Kunsthall Trondheim

Diana Policarpo – Nets of Hyphae

The publication Diana Policarpo – Nets of Hyphae (2021). Design: João M. Machado. Photo: Bruno Lopes

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Diana Policarpo’s new work highlights feminist intersectional concerns and draws geographical connections between Norway, Portugal, and Spain, where a similar fungus species, the Claviceps purpurea is found. Also known as ergot, the parasite infects the ovaries of rye plants, creating purple protrusions. These knobs have been used traditionally by women for abortions and to initiate labor in childbirth. The mushroom is also the organicbase from which LSD is synthesized. When consumed in larger doses, often unknowingly, for instance in bread, it caused long-lasting states of hallucination referred to today as medieval dancing plagues. And, allegedly, during the witch trials in Finnmark and other places, women and Sámi shamans were said to have visions of the devil after ingesting a purple substance—possibly the Claviceps, as Policarpo speculates.

The writers in the book discuss Policarpo’s research in the context of ancestral knowledge, the capitalization of health, women’s and LGBTQ+ rights, witchcraft, and alchemy from artistic, curatorial, and historical perspectives. Making connections across times, geographies, and scales, Nets of Hyphae humbly points to shared habitats and, in the words of the anthropologist Anna Tsing, to possibilities of earthly survival on a precarious planet.

Edited by Stefanie Hessler

Guilherme Blanc
Emmy Beber
Rune Blix Hagen
Stefanie Hessler
Margarida Mendes
Katrine Elise Pedersen

Design by João M. Machado

Co-published by Galeria Municipal do Porto, Kunsthall Trondheim and Mousse Publishing, and with support from the Arts Council Norway