Mimi Debruyn

Curator, Antwerp
On Fungus
Plasy Monastery 1994

The project started with Hugo Debare’s idea to organize a working international art event. We needed to agree on a consistent topic that artists could concentrate on. Otherwise, the project would be meaningless, especially on the plane of communication. We originally proposed the title Art-d-Eco, because it alludes to a wide context — an emphasis on the question of matter and the way it is contained in the artwork. Secondly, there was an allusion to the ecological movement, not as a fashionable expression of social trends, but as a necessary preconceived idea for the future and the role of art. Thirdly, there was a reference to the historical style of Art Deco and thus the critical comment towards the pseudo-intellectuality of a certain part of the contemporary art scene. Critical reservations have led us to the title of Fungus without departing from the original definition of the problem. In addition, this word refers to the notion of growth: mushrooms grow in a decomposing environment, in locations that are not industrially polluted. In this sense, I stress the horizontal plane of action — focusing more on the process of communication and less on the work of individual artists.

We have chosen the form of a symposium exhibition to give us enough time to establish contacts. The hospitality of Hermit Foundation in Plasy seems to me to be a good place for Fungus. The place has a certain tradition. The environment offers peace and concentration for the quiet communication needed for intense contact between art, the artist and audience. From an architectural point of view, the monastery provides multiple spaces for realization. The cultural history of this place is a challenge and a promise for the future. This place is also artistically and politically neutral, as it is in the center of Europe. The fact that in Plasy there actually are fungi (woodcutter) actually poses a challenge for the realization of the project right here. It is not our intention to organize the project in Plasy every year. We hope to expand this “mycelium” to different parts of Europe.

From Fungus interviews, Plasy, 24 Sept. – 24 Oct., 1994. Blanka Jiráčková, in: Ateliér, weekly journal about contemporary art, 1994, č.19, s.8.

Maria Margaretha Renatus Helena “Mimi” Debruyn is an art historian and curator, born 1949 in Merksem. She lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium.