Just as the stomach and viscera are extensions of our brain and nervous system, so too is the planet filled with organisms that metabolize its ecosystems. Blankets of fungi cover the intimate subsoil of forests with mycelium, interconnecting trees and other beings in an ample digestive system that can reach an extension of 970 hectares in a single body, as is the case in the mountains of Oregon. Elsewhere, we discover 420 million year old fossils of fungi - the prototaxites - which have populated earthly landscapes since the Paleozoic era. We study the cellular intelligence of slime mold, a curious matter that makes adaptive spatial decisions according to its survival conditions, developing intelligent pathways which may contribute to the development of artificial intelligence systems.
These fungal universes ferment our imaginary, broadening our understanding of bodily liminality. At the same time they remind us that all ecosystems are interrelated in a symbiotic manner, under a condition of mutual co-development, in which different species form assemblages and generate new symbiotic entities. This reframing of our perception of beings and the world destabilizes our ecological conceptions, reconfiguring the notions of parasite and host, prey and predator, unity and community. We are invited for example, through the work of Peter Zin, to intervene in our surroundings in a conscious way, taking into consideration the lessons of the Native American Iroquois people, whose Constitution defends the law of the "Seven Generations" recommending that our life and work decisions should take into account the benefit of the seventh generation to follow us. But these will not be the only lessons that such a sensory and metabolic dérive inspires.
A Tale of Ingestion, inaugurates the summer solstice with an exhibition that includes works exploring metabolic fictions and the cosmology of matter itself. This invitation gathers different generations of artists and poets who navigate between psychedelia, ecology, abstraction and romantic conceptualism. The triggering image and figure of thought is the Egyptian goddess Nut, who metamorphizes into a cow and swallows the sun, moon and cosmos at night to give birth to them the next day, thus digesting the whole universe cyclically.
In the first room, we are presented with a large painting-installation by Alma Heikkilä (1984, FI), titled Pollen grains, fungal spores, bacteria, mycelium, cysts, algal filaments and spores, lichens, insects and their parts, plants and animal tissues and several other microorganisms (2017) which refers to small particles invisible to the human eye that float in the air and travel through our lungs. Alma Heikkilä’s practice is developed at several scales, from the pictorial – in her explorations of abstraction through immersion in close- ups – to the ecological – in her work with the Finnish association Mustarinda, involving artists and researchers in projects to promote the ecological revitalization of society.
Downstairs, we also find pleural sculptures by David Horvitz (19??, US), made of blown glass containing A single breath of air (2016). An earlier version of the work was produced for the Volcano Extravaganza festival on the island of Stromboli in 2016, and the spheres were thrown into the night waters of the Mediterranean in a full moon ritual conducted during a boat journey. Creating a conceptual multiverse, where new species can couple and develop their habitat, these aether sculptures hide throughout the exhibition space. It is worth remembering the artist's obsession with mushroom collecting and plant names, and how directly this contact with nature in his daily life contributes to the vital matter and lexicon of his body of work.
Lupo Borgonovo (1985, IT) presents two sets of sculptures, Ornithology I (2015) and S (2015). His works are often elaborated as stream of consciousness exercises, testing the limits of materiality while defying symbolic perceptions. In S (2015), we are entangled in a series of viscous casts with impressions of different types of animal skin, upon which we can project animals, or our own guts. In these sculptures, the distinction between the exterior and interior of the mould is diffuse, appealing to the visitor's imagination and navigation of his/her own interstitium.
On the table, we find a bronze and marble sculpture by Carlos Monléon (1983, ES). This is a prototype for a wood fired oven reconfigured in the form of the digestive system and viscera. This prototype is part of a series of sculptures that the artist is developing following his research on ingestion, fermentation and bacterial universes, which materially elaborate his reflections on the digestive system and distributed cognition.
Mumtazz (1970, PT) presents a series of drawings with imaginary bodies and kaleidoscopic figures. These are part of an extensive body of graphic work which is rarely shown, where the artist develops her pictorial and visual lexicon through a poetic reconfiguration of the real, based on the symbiotic borders of metamorphosing matter. With kinetic preponderance, these figures take into account the plural and oneiric universe of animation, from Paradjanov to Švankmajer, but also report on the archetypal journeys to be found in the writings and paintings of Jodorowsky, Jung, and Khalo.
Peter Zin,(1947, SE) is a tree planter, poet, and free jazz musician. His talent for improvisation has passed through as distant geographies as Senegal and Canada. His teachings draw inspiration from the generation of Buckminster Fuller and Stewart Brand, and have influenced activists and ecologists across the Iberian peninsula, introducing methods of permaculture and ecological revision that explore the resilience of the Earth and its resources in a conscious way. On the wall of the gallery is displayed a selection of his extensive collection of flag-manifestos, that will be shown in full at the 4th edition of the Istanbul Design Biennial in September 2018. Accompanying this, we present Visible Hand, a recent poetry book, which includes a refined compendium of ideas and ecological provocations.
Margarida Mendes (Lisbon, 1985) is a curator, educator and activist. In 2009 she founded The Barber Shop project space in Lisbon, hosting a programme of seminars and residencies dedicated to artistic and philosophical research. Exploring the overlap between cybernetics, philosophy, sciences and experimental film, her personal research investigates the dynamic transformations of the environment and its impact on societal structures and cultural production. In 2016 she joined the curatorial team of the 11th Gwangju Biennale and developed the pilot program of escuelita, an informal school at Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo (CA2M), Madrid. Currently she is co-curating a school and exhibition on the metabolism of digestion for the 4th Istanbul Design Biennale A School of Schools, opening this September.