March 4th – May 17th, 2020
Serpentine Sackler Galleries

About the Exhibition

Cambio (from the medieval Latin cambium, “change, exchange”) is an ongoing investigation conducted by Formafantasma into the extraction, production and distribution of wood products. The industry’s tentacular supply chains has grown out of the bioprospecting that took place throughout colonial territories during the nineteenth century, and has affected the entire biosphere.
The exhibition aims to put into question the role that design can play in translating emerging environmental awareness into informed, collaborative responses.
Cambio also references the membrane that runs around the trunk of trees, the function of which is to produce wood (xylem) on the inside and bark (phloem) on the outside. The organisation of the exhibition follows the concentric structure of the cambium layer: at the centre of the gallery, two rooms will present interviews with specialists, and lms made by Formafantasma in response, which scrutinise wood as biological archive that stores data and narratives within its tissues. The outer spaces of the gallery will present a selection of objects from historical collections of wood samples and contemporary furniture that exemplify the structure of the current timber industry and which look beyond it, into the inner life of trees.
These case studies explore instead the ways in which trees have been conceptualised by different disciplines, from an extraction – driven understanding of forest ecosystems to a renewed understanding of the philosophy and politics of plants.