(ir)Relevant Matter

Biotalk 25 - with Karolina Ferenc, Caroline Jacob and Margherita Soldati

15 Feb 2017

By turning ashes into soap, Caroline Jacob creates an object to be used. In Karolina Ferenc's work, the lichen becomes a friend or a lover rather than a commodity. Margherita Soldati explores the nature of crystals reflecting on the potential of the material. Despite the distinct paths of Jacob, Ferenc and Soldati's works, we see that the artists want to inspire a shift in our understanding of matter that may be deemed irrelevant. While Jacob presents a more functional approach to her work in wASH, Ferenc's conceptive scenario 'Lichens in Love' is purposefully non-utilitarian. Perhaps, Soldati's 'Growing Surface' is somewhere in the middle. She urges us to reflect on our inevitable relationship with and dependency on nature.

Biotalk invites makers who work on the frontiers of the arts and biology.

Tickets / Facebook


wASH Proto product - Using waste ash from the restaurant Mediamatic ETEN to develop a natural detergent. Caroline Jacob

Caroline Jacob

How to extract a valuable material from an unwanted waste? What if you could wash your clothes from a discarded material? Caroline Jacob uses the byproduct of Mediamatic ETEN's waste circulation in order to develop a new detergent. Generated by the pizza oven, ash is recycled within Mediamatic's compost. By examining and taking the discard from its origin, Jacob's revisted the material through heirloom recipes which once called for ash. By leaching the ash she is able to obtain a lye which is highly concentrated and suitable to be used as a soap. wASH seeks to reconceive an old habit with the aim of sharing a new understanding of local value making in the field of waste material.


Lichen in Love close up - Lichen in Love, project and image by Karolina Ferenc

Karolina Ferenc

Lichen in Love is a project by Karolina Ferenc about a relationship between the human (represented by the author) and the non-human (represented by the lichen). The project consists of a set of objects that explore the issues troubling the non-human in the Anthropocene, unofficially recognized as the epoch when the mankind is a geological factor. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, communities of lichens have been greatly affected by a number of factors like pollution, global warming or ozone hole. Lichens, like many other non-humans, often appear as problematic and unimportant for humans. However, particular communities, such as the sciences, admire Lichens for their ability to survive in extreme conditions like outer space. ‘Lichen in love’ is a speculative scenario where lichen isn’t approached as an object or commodity, but as a friend and a subject of fascination.


Breathing on lichen - Breathing Tube facilitates the exhaled air on lichen. Human breath contains small amounts of nitrogen and carbon dioxide which lichens need. Exhaled air is warm and humid which is a great way to please her. Karolina Ferenc

Margherita Soldati

In Growing Surface Margherita Soldati explores the potential of crystal as a creative and functional material. She questions how crystal, a natural phenomenon, can me manipulated and shaped. The work aspires to discover if the substance can thus be grown and instructed to form a vertical structure. Soldati's piece is part of an exploration of nature's potential to provide humans with inspiration. She grounds herself in the belief that we, as humans, are inextricably connected to nature. Growing Surface both embraces the intelligence of nature and our dependency on it.


Growing Surface - Margherita Soldati


Wednesday 15 February
Program start at 20:00
Mediamatic Biotoop, Dijksgracht 6, Amsterdam
Pre-sale ticket: €7,50 / Door ticket €10,00
Students pay only €5,00