Matsutake is the most valuable mushroom in the world and at the same time a weed which grows in human-devastated pine forests of North America and Asia. Thanks to its ability to nourish trees, matsutake allows forests to survive despite extreme conditions. In Japan, in contrast, it is a delicacy reaching astronomical prices and is collected by precarians – peasants, immigrants, outcasts of society and fugitives. With all of its contradictions, the case of matsutake as described in The Mushroom at the End of the World, this mushroom with a talent for inhabiting ruined places becomes a parable of survival. The first sentence of this fascinating book by anthropology professor Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing is a fundamental question: What do you do when your world starts to fall apart? How to live in the (capitalist, but not only) ruins that we created? Thinkers and scholars agree: the only thing that guarantees survival is symbiosis, cooperation within an (eco)system, not so much a choice and a pleasant exercise, but a complicated necessity – collaborative survival.
The art of survival, defined in such a peculiar way, has for years been practiced by the artists of contemporary choreography.
It would be difficult to find another discipline which would, literally and metaphorically, inhabit so many difficult neglected areas, which would experience so many deficiencies, would be so mistrustful towards all sorts of abuse, celebrating the horizontality of its own structures based on a generous exchange of experiences, collective generation of knowledge, dialogue and (self-)reflection, developing many models of cooperation, full of understanding for diversity and respect for Otherness.
Chorography (with collectivity at its roots), the art of “mushroom pickers” and for special tasks, can offer us today alternative scenarios for “being together” in the world which obviously went mad.
During this year’s Old Brewery New Dance at Malta, we will meet in practice and practise the meeting of curators, artists and audiences - convinced of the manifold, co-operating, co-responsible, thinking collectively
is still possible.
Not only in the field of contemporary choreography.
Programme curator: Joanna Leśnierowska / co-author of this year’s edition: Mateusz Szymanówka