Blue Dots in Grey Matter
This project uses the fungi Aspergillus nidulans to heal an old silo in Oßmannstedt, a village close to Weimar. Built in the 1930s, close to Buchenwald’s concentration camp, the silo was most likely made by forced labourers. This trauma needs healing, and the abandoned place people tell its story. Artists of the future are invited to use the silo as an atelier while cultivating Aspergillus nidulans in the cracks of the old building.
full concept text
For a long time, the silo stood unnoticed on the outskirts of the small village in the Weimarer Land until storms, weather, and wind took their toll and decayed the massive concrete structure. Since the turmoil of the reunification years, the area lay waste and served as an adventure playground for the village’s teenagers. So time passed without any repairs being made to the silo. But the concrete monolith stood unshakably in the Ilm valley, reminding us all of the uncomfortable heritage of the national-socialist era.
Prisoners from nearby Buchenwald had bent and cast the silo from steel and concrete into its present shape in forced labour.
Soon, a handful of preservationists woke the warehouse from its hibernation by tracking down the insolvent owner in his escape house on Mallorca and convincing him to return the warehouse to the community. Thus began the long and arduous journey of wrenching rooms and chambers from the silo year after year, commemorating the dead and sheltering the living
An artist-in-residence programme was born in which every summer, artists were invited to the silo. To be inspired by the cracks and fractures of history, find meaning, and aid in the healing.
There are four of us this year – one artist per cabin, in the old warehouse in Oßmannstedt.
Some time ago, my predecessors brought Aspergillus Nidulans into the house. A fungus that is said to cure concrete. A fungus that can withstand the stinging bases and the low PH value. First, they tried to add some sugar water to the concrete to get the spores of Aspergillus Nidulans into the freshly plastered joints. Then they found that the growing crystals strangled water and air from the fungus. They then tried AGAR patches, which they placed at neuralgic points in the house, hoping to give the fungus a head start on its growth.
Unfortunately, the thirsty house sucked all the liquid out of the jelly, making it impossible for the fungus to survive in this supposedly friendly, sugary environment. When they finally and desperately began to meticulously spread a mixture of liquid culture and pH indicator on the cracks with their brushes, blue dots appeared in the rock.
The dots indicate cracks that become crevices, providing a perfect sanctuary for the fungus that feels most comfortable in this protected environment. The blue cracks and dots breathe life into the house and give the tearful work of its builders a signature in the boulder.
The mushroom shows us the way, guides the brush and translates the suffering of generations into a growing mural. Year after year, new artists strive to contribute. Until the last crack is closed, and the silo has become a new place of co-creation.