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Forest Geometries (Koningsbos)

The Frans Masereel Centrum in Belgium is next to a beautiful, fertile forest called the Koningsbos. During a residency in October 2019 I engaged in a site-specific performance project there for which I made paper from the abundant mushrooms of the forest floor. Some of the paper was formed into geometric shapes which distorted and tore themselves apart while drying; the rest was formed into sheets, which were cut into squares after they had dried. The collision of geometry and natural forms, an ongoing theme of my work, is a way of examining the limits of human consciousness (traditionally elevated by us into god-like status on earth) in relation to sophisticated ecologies of which we are only recently becoming aware, or have forgotten ​over centuries of industrialisation. 

The work was shown in the Frans Masereel Centrum gallery in sunlight, separated from the elements by glass panels. It was then returned to the forest in a ceremony of apology to the earth, a meditation on how far we have come from being able to emulate the cycle of complete disintegration and regeneration that all other species follow. The paper, highly toxic to humans, was returned home to a complex and ancient ecological system where destructive humans seem no longer welcome. 

 

It began to rain, and the work started its slow process of decomposing back into the ground. The paper resembled fallen leaves in absurdly geometric shapes. New leaves and pine needles fell on top of them, and tiny new fungi sprouted up in the gaps. Several days later the pieces were still intact, but barely perceptible among the forest debris.

Paper sculptures in Forest Geometries at the Frans Masereel Centrum gallery.

 The Koningsbos is visible in the background

Squares of paper made from mushrooms and pine needles

Mushroom and pine needle paper cast over a cube

The work is returned to the forest

This unique piece was donated to the Frans Masereel Centrum Collection as a record of the performance. 

All remaining forest matter has been returned to its original site. 

Thanks to my stellar foraging team and collaborators in group residency and show Environment/Process/Meditation at Frans Masereel Centrum:

Jamie Scherzer, Sariah Park, Xuewu Zheng and Malgorzata Oakes (behind the camera)

Arranging paper sculptures in sunlight