(Re-)Gaining Ecological Futures

Curated by Berit Fischer

Image by Ute Lindenbeck

Mycopoetics

With: Alistair Alexander, Katherine Ball, Ulrike Bernard, Olive Bieringa, David Bloom, Monika Czyżyk, Jade Dreyfuss, Shelley Etkin, Berit Fischer, Martina Kolarek (aka Die Boden Schafft), Ute Lindenbeck, Vera Meyer, Mycelial Workgroup, Merlin Sheldrake

(Re-)Gaining Ecological Futures is a socio-ecological festival that critically engages with the human-centred ontology and the dualism between nature and culture. 

It offers affective encounters and collective engagements that holistically question how we can change our relation to the natural world towards  ecological mindfulness. how to create new synthesis in our technocratic times for a more inclusive and ‘cosmo-logical’ knowing? The festival shares proposals to reflect and act on how we contribute to shaping and nurturing ecological inter-relations and inter-actions in regenerative ways.

 

In this year’s edition the focus is on MYCOPOETICS, to illuminate the complex world of the mycelium that is omnipresent in every ecosystem on this planet. The Mycelium could be seen as the ultimate organic network; the epitome of “symbiocene”. The mycological communities elude standardised hierarchical knowledge production and a homogeneous understanding of the world. Their way of life defies capitalist logics, mechanisms and logics of binarity and control.

For four days, we invite to explore and immerse yourself with body and mind in artistic, practical and scientific ways, into some aspects of the immense complexities of the mycelial world. How can we overcome human-centred unilateral and binary thinking? How and what might we learn from the cross-species fungi superorganisms to compost the toxins of the Anthropocene?

PROGRAM

  • All sessions are free of charge.
  • The sessions can be attended independently.
  • In English language (except for the Strahlende Pilze workshop on 17.6. and 24.6., which will be in German)
  • All bodies, cultures and education are welcome.
  • We stand against any form of discrimination and violence. Violating and transgressive behaviour, such as sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist or comparable assaults, will not be tolerated.

 

REGISTRATION

  • Please send us an email to: re.gaining.ecological.futures@gmail.com
  • Please indicate which session you would like to attend.
  • Please send us a couple of sentences why you’d like to participate.
  • Please cancel asap if you are unable to attend so that the place can be given to someone else.
  • Limited number of participants. First come, first serve.

DAY 0, SATURDAY, 17 JUNE, (PRE-FESTIVAL)

14-19h
Strahlende Pilze
Martina Kolarek (Die Boden Schafft)

► Hot Compost Workshop, in German language
► Day 2: 24.6., 14.30-17h, Powerful Hybrid Beings

“Strahlen fungi” (aka Actinobacteria) are delicate hybrid beings between bacteria and fungi. In open soils they are hard working to create new humus from organic residues. When their dense, white webs permeate the compost after the period of hot rotting, we know that its development is going well. To experience this together, we will build a hot compost at the Floating University on this first day. We will show you which techniques you can use to create new habitats together with soil organisms and to increase biodiversity in the city. Strahlen fungi play an important role in this.

Please bring a pair of gardening gloves and a bottle of drinking water. We strongly recommend not to wear your most precious shoes and clothes. The two workshops can also be attended independently. Limited number of participants; those who take part in both workshops will be given preference. In case of heavy rain, the workshop will be postponed.

Martina Kolarek is a transdisciplinary and intercultural biochemist, soil scientist, visual artist and author. In 2014 she founded DIE BODEN SCHAFFT as a platform for a new soil culture and science. Her book Composting! was published in 2018 and in 2019 in French translation. Martina Kolarek lives and works in Berlin.
die-boden-schafft.de

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Futures (excerpt)
Merlin Sheldrake

► Floating University website

Thinking about fungi makes the world look different. Most fungi live out of sight, yet make up a massively diverse kingdom of organisms that support and sustain nearly all living systems. Fungi throw our concepts of individuality and even intelligence into question. They can change our minds, heal our bodies, and help remediate environmental disaster. In his book, Sheldrake discusses the ways these extraordinary organisms – and our relationships with them – change our understanding the planet on which we live, and the ways that we think, feel, and behave. 

