A project about the human connotations we place on the terms invasive and native species in nature, using the blue mussel of Öresund and it's competitor, the pacific oyster as key players in this tension.
Exhibition picture from Locally Alien ecological festival at STPLN, Malmö, part of Southern Sweden Design Days 2023. Photo: Tamara / STPLN
In the research phase of my project, I looked at structures created by man for animal and plant life in the Baltic Sea. When natural domains change, they are replaced artificially.
We almost never see these structures, because they are submerged in the water and for other species to inhabit.
Here is a sandcastle, perhaps the most common structure by water designed by man. You can also see a model of a reef created for cod in the Kattegatt, developed by Ørstedt, and ropes on which blue mussels grow at Naturum Öresund.
On the bottom are oyster shells, this because during next phase of the project (the prints above) I was going explore invasive species, and how they instead take their place uninvited. The Pacific oyster is spreading along the West Coast for better or for worse.
Mytilus is a collection of prints that pay homage to the blue mussels of Öresund. The blue mussel (Mytilus edilus) is an integral part of the strait and its landscape. One can easily imagine the dark blue shells clinging to murky bladder wrack at Ribban beach. The mussels are filter feeders and cleanse water as it passes through them, benefitting the strait at large.
Mytilus showcases the beauty of these quintessential benefactors that pass by unnoticed, but that most Malmöites have some relation to. It also puts the blue mussel in relation to the invasive Pacific oyster which is spreading through the west coast down to Skane. The Pacific oyster competes with the blue mussel for territory and sustenance.
Mytilus prelude. Pre-SSDD in Folkets Park, Malmö, part of Southern Sweden Design Days 2023.
All photos: Daniel Engvall