Benera and Estefan
Debrisphere. Visible Manifestations of Invisible Forces, 2019-2020
mixed media installation: single-channel video on monitor, drum rack stand, metal joints, aluminium pipes, wood sticks, sand, resin, pigments, the mycelium of various fungi (Tricholoma matsutake, Psathyrella ammophila), macronutrients (N,P,K,Ca), glass, laboratory clamps, variable dimensions.

© cinematographer Tudor Cioroiu| Format Studio; color grading Simona Cristea, sound design Sillyconductor
Photo © Stefan Altenburger

This project is created within the context of the exhibition Potential Worlds: Eco-Fictions at the Migros Museum, which inquires into the potential worlds that might emerge from the ruins of humanity’s making. How can the detritus of the present and the traces of destruction – the “ruins of the Anthropocene” – be handled? What potentials are released when man and nature meet and ally?

Since 2017, Anca Benera and Arnold Estefan have been producing a series of works entitled Debrisphere. Landscape as an extension of the military imagination, in which they take up the question as to how political and military actions are deposited in landscapes: artificial mountains, military coral reefs, blooming deserts, and other similar man-made constructions resulting from or still serving conflict and war around the world. In this research, they often shift from macro to micro perspectives, including also invisible particles of war debris, such as at the leftovers of bombs and metallic remains from the Normandy landings in 1944 that are now inscribed into the sand.

Benera and Estefan's project is an experiment that brings together contaminated sand particles (microscopic war debris) from Normandy with a particular fungal organism, in a quasi-lab setting. The artists are inspired by the research of the anthropologist Anna Tsing into the sought-after Matsutake mushroom which is traded as an expensive delicacy, favors devastated soils and ruined landscapes, and cannot be cultivated. Their installation builds on the example of the mushroom by focusing on the capacity of nature for resilience and its symbiotically co-existing entities.

Commissioned by Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Zurich and YARAT Contemporary Art Space.