Fungi Cosmology: a new kingdom and its relevance for the future

How fungi can teach us new ways to live in the world - a transdisciplinary research program by a group of artists, scientists, and curators from Brazil, Chile, and Switzerland.

In 1998 scientists discovered that the fungi kingdom split off from plants about 1547 billion years ago while from animals only about 1.538 billion years ago. Since fungi are more related to animals than plants, they have recently been recategorized into their kingdom.

A connector of ecosystems

Fungi continually transform the materiality of the world around us, building a vast network of relationships with various living organisms. Its existence is deeply intertwined with the presence of trees, bacteria, animals, and substances, being the web that connects living organisms of all ecosystems.

Fungi Cosmology is a transdisciplinary research program by artists, scientists, and curators from Brazil, Chile, and Switzerland. The idea of this 3-year project is to develop new knowledge and languages from observing and analyzing the symbiotic relationships of fungi. It is organized around three field research trips: one in the Amazon, one in Patagonia, and the last in Switzerland.

What makes fungi so unique?

Research has shown that beneath every forest and wood, there is a complex underground web of roots and fungi connecting trees and plants, named the Wood Wide Web. It is a complex and collaborative network of symbioses in soils where fungi are combined with tree roots, forming mycorrhizal networks.

This intricate structure connects individual plants transferring nutrients between participants, opening up discussion not only on the role of fungi but also on existence, life, and survival. If beings are interconnected, what are the limits between the individual and the collective?

What can we learn from the world of fungus so that we can live together with nature and among ourselves as a community?

Some see fungi as the most underappreciated kingdom of the natural world. They are master decomposers that keep our forests alive, breaking down organic matter and releasing nutrients into the environment. This provided essential minerals for early terrestrial plants in the Palaeozoic era, allowing them to spread and colonize the land, turning the planet green and changing the composition of the atmosphere. 

territorial research program

Fungi Cosmology aims to enable challenging collaboration and foster interdisciplinary innovation. The research project involves expeditions, lectures, workshops, presentations, and seminars. It is a territorial research program between art and science, researching Manaus, Tierra del Fuego, and the Alps.

The first field research destination is Brazil, and will take place in March of 2023. Participants will visit both the Amazon and São Paulo. The Residency Program in the Amazon will include a field trip to Manaus City, Ecological Reserves, and Cuieiras River from March 13th to the 22nd. This diverse group of artists, scientists, and curators will unite for an exchange to build common methodologies and strengthen processes, studies, and possible discoveries. 

There will be two public events to spread the word about the research project Fungi Cosmology and its aim to harness the power of experience with data and theory. One event will take place in Manaus on the 14th of March and the other in São Paulo on the 24th of March. The Residency Program in the Amazon will include the Manaus City, Ecological Reserves, and Cuieiras River.

This program is a co-creation between Labverde (Amazon) and Casa-Museu Alberto Baeriswyl (Patagonia). It was shaped together with FoodCulture days and the Artists in Labs program at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), in collaboration with by Pro-Helvetia and Swissnex in Brazil, and has a partnership with The National Institute of Aonian Research (INPA), Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) and Magallanes University.

Meet the participants of Fungi Cosmology

To delve deeper into this fungi theme and what we can learn from them, the Fungi Cosmology project gathered scientists, artists, and curators from Brazil, Chile, and Switzerland to collect and present information on this topic. It is a group dedicated to building narratives about the multispecies landscapes of the Amazon and Patagonia to disseminate the importance of the fungi kingdom and its relevance for the planet’s future. Meet the selected groups from each country.

Brazilian Group

Chilean Group

Swiss Group