Kathrin Böhm

Dear Kathrin

Thanks for the text which I have just read. I find this extraordinarily one dimensional as a response to the polemic - also 'they' indicates a reactionary position. Perhaps the attack would be better directed at Virno, or the idea itself of contribution to an anonymous machinic organisation [the electronic field of the internet] or some such antagonism. But as to what I am doing I think it's [personally] too invested in an assumption itself. The whole idea of Virno's concept is gauged in the terms of indifference. etctera.

Another paradox is that the response has been vivid and freeing in fact from both 'men' and 'women'. However I am very pleased to represent these remarks as a form of multiplying contradictions.

thanks for it

as ever


Hello Peter

Thanks for your e mail and feedback.

We would like to add your comments to our contribution and hope that's ok with you, since disobedience is a relational term and best reflected in situations of conflict.


Hello Peter

And YES we react in a quite direct way on the idea and the way the question came to us by email. This reaction is on the surface direct, and in another way more layered than a logical speech. The text is build up by just looking what was on the table combined by the mood of that day and the memories that popped up at that moment. Multitude can be thoughtful and reflective, but also gives space so you have a choice to react on how you receive things. And of course every call for entries has multiple messages, as every entry has them as well. Besides that I cannot - don't want to - act - like I know the academic ins and outs of Virno and the whole tradition in which the thinking is set up, but I can react on the message and subject itself from my practice and make a drawing and a story and do an email conversation. So reacted in an open way meanwhile knowing that it was maybe not what you meant to get. When I start talking it all personally now, I could be a bit disappointed that you don't see that we shared some thoughts and made a drawing. I prefer to point out that I really enjoyed the call itself and therefore contributed to this Handbook for Disobedience: Multitude, a survey of current activity


Giant Mushroom

Kathrin Böhm, Wapke Feenstra

A brief e-mail conversation between artists Kathrin Böhm (public works) and Wapke Feenstra, followed by a metaphor and a drawing.

Hello Wapke

I have to admit that I can't and don't really want to follow the quotes and rhetoric in the invitation text. I should let them know. I like the idea of us just having a conversation on line about it, but I am not entirely certain if I want to place it in a context where too much rhetorical wanking is going on.

Hey Kathrin

I think we can say something on this (and have to sent it in!) but - for sure we should be careful that we don't just add a new idea to their search for new topics and therefore brands: we should try to be disobedient in the system and move on all the time. This hesitation of doing a text in this context is already interesting. So take care we are making a text on disobedience in the tradition of art(writings) so the first thought is: is this possible?

Multitude isn't necessarily a complex theoretical phenomena which requires a theoretical response. It's an everyday reality that's constantly being replied to anyway.

What I don t like about their notes on Disobedience and Multitude is, that they are assumptions.

There has always been a multitude, which has been repressed in its existence and representation by mostly male forms of power and the execution of this power. The appearance of multitude doesn't signify a change of history but a change in history, with emancipatory forces fighting for an existing multitude.

I also don't like the word disobedience, it s also a term defined by its power relationship.

The disobedient one against the norm. It follows the idea of negative definition, that an act is defined through it being against something, rather than being for something, or just being.

I associate it too much with the image of the disobedient wife, who doesn't have dinner ready in time, or the disobedient teenager who doesn't want to go for Sunday walks any longer. But it would be so much more interesting to look at what the wife and teeanger are doing instead!

To me it seems that their call for submission is part of a curatorial and discursive system that has a hermetic narcisme. Disobedience, being catered, is the source of a lot of contemporary art (shows). This source for a new topic is a male longing, an image set up in the century of industrialisation and this (yes still) western source where we drink from is looking for new brands all the time. If I have a negative day (hardly ever) my head has an us/them scenario on the screen. I see the artworld these days looking in a mirror and think about how generous they are to let people talk about disobedience. Just now while we think the contemporary art tries to go for new forms in art and explore areas that can add movements and space to the killing capitalism art is part of; I see a narcist turning the head and looking at me and says look what a space I gave to you, a whole playfield in which you can be multitude and do participation art in the city and even in the rural and we look at you because we are generous, you even can add an article in a magazine. The invitation is set up by a lot of quotes to impress you and feel you a bit stupid as a non-native non academic. But we make you visible. HELP!

I have quite a few quotes from you in my head which I always thought bring messy things to a point, and make them a fact rather than a problem.

One is

"I have to make things untidy from time to time, otherwise it becomes all too clear"

And the other one I keep referring to is

"That's one of the reasons why I became an artist, that I can do what I want and find interesting.

Things might seem contradictory to others, but they all have enough space in my head to be there together."

A metaphor seems to fit here.

A biologist told me - when we had a drink after getting my nature price for the webxylotheek - that the biggest organism on earth is a mushroom, not a tree or an elephant or whatever, but a mushroom. The amazing thing of this mushroom is that it is mostly underground and you need knowledge to see it as one big mushroom.

For years the "honey mushroom" was known, but no one was aware of the size and the invasive nature of this species. One day a forester chopped an infected tree and found spreading white filaments, mycelia, which draw water and carbohydrates from the tree to feed the fungus. By collecting and analysing samples of this and other infected trees, the fungus is discovered as a huge single organism. Researchers realized over DNA analyses that it was one big fungus they could blame for killing large amounts of evergreen trees in that wood. Since then even bigger "honey mushrooms" are discovered, there is a rumour spread that the biggest is 2,200 acres and tat one is at least 2,400 years old, possibly older. This largest single organism is of the species Armillaria ostoyae. But going into the forest where this giant makes its home you would not look at it and see it. Armillaria had the possibility to grow and spread because it is primarily underground; the main part of this organism lives in the earth, out of sight. Occasionally, this specimen will send up honey coloured mushrooms to our sight as a visible evidence of the giant beneath. How is it possible for a single fungus to get so big? The meanly invisible fungus can live in dead roots and stumps for many years. The fungus spreads through the soil via roots. Any contact with this fungus will infect the roots of mainly slow-growing trees. The fungus feeds itself to spread below ground by sending out more and more stringy rhizomorphs; the nickname shoestring rot is obvious for anyone that saw the strings in real. The visible "honey mushrooms" produce an abundance of spores, but they probably are not important in the size of the organism. The spores seems a thoughtful diversion of the giant below. And yes, the honey mushrooms are edible and are easy to identify. By eating all the mushrooms we cannot reduce this giant fungus; it is impossible to control in forest stands. In urban areas spread can be reduced by sterilizing the soil before replanting, or by removing dead trees and stumps. Any cultural practices that reduce stress and increase tree vigour is welcome to stop the growth of this largest living organisms in the world.

Some species of Armillaria are bioluminescent and may be responsible for the phenomena known as "foxfire". The greenish light - "foxfire" is given out by the mycelium, the fungal filaments that the earlier mentioned forester found in the wood of the diseased tree. The "touchwood," can be seen to glow fairly bright for one or two weeks, a phenomena which has fed many fantasies and fears. No wonder; imagine one day you come across such a glowing branch which starts to lead you through the forest by night.

Giant Fungus