The Art World’s Strangest New Trend—Fermentation by Siobhan Leddy
Philippe Parreno recently filled the vast Turbine Hall at London’s Tate with his work Anywhen (2016–17). It featured yeast colonies, which Parreno turned into the conductors of an ever-changing symphony, enabling them to control a shifting constellation of objects, sounds, and lights. Roof sensors registered climatic conditions—whether heavy rain or, less likely in London, blistering sun—and fed the data back to the yeast through a computer. This was then relayed to the wire-suspended objects, setting them into motion. Through his bio-choreography, Parreno illustrated the interconnectedness of all things.
These artists are thematically and stylistically distinct from one another. Yet their experiments in fermentation point to a consistent desire to embrace our biological complexity and entanglement. The world is sticky and messy, ripe with a musty funk. We humans do not sit at the center of it all; we are one part of a grubby assemblage. We are plural rather than singular—and sipping on sour kombucha, or placing fat chunks of kimchi between our teeth, is a delicious kind of surrender.