Suzette Bousema

Invisible to the naked eye, but threatened by our activities. How can we tap into the network of an underappreciated but crucial organism? The mycorrhizal fungal network is the largest living system that ever existed on Earth and plays a crucial role in ecosystems, carbon storage as well as our very existence. Commonly described as the ‘internet’, or the ‘brain’ of the forest, almost all plants are connected through this below-ground fungal network. Often referred to as a form of communication, plants “trade” carbon with the fungal network, improving access to nutrients, minerals and water. More than half of the carbon processed by plants during photosynthesis passes through mycorrhizae and is stored in soil.  This ancient symbiosis between plants and fungi is threatened by human activities, such as the use of fertilizers and pesticides, deforestation and change in land use. When I first discovered this collaboration between plants and fungi, I noticed how we tend to compare it to human structures, such as the internet or the brain. To a certain extent this helps us to stimulate empathy with, yet simultaneously limits our understanding of this relatively unknown phenomenon.

‘We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than we know about the soil underfoot’ –Da Vinci

This project was done in collaboration with soil scientist Nadia Soudzilovskaia and PhD students Riccardo Mancinelli, Weilin Huang & Chenguang Gao. The project is supported by MIAP Foundation and Mondriaan Fonds. In the summer Bousema will work at Textiellab Tilburg (NL) to create a weaved wall hanging that depicts the symbiosis between plants and fungi.  Follow her progress on her website: www.suzettebousema.nl and Instagram @suzettebousema If you would like to stay up to date on projects and exhibitions, send an email to suzette@bousema.eu

Knurl is a 3D printed electroacoustic instrument, designed by brazilian musician Rafaele Andrade, who studies at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. In collaboration Andrade and Bousema have created a compostable version of the instrument. This performance has been recorded at Bousema’s exhibition in Dutch national park De Kaapse Bossen in The Netherlands.

With this project Bousema aims to connect to the below-ground fungal network, using all the senses. In collaboration with perfumer Merle Bergers she is creating a scent that represents the fungal network.

This exhibition of Super Organism was on show from 22 May – 11 July 2021 in Dutch national park De Kaapse Bossen (NL).