Merlin Sheldrake is a biologist and author of “Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Futures”, a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller, and winner of the Royal Society Book Prize and Wainwright Prize. He is a research associate of the Vrije University Amsterdam, and works with the Society for the Protection of Underground Networks and the Fungi Foundation.  
merlinsheldrake

DAY 1, THURSDAY, 22 JUNE

10-13h
Adaptation
Shelley Etkin

In this workshop, we will explore the medicinal actions of particular fungi to support adaptivity towards resilience, moving beyond normative notions of ‘functionality’ and health. We will take time to explore how ‘stress’ appears in the body and mind through somatic practices accessible for all kinds of bodies. We will reflect on how decolonial, queer feminist, and disability justice can inform complex understandings of our bodies as shifting ecologies. The workshop will look at stress as a feedback mechanism, potentially offering a doorway into communication on personal, social, and environmental dimensions. It will offer tools to connect with the immune and nervous systems as multi-faceted networks within us, similar to those of mycelium in the land. Through embodied practices and intersectional thinking, this workshop will expand our understandings of adaptation as ongoing processes taking place within the mycelial webs of the soil and within our physical and social realities.

Shelley Etkin is a transdisciplinary artist, educator, gardener, and writer. Her work centres relations between bodies and lands through place-based knowledges and processes. Her research intersects dance and ecology with pedagogy and community organising, particularly in connection with plants and herbal medicines.
shelleyetkin.com

14-17h
Ecosomatic Practices for Living and Dying on a Damaged Earth
Olive Bieringa

In this workshop we will offer practices for living and dying together on a damaged earth. Together we will practice living, breathing, sensing, perceiving, digesting, dying, and decomposing to help us perceive more of the whole scale of the sensitivities and intelligences within us, the human and non-human, the transforming spaces, the before and after. We will share embodied practices to repair our relational fields. We will hone our skills, to improvise, to play, to experiment, to be receptive, to be in the unknown and trust we have the resources in our bodies to negotiate, survive, and thrive. Ecosomatics is a dynamic approach to living and learning which engages us in embodied practices to bring us into deeper relations with the world in which we live. This class is for anyone and everybody interested in movement, the body and consciousness regardless of experience or ability.

Olive Bieringa is a dance, performance and visual artist working at the intersection of social and creative practice, pedagogy, and healing. She is a teacher, and practitioner of Body-Mind Centering, program director of Somatic Education Australasia and part of BodyCartography that focuses on re-enchantment of embodiment, relationship, and presence. She is a doctoral candidate at the Theatre Academy, Uniarts Arts, Helsinki.
bodycartography.org

PUBLIC OPENING
18–22:00

18.30-22h
Mycelium Orgasm Report, VR, 15 min.
Monika Czyżyk

► Public Opening
► No registration required

A psychedelic virtual reality journey through a night-time Baroque pleasure garden, set in a forest of mushrooms and reconstructed as a dream topography of spaces, objects, dance parties and entities. Accompanied by driving organic techno sounds, it is an immersive glimpse into a timeless zone of revel in which man has become a mere fragmented memory. The glitched and chopped nature of grabbed digital artefacts lends a palpable sense of the unreal to this VR universe, leaving space for an imaginary narrative and a place to reflect on the connectedness of things, mirrored by the super connectedness of the fungal networks that loom large over the whole landscape. The artefacts –captured from the real world via Lidar Scanning technology– and the course plotted around them, mark different spaces and times; moments of orgasmic ascension and amniotic submersion. The work was developed in collaboration with Gabriel de la Cruz, Neil Luck.

Monika Czyżyk is a visual artist based in Helsinki. She works primarily with moving image in the context of experimental documentaries and socially engaged projects internationally. She is currently researching the topic »reimagined gardening« and collecting locally sourced clay for DIY kiln firings.
monikaczyzyk.org

19-20.15h
Lecture: Learning from fungi? Yes! … but what?
Vera Meyer

► Public Opening
► No registration required

Humans have lived together with fungi since birth. Some live in and on our bodies, are our constant companions and thus belong to our normal microbiota. They help us to better utilise nutrients and strengthen our immune system. Other fungi live in symbiosis with plants and supply them with nutrients and water from the soil. Fungi thus take care of us and our environment and actively help shape it, even though they are microscopically small. However, these and other cooperative metabolic activities of fungi are usually overlooked.

