EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED TO EVERYTHING ELSE: MYCO LOGIC
Everything is Connected with Everything Else: Myco Logic, exhibition at Heritage Courtyard Pavilion of installation by Elizabeth Day aggregating artwork from the Myco Logic community arts and cultural development program at Cumberland Hospital, facilitated by Elizabeth Day, and previous iterations of Myco Logic. 14 – 21 Oct and 25 Nov – 3 Dec 2017. Curated by Claire Taylor. Heritage Courtyard Pavilion, Parramatta Justice Precinct, Parramatta.
Myco Logic is an evolving participatory project whose inception was in Kandos, regional NSW, as part of Cementa15. For more than a year Elizabeth Day worked with local community groups as well as other festival artists to make a “crop” of hand-crafted fungi, knitting together these divergent communities. This “crop” was brought together on a raft of raffia and string “mycelia” in an installation created by Day for the festival. In 2017, Day facilitated an arts program at Cumberland Hospital, with the workshops open to the hospital’s broader community, including carers and family members.
At the heart of Myco Logic is a creative exchange based on the image of fungi and their underground mycelial root structures. The mycelia are vast networks that communicate between species and transmit nutrients beneath forest floors. Day likens this system to a logic of communities. The project mobilises this non-centred image of mutually supportive networks and aims to foster connections between contributors through the process of making hand-crafted fungi together.
The pavilion exhibition presents artwork from the Kandos iteration of Myco Logic as well as emerging works from the program at Cumberland Hospital and community workshops in the pavilion. By involving the hospital and broader community in practical, creative workshops, Myco Logic assists in building support networks within and outside of the hospital, addressing the isolation experienced by many in mental health contexts. The program was originally developed to be implemented through the Life Skills unit and its timing was intended to help strengthen the support for consumers, carers and families as part of the preparations for the major transition they face when the hospital’s East Campus in Parramatta North is decommissioned.
The temporary fencing supporting the Myco Logic installation references the hoardings that have gone up around many buildings in Parramatta North for archaeological and conservation purposes, partitioning areas off as construction sites. For Day these echo the long history of institutional containment and control exercised across the site. The East Campus is set on the eastern side of the Parramatta River and includes the historic Female Factory and former Asylum site. Clustered around are Parramatta Gaol, the Norma Parker Centre and the infamous Parramatta Girls Home. The multiple layers of grids that emerge from the fencing and mesh set against and in contrast to the rhizomatic, promiscuous mass of raffia mycelia in the Myco Logic installation speak to how different institutional structures, rules and regulations get overlaid and superimposed but fundamentally run counter to the thinking of those they are intended to protect. Christine Dean describes this approach in Day’s practice as an “assault on the history and ideology of rectilinear thinking”.* It is no coincidence that Day articulates how similar the image of a neural network is to a mycelial network.
* Christine Dean, “Unravelling Production” in the offcuts of reason: works by Elizabeth Day, 1997.
This iteration of Myco Logic was developed with consumer and carer advocates, and the Recovery Services team at Cumberland Hospital (WSLHD, NSW Health). The first exhibition was presented as part of National Carers Week, Mental Health Month, and The Big Anxiety: festival of arts + science + people, an initative of UNSW Art & Design and The Blackdog Institute, UNSW. The exhibition venue was supported by Property NSW. The project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.