Maurizio Montalti 5 Dec 2011

Bodies of Change


The growth of a new burial practice by employing fungi in performing the role of main “disassemblers” within the cyclical processes of growth and decomposition.


Bodies of Change installation - This is the Bodies of Change installation before mushroom growth began. This artwork is part of the Paddestoelen Paradijs exhibition. Govert de Jong

Physical decay and physical death are natural processes, without which there could be no new life. This project places its focus towards a better understanding of the realm of fungi and their fundamental importance to the environmental processes of decomposition and transformation of both organic and inorganic substrates and the resultant cycling of elements.

This project takes up the question of how we can make use of fungi’s activity and knowledge as a guidance for better understanding the cyclicity of every existing thing?

The designer comes to act as an interdisciplinary translator, facilitating communication between different fields, particularly between biologic science and design. The direct collaboration with mycologists becomes the base from which to explore the potential of recent scientific discoveries related to fungi, and open up subjects and content otherwise out of a reach to a general audience.

This project aims to inspire and stimulate a reflection leading to a re-qualification of the general perception towards the fungal kingdom and to the acceptance of the necessity of a true re-connection with the natural world, for a reciprocal symbiotic exchange of benefits.


'Schizophyllum Commune' fungal spores - Growing 'Schizophyllum Commune' fungal spores on petri dishes in the labratory. Picture taken from the site of the artist . Maurizio Montalti

Mycelium Shroud

The installation consists of a felt shroud inoculated with fungal mycelia from the species Schizophyllum Commune. The shroud is placed around a structural 'body', which is stored in a sealed display case in order to minimize contamination from outside bacteria. The fungi will grow on the shroud, replicating the processes of growth and decomposition that can take place under the ground. Proper temperature and humidity levels will be maintained in order to create the ideal growth environment. We will be tracking and visually documenting the growth of fungus over time in the exhibition space.

If placed around a body, the mycelium’s action would mainly contribute in favouring the decomposition process of the body, while collecting and neutralizing toxic elements stored over a lifetime within the organism. It would work to distribute the different nutrient supply originated from the body to surrounding life forms.


The fungus is spreading on shroud - The Bodies of Change installation is steadily being overgrown by the fungus. Some grass has also sprouted from the substrate underneath the shroud. Govert de Jong

Installation Updates

If you 'like' this installation (either physically with your ikTag in the exhibition or by pressing the 'i like it' button online) then you will get updates about its growth and progress.