toward a resurgent symbiosis

installation at Open Space Visitor Center

for ART PARK 21

We are all Lichen:
toward a resurgent symbiosis

Lichens are made ofat least one algal or cyanobacterial partner in symbiosis with two fungalspecies. These individuals create a sustained and balanced micro ecosystem. Inscience classes, we often learn of symbiotic relationships like freshwatermussels to host fish and rhinos to oxpecker birds. We concentrate on obvioussymbiotic relationships, neglecting those of our own body and those moreinvisible to our eye. Human bodies are made up of more single-celled organismsthan our own cells, introducing us to the possibility of being human-bacterialsymbiotic micro ecosystems.

Using embroiderytechniques, I will create 10 banners featuring lichen “maps” on a variety ofmaterials including transparent film, reflective film, and cotton representingfibrous qualities from transparent to opaque. Each banner will be 6ftx4ft inorder to magnify the potential relationships built into the lichen maps whilestill allowing for intimate viewing. The banners will be cut into 6 inch stripsconnected at the top, allowing visitors to walk under the banner, letting itbrush on their bodies. The banners will be hung on a processional structure tobe explored with a small booklet with project information. The material varietyrepresents our disparate understandings of naturefrom something that is outside of the human, something that belongs to thehuman domain, to something that the human is a constituent of. I consider theembroidered image to be a map, as maps reflect delineations and overlaps inspace. In lichen maps, I can create points of clarity in the lichen where thespecies mingle, where they grow, and how they endeavor together.

By interchanging various lichen relationshipswith those of the human to their bacteria and the world to the human, we candislodge hegemonic ideas of human individualism that leads to issues ofenvironmental crisis, injustice, and a lack of empathy and compassion betweenhumans with other humans, and humans with their environment.

Using Donna Haraway’sbook Staying with the Trouble, thisproject will investigate the interrelationships of beings to one another, aswell as the ways in which all parts of nature, including humans, createtogether triumphant and resonant ecosystems that have merged and alteredthroughout time. Human-made climate change is accelerating the rates of change.How will our infinite symbiotic relationships transform? When one species ofbeing extirpates or expires, how will it’s partners react, and when mightfurther reaching creatures perish due to reverberating consequences? How can anecosystem recuperate? We are all lichen asksus to consider these questions in relationship to ourselves and our embodiedsurroundings. How can we create-together for a resurgent world?

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