Lichen in Love

Karolina Ferenc (Amsterdam, Netherlands)


The urgency behind this project comes from the problems contextualized in the Anthropocene. Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen claims, that the Anthropocene is a period when ‘humans are becoming dominant force for change on Earth’, and where ‘we are taking control of Nature’s realm, from climate to DNA’. However, thanks to the science and technology it becomes evident, that this profound impact on the Earth put the lives of many species, including our own, under a great threat and humans’ ability to control these actions is rather fragile. Strangely enough, the Anthropocene become an evidence of humans’ limitations and weaknesses. To move beyond the anthropocentrism, societies must recognize the creative agency of the nonhuman other – a tree, a plastic bag or a weather, and that the systems of humans and nonhumans are inseparable. Design as a human-oriented practise is an actor which belongs to the Anthropocene. In order to address complex issues of the Anthropocene, design has to include the agencies of nonhumans. To connect with nonhumans, people need emotional and empathetic openness towards all beings. Love in this project means to go beyond utilitarian and exploitative discourse around the nonhumans. Love becomes a gesture of sincerity in recognizing oneself as one amongst many intimately attached species and objects, which are far beyond our control.


Lichen in Love is a speculative scenario about a new relationship between a human and a nonhuman other. Project consists of a set of quasi-scientific objects, animations, visuals and love letters reflecting the growing intimacy, affection and friendship between woman and lichen.

Lichen is a plant-like symbiotic partnership between alga and fungus. As a pioneer organism lichen colonises areas uninhabitable for other live forms. Lichen is one amongst many organisms affected by the Anthropocene. Lichen in this project represents a nonhuman other excluded from human-centred and masculinist worldview of Western modernity.

In a view of Donna Haraway we’ve always been lichens – multiplication of symbiotic organisms with porous border between one organism and another, therefore our separation from other than human forms of live and non-life seem impossible.

Lichen in Love offers a glimpse of possible transition towards the Post-anthropocene era characterises by interspecies engagement, empathy and inclusiveness. To enter this world one needs emotional intimacy with nonhuman beings. Lichens are extensively studied and adored by a part of scientific community, their knowledge about lichens served as a frame for this emotional and sensual love story.


Karolina Ferenc is a Polish interdisciplinary artist interested in all aspects of anthropocentrism and the Anthropocene known as the Era of Man. She uses design as a tool to question and speculate about contemporary relationship between human and the Other, in its social and emotional dimension. Her projects question our uniqueness as a specie and explore connections in human/nonhuman relationships.Currently Karolina graduates from Social Design at Design Academy Eindhoven with nomination to Gijs Bakker Award. She works and live in Amsterdam.

Balance-Unbalance 2017

Balance-Unbalance (BunB)
is an International Conference designed to use art as a catalyst to explore intersections between NATURE, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY and SOCIETY as we move into an era of both unprecedented ecological threats and transdisciplinary possibilities.

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