by Kim Rathnau
Forest Darmstadt, Germany
My installation Jellyfish Invasion is an ongoing project which deals with the rapid growth of jellyfish populations in the oceans. The increasingly warmer water, due to climate change, provides a fertile habitat for jellyfish. Overexploitation and reduced ecosystem services due to ocean acidification also deprive jellyfish of predators, causing them to proliferate rapidly. Similar developments can be found in the forest ecosystem, especially in tree mushrooms. They grow mainly on diseased and dead trees. Due to the perennial droughts, forest dieback continues, and tree mushrooms gain nutritive ground and multiply rapidly.
The Forest Darmstadt in Germany, where I live, is mostly dominated by beech trees. These have particularly suffered from drought in the past few years. The groundwater table is low, so it is difficult for them to reach the water reserves with their relatively superficial root system. They dry out, become diseased and die. A tree fungus that particularly likes to grow on beech trees is the tinder sponge. By moulding tinder sponges with natural rubber, I create jellyfish and locate them in the forest. On several levels, I create a transfer from one ecosystem to another and try to show the complex interrelationships within the natural earth system.