With my team at TU Berlin, we are researching how metabolic potentials of selected fungal species can be used for a sustainable and circular bioeconomy. In the future, clothes, furniture, houses made of fungi? Yes, that is possible! But how? In my talk I will present the latest innovations from the field of fungal-based biomaterials and will also discuss how they can be fully tapped in the triad of science, art and society.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Vera Meyer runs the Department of Applied and Molecular Microbiology at the Technische Universität Berlin. Her transdisciplinary research projects combine natural and engineering sciences with art, design and architecture and create bio-based scenarios for possible living and housing worlds of the future.
v-meer.de

DAY 2, FRIDAY, 23 JUNE

10-13h
Regenerative Social Networks: Learning from Fungi and the Wood Wide Web
Alistair Alexander

There are vast networks of fungi under our feet that have existed for thousands of years. Connecting trees and plants in an entangled mesh of mutual care, you could say that fungi are the ultimate social networks. Scientists call this the “Wood Wide Web”.
In this workshop we’ll leave our phones behind, and we’ll explore organic networks: the world of fungi. Through discussion and interaction, we’ll discover more balanced, more regenerative – and more fungal – ways we can connect, on- and offline. We’ll explore ways we can filter our social media, how we can build networks of trust and care, and how we can work together with our networks to minimise toxic activity. We’ll also discuss how we can switch off without feeling disconnected, so we can feel more connected to everyone and everything around us.

Alistair Alexander works on projects that explore technology’s impact on people and ecologies. His recent projects include data sonification with Berlin’s Amerika-Gedenkbibliothek, an online disinformation course for LGBTQI campaigners, and workshops on technology and holistic sustainability using “Doughnut Economics”.
reclaimed.systems

14-17h
Embodied Fermentation
David Bloom

Fermenting foods is part of nearly all human cultures – and some nonhuman ones as well! This beautiful, productive, and delicious relationship with microorganisms surrounding us not only provides many detoxing health benefits, but also extends our metabolisms – similar to subterranean mycelial connections between trees – putting the digestive process inside our bodies in dialogue with an analogous process happening in the world outside them. 

In this workshop, we will somatically explore our digestive system in movement, as well as discuss the ecological, political, and spiritual (!) aspects of fermenting foods. We will also engage in some hands-on fermenting, and each take home some floating ferments at the end!

If You have glass jars, knives, cutting boards, graters, vegetables, herbs, and spices that You can bring, please do so! We will provide some too, put everything together, and then work with what is there.

David Bloom (he/him/his) is a choreographer, dancer, teacher, parent, filmmaker, pianist, bodyworker, and fermenting Jewish mystic.
davidbloom.info

14-17h
Dives Into Mycology
Mycelial Workgroup

How can we use an erotic epistemological approach in the sense of Audre Lorde to learn from mycelial networks and their fruiting bodies? How can we approach this world with the orientation of an amateur, organism, guest, gourmet, healer or fearless lover? What happens when we work with the intelligence of the mycelium instead of “working” it? What happens when we adjust our pace of work and our projections and expectations to the mycelium? What kind of power dynamics are revealed and reproduced by creating sterile or pasteurised environments? What would it mean to create nutrient-rich living conditions in general? In one afternoon, the hosts of the Mycelial Workgroup not only want to confide in the subject of these networks, but also experiment with methods of approaching, touching and relating to our subject. In addition to sharing low-threshold practical knowledge about growing, cultivating and processing mushrooms, we will meander through speculative intelligences and radical cross-practices.

The Mycelial Workgroup, initiated by Dani Bershan, is inspired by the ten year old ELSEWHERE & OTHERWISE (E&O), a fluid grouping of artists and scholars who live together for ten days each year and engage with contemporary urgencies through feminist, queer and decolonial practices.
danielabershan.co

PUBLIC EVENING PROGRAM
18:30-21:00

18:30-21h
Mycelium Orgasm Report, VR, 15 min. 
Monika Czyżyk

► No registration required
► Open to the Public

A psychedelic virtual reality journey through a night-time Baroque pleasure garden, set in a forest of mushrooms and reconstructed as a dream topography of spaces, objects, dance parties and entities. Accompanied by driving organic techno sounds, it is an immersive glimpse into a timeless zone of revel in which man has become a mere fragmented memory. The glitched and chopped nature of grabbed digital artefacts lends a palpable sense of the unreal to this VR universe, leaving space for an imaginary narrative and a place to reflect on the connectedness of things, mirrored by the super connectedness of the fungal networks that loom large over the whole landscape. The artefacts –captured from the real world via Lidar Scanning technology– and the course plotted around them, mark different spaces and times; moments of orgasmic ascension and amniotic submersion.

