal. It showcases the making of a home-made fungi filter, consisting of mycelium, straw and the entirety of her hair. The object was placed in a local river to filter the water from petrol and heavy metals. The work is a local intervention in the ecosystem of the village, as well as an attempt to use our bodies for remediation in the most tangible of ways. The result is a collaboration between the biomaterial of human and fungi, and a personal act of piety.


Suzette Bousema – Super Organism (2021)

Super Organism is a multimedia project about the below-ground fungal network through which almost all plants are connected. This symbiosis between plant and fungi is called ‘mycorrhiza’ (derived from Greek, ‘mukès’ (fungus) and ‘rhiza’ (root). The photographs show scientific cultures of ectomycorrhizal fungi, which grow as a blanket around plant roots. The weaved tapestry is based on a microscopic photograph of a plant root, with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi inside of it. This type of mycorrhizal fungi penetrates the plant roots and is made visible by scientists, using a blue pigment which only sticks to the fungi. 

Thanks to soil scientist Nadia Soudzilovskaia & PhD students Riccardo Mancinelli, Weilin Huang & Chenguang Gao (LU). Thanks to the support of Fentener van Vlissingen Fonds, MIAP Foundation & Mondriaan Fonds. The soundscapes are made in collaboration with musician Rafaele Andrade (KNURL). 


Merle Bergers – Understory mycorrhiza (2021)

Understory mycorrhiza is an immersive scent on interconnectivity, inspired by the entangled life that takes place underneath the forest floor. Representing mycelium, roots, mosses, the decay of organic material and the regeneration of soil, the fragrance was built up out of plant materials and molecules extracted from the soil and fungi. Understory mycorrhiza was created in collaboration with Suzette Bousema, on the occasion of her multimedia project Super Organism.


Sophie Steengracht – Fruiting bodies (2021)

Fruiting bodies is a drawing inspired by the rapid overnight growth and decay of diverse forms of fungi. It is made with ink extracted from Boletus edulis (English: cep, penny bun, porcino or porcini) and Coprinopsis atramentaria, commonly known as the common ink cap or inky cap mushroom.
The title of the exhibition was also made by Sophie, using mushroom inks.





Catherine Ostraya, Merle Bergers, Sophie Steengracht & Suzette Bousema

Organised by

Catherine Ostraya & Suzette Bousema


Ju-An Hsieh

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