t-shroom

july 12 - august 18 (London)


the sophisticated urban consumer knows his/her mushrooms as the plastic-wrapped champignons, while in many parts of eastern europe families clad in raincoats and rubber boots still spend autumn weekends actually mushroom-picking in forests.

do you know much of mushrooms? not only the magic ones, or the fungous stuff between your toes. do you know of the nostalgia of mushrooms collected in a hand-basket for their "cut-off" homeland - the mycelium - a multi-cell root-like network spawned underground, sometimes for thousands of square kilometres?

and have you happened to hear stories of social mycelia?

though the term might taste of a trendy theory from the likes of network society, fractals, selfish gene or idea virus, it's a real thing! sounds just like coca-cola's ex-selling-line, and not by coincidence. it's about a symbiotic colony of acetic acid bacteria and yeast fungi, colloquially called tea mushroom or t-shroom.

certain studies indicate that even some twenty years back tea mushroom was found in one out of three kitchens in that time's soviet union. the jellyfish-like creature used to inhabit three-litre jar and ensured a year-round supply of home-made beverage. t-shroom usually was either passed from one generation to the next as a family heritage or it was acquired as a gift from friends. therefore it took up a place in the household hierarchy equivalent to a family member's or a pet's.

particularly important is the fact that tea-mushroom could not be bought in any shop. all shops without exception in those times were state-owned, thus ensuring the regime's control over the choice and distribution channels of commodities. thus we can state that the autonomy of the tea-mushroom growers network encouraged consumption habits alternative to the system of power.

political changes and market liberalization have rendered the t-shroom's outsider status even more visible, as invasion of the global brands of soft-drink companies has demoted it from the position of a respected family member to that of a minority. however, there still remain babushkas who are keen to integrate tea-mushroom into the everyday of their grand-children, at times with subversive shrewdness calling it a "biological tamogochi".

the attendant colonies of t-shroom have been transported illegally over the borders to preserve the population from extinction. they should be considered refugees who hope to be adopted at friendly homes or supported with donations of sugar and tea.

in their turn, every supporter who has become a symbiosis partner may be considered a cell in a specific social mycelium. join the network of activists in the zone of mushroom-based autonomy!

simply put, this is a well-meant offer to become a mushroom...