The work was developed in collaboration with Gabriel de la Cruz, Neil Luck.

Monika Czyżyk is a visual artist based in Helsinki. She works primarily with moving image in the context of experimental documentaries and socially engaged projects internationally. She is currently researching the topic »reimagined gardening« and collecting locally sourced clay for DIY kiln firings.
monikaczyzyk.org

19-21h
Mycelial Media Archive – A discursive convivial scrolling through- and screening from a living archive
Mycelial Workgroup

► No registration required
► Open to the Public

This media archive, compiled by Dani Bershan and Mu Koch, presents a wide range of publicly available audiovisual materials reflecting the scope and diversity of theoretical and practical knowledge related to the world of fungi and mycelium in particular. The material consists of lectures, discussion panels and interviews, research reports, DIY instructions, promotional material for mycelium technologies, artistic videos and much more. Temporary, partial and incomplete as it necessarily is, this living archive illustrates current manifestations of a highly dynamic phenomenon in the public media sphere and shows the socio-cultural, aesthetic and discursive richness and heterogeneity of the ongoing “mycelium revolution”. Dani Bershan will share some excerpts from the archive in a discursive convivial format.

The Mycelial Workgroup, initiated by Dani Bershan, is inspired by the ten year old ELSEWHERE & OTHERWISE (E&O), a fluid grouping of artists and scholars who live together for ten days each year and engage with contemporary urgencies through feminist, queer and decolonial practices.
danielabershan.com

DAY 3, SATURDAY, 24 JUNE

10-13h
Myco-Meditations: Fungi Do Not Make Easy Subjects of Capitalism
Berit Fischer

How can new forms of togetherness enable us to reflect and feel anew in community? What can we learn from the way of life of the omnipresent symbiotically existing mycelium? This encounter seeks to activate points of connection in our relational webs of togetherness that oppose the extractive and divisive logic of capitalism. Inspired by some of the essential qualities of the mycelium, we will practice countering colonial and capitalist-anchored logics such as those of separation, binarity, unilateral taking and the reactionary. Through exercises of mutual care, mindfulness, revitalising our agency and holistically activating our critical awareness of our immanently interwoven interdependence as humans, and with the natural world, we will playfully draw inspiration from the poetics of the mycelium.

Berit Fischer (PhD) has been working  internationally and transdisciplinary since 1999 as an artist, curator, writer and scholar. In 2016 she founded the Radical Empathy Lab, a nomadic socio-ecological research lab for experiential knowledge formation. She is the founder and curator of the (Re-)Gaining Ecological Futures festival at Floating University, Berlin.
beritfischer.org

14 -17h
Moving Mushrooms
Jade Dreyfuss and Ute Lindenbeck (Floating Kidsuni)

► Workshop for kids from 8 years and older

We observe what kind of mushrooms grow in the Floating University, which ones we could grow, how mushrooms help other beings and how they could help us in future. Then we become mushrooms and we build our own moving network and spread into the basin.

Participants should wear garments that fit the weather conditions and wear good shoes for moving. Please bring food and drinks for yourself.

Jade Dreyfuss is an artist, photographer and illustrator. Ute Lindenbeck is a scenographer who has worked in the field of cultural education since 2017.
kids-uni

14:30 – 17h
Strahlende Pilze – Day 2: Powerful Hybrid Beings
Martina Kolarek (Die Boden Schafft)

► In German language

“Strahlen Fungi” (aka Actinobacteria) are delicate hybrid beings between bacteria and fungi. In open soils they are hard working to create new humus from organic residues. When their dense, white webs permeate the compost after the period of hot rotting, we know that its development is going well. On this second day, the hot compost will be pervaded by a dense web of the “Strahlen Fungi”. Now we can turn our attention to these powerful actors: What exactly do they do, and what do they look like? Why do they only sometimes become visible and then disappear again? And why can we still smell them so well?

