Val Smets

Bittersweet Invaders


In cooperation with the Kunsthauscafé

Venue: Kunsthauscafé, Foyer, Öffentlicher Raum

Colourful pop mushrooms spread from the terrace of the Kunsthauscafé across the interior of the building and into the foyer, sprouting here and there from the urban surfaces, parasitic and equally subversive. From the distribution boxes in the café’s outdoor area, over wall projections and ventilation slots, into the busy restaurant inside, on pipes, behind magazines, at the kitchen counter or in the middle of the herb bed – they pop up unexpectedly.

Bittersweet Invaders is the name of Val Smets’ art project in which – following her microcosmic spatial installation in Alfredo Barsuglia’s Suahtsnuk last year – she once again intervenes in semi-public space in Graz. This time, instead of filigree mushroom sculptures growing from the ground as in they did in Suahtsnuk, they now shoot out vertically as small aliens, at different heights and on heterogeneous surfaces. Almost as if a dense fungal mycelium was growing under the Kunsthauscafé, creating small clusters of artificial oyster mushrooms.

Val Smets (* 1991, Luxembourg) produces large-format paintings as well as sculptural mushroom objects that she allows to parasitise on urban surfaces. The artist works intuitively and paints her works in strong, hypnotic colours. Fungi as recurring motifs result from her in-depth exploration of themes such as environmental protection, biodiversity and symbiotic-parasitic ways of life in nature. Fungi are cosmopolitans and colonise the most diverse habitats. They do not, however, just exploit their habitats – they have a reciprocal, ecologically valuable relationship with them, and make their inhabited environment fertile, for instance – which, says Val Smets, is something humans should follow as an example.

In cooperation with the Kunsthauscafé
With thanks to Nathalie Fantitsch and Michael Schunko


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