Johann Nortje’s latest body of work examines the concepts of growth and connection, from both a personal and physical perspective.
The Tree Internet, the ‘wood wide web’, refers to the mutually-beneficial relationship between plants and the chthonic mycelium that help them communicate – a vast, hidden network stretching for kilometres underground. The organisms rely on each other for growth, sharing nutrients and information (text continues below).
For Pretoria-based Nortje, contemporary human life conversely promotes compartmentalisation. Despite having our own internet, our connections are often superficial and self-serving, leading to a lack of responsibility. We avoid growth because it is painful. We avoid sharing for fear of insufficiency. Unfortunately the effects of this narrow-mindedness affect not only ourselves.
Nortje’s collection of human busts with fungal spores mushrooming through their skin are an encouragement to shift our perception. To extend beyond our own limits, to grow and unite, to consider the consequences of our actions. Seemingly separate organisms are often connected, and may depend on each other – humans are a part of this.