Martina Kolarek is a transdisciplinary and intercultural biochemist, soil scientist, visual artist and author. In 2014 she founded DIE BODEN SCHAFFT as a platform for a new soil culture and science. Her book Composting! was published in 2018 and in 2019 in French translation. Martina Kolarek lives and works in Berlin.
die-boden-schafft.de

DAY 4, SUNDAY, 25 JUNE

10-13h
Let’s Grow Mushrooms
Katherine Ball

► Open to families and individuals

In this hands-on workshop, we will learn how to grow mushrooms. This is a practical workshop on the basics of mushroom growing, fungi’s life cycle, and biological roles mycelium plays. Step by step, we will learn how to grow pink and white oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) on straw and coffee grounds. These mushrooms are edible for cooking and also have medicinal benefits. Participants will be able to take home fungi they inoculate in the workshop, to watch it grow at home and harvest the mushrooms when they fruit a few weeks later.

If you make coffee the morning of the workshop, please bring the used coffee grounds from that morning’s coffee to help start your mushrooms growing.

Katherine Ball is a habitat for fungi and bacteria located on planet Earth. They practice the arts of living on a damaged planet, including: living in an off-grid floating island building mushroom filters to clean a polluted lake and apprenticing with nature to learn the biological counterpart to civil disobedience.
katherineball.com

14-17h
The Force Which Causes Mushrooms To Push Up From The Earth Overnight
Ulrike Bernard

In a dialogical reading format, we will dedicate ourselves to the emergent force or invisible energy that makes mushrooms pop up. There is hardly any language that has a word for this lively “thrust”. In a textual approximation, we will encounter the “words for life”, as botanist and author Robin Wall Kimmerer calls them. We will sense how words influence our imagination and our ability to connect with the living world of which we are a part. Based on different viewpoints, we will take a literary (queer)feminist look at the world of mushrooms and will share our thoughts and sensations in a mycelial way: starting from manifold directions, multiplying, and adding to the larger meshwork.

Ulrike Bernard is a visual artist and performer. She is active in environmental and cultural educational fields.
ulrikebernard.net

14-17h
Moving Mushrooms
Jade Dreyfuss and Ute Lindenbeck (Floating Kidsuni)

► Workshop for kids from 8 years and older

We observe what kind of mushrooms grow in the Floating University, which ones we could grow, how mushrooms help other beings and how they could help us in future. Then we become mushrooms and we build our own moving network and spread into the basin.

Participants should wear garments that fit the weather conditions and wear good shoes for moving. Please bring food and drinks for yourself.

Jade Dreyfus is an artist, photographer and illustrator. Ute Lindenbeck is a scenographer who has worked in the field of cultural education since 2017.
kids-uni
Curator: Berit Fischer
Program Assistants: Pia Groleger, Sarah Zeryab
Photography: Katharina Geist
Graphicdesign: Roman Karrer
Production: Ute Lindenbeck
Technique: Felix Wierschbitzki
Architecture: Lorenz Kuschnig, Florian Stirnemann, Felix Wierschbitzki
The 2023 edition of the spatial experiments at Floating University took place within the framework of the “BUILD+CARE+REPAIR” programme.
Architecture, building and programme organisation: Lorenz Kuschnig Lefort
Interpreted and build by Leonard Strübin, Mathilde Dewavrin, Jade Dreyfuss, Stefan Klopfer
Food transformations and kitchen experiments: Anna Herbert, Indira Colin
Volunteers: Adriana Gahona, Andrew Wu, Anna Jannicke, Eva Körber, Felix Werner, Fernanda Ayala Torres, Fotini Takirdiki, Johanna Stodte, Julia Walk, Justin Sante, Katharina Ripea, Konstatin Prishep, Louisa Kohlhoff, Mado Lenius, Marc Schmidt, Marie Dietze, Sarra Abid, and many more
Funded by Stiftung Kunstfonds, Sonderförderprogramm NEUSTART plus Plattformen der bildenden Kunst