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Mycelium Network
Installationshot "Mycelium Network" in Ioanina, 2023
  Mycelium Network
timebased installation in cave, Matthias Fritsch, Ioanina 2023
produced by Onassis Stegi in collaboration with Truffle Circle Association (ΤΡΟΥΦΟΚΥΚΛΟΣ ΑΝΑΠΤΥΞΙΑΚΟΣ ΣΥΛΛΟΓΟΣ)

Mycelium Network is a large-scale mushroom installation in a cave under the fortress of Ioannina, Epiros, Greece. It is a adapatation of the project Mycelium Garden. The name is a reference to the importance of fungi, whose extensive networks of mycelia play an important role in natural material cycles, particularly in the carbon cycle and in their symbiotic interactions with plants. For more information on the role of fungi in the ecological systems please read the text in the project Mycelium Garden.

The installation was developed according to permaculture principles and served a variety of different purposes, not only related to the presentation to the general public, but also the role and responsibility of the artist and the production from start to finish. Particular attention was paid to energy and resource use and the involvement of local groups.
At the heart of permaculture are the three principles of Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share. All of these aspects were considered and implemented as best as possible:
The artist's journey from abroad was by bus and not by plane as is usual for such distances. The materials used were mostly organic. The substrate in the mushroom bags was based on straw, which is a by-product of agriculture.

It is returned to the earth after the mushroom cultures have reached the end of their lives. The architecture was assembled exclusively from wood from a previous mushroom installation and leftover lumber from the preparatory work.

For the mushrooms to be exhibited, a local initiative was collaborated with, what could not be produced locally came from other suppliers from Greece.
Since the exhibits were living creatures that produced significant amounts of food, attention was paid to the timely harvesting and distribution of this food, in addition to the aesthetically very appealing presentation that brought the beauty and fascination of mushrooms to the people. Since for food law reasons the mushrooms could not simply be left for visitors to take home, the artist distributed the harvest to people from the exhibition guard, from the production team and a non-profit organization for their community kitchen.
A workshop on the cultivation of mushrooms was also held as part of the exhibition. The workshop was implemented towards the end of the exhibition together with Vassilis from the local truffle association. In addition to homemade substrate bags, participants and observers could also take substrate bags from the installation to experiment at home.

mycelium network ioannina
Installationshot "Mycelium Network" in Ioannina, July 2023
  After the exhibition
When the installation was dismantled, The wood from the installations achitecture was donated to the wood workshop of Habibi Works, an organization, which supports a migration camp near Ioannina. Arrangements were made with the monument protection authorities that the Habibi Works would continue to have access to the cave in order to regularly harvest and utilize the mushrooms for another one to two months.

In Habibi's community garden, the spent mushroom substrate will then also be used as mulch or composted. Only the approximately 150 plastic bags constitute the actual trash. The electronic equipment such as LED lighting was disassembled into its individual components for storage and reuse. Other supporting elements included rocks and boulders from the cave that were available on site and continued to remain there.
  MushRoom installationEvery two days such a box could be harvested and distributed in the installation. MushRoom installation
  MushRoom installation
Detail "Mycelium Network" Ioannina, September 2023



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