Finna användbarhet i formen (Find usefulness in form), 2017 reconsiders the ‘readymade’ or ‘found object’ to explore (de)composition and capitalist waste. The work positions the ubiquitous detritus of consumerism in dialog with its appropriative counterpart of design/pop aesthetics and mass production. Mushroom symbolism, dumpstered steel grates, and stretched IKEA fabric creates a polyptych that examines use value, formalism, and ideas of waste.
The work was exhibited July 1 - August 3 2021 at Iron Goat Brewery and May 5-31, 2017 at Bon Bon in Spokane, Washington.
Single-channel video projection
A looped single-channel video projection that explores natural assemblage as patterns of unintentional coordination and challenges human authoritative intervention in the natural world. The sub(ob)ject, a wood eating mushroom known as Pleurotus spp., “breathes” with the wind as a tableau vivant before its stark dislocation: picked, harvested, stolen. The film’s long contemplative single take enables viewers to familiarize themselves with the framed natural setting, only to be confronted with loss and subsequent growth.
Exhibited Janurary 2017 in the Standing Rock benefit, Re:defintion, at the Paramount Theater in Seattle, Washington.
Presentation of Preparation for Precipitation:
Introduction to Mushroom Identification for Art Historians, 2015
This 20-minute performance lecture took place in the graduate art history seminar Cold War: Art, Architecture and Global Politics, 1945-1989 at Concordia University in Montréal, Québec on Monday, 20 April 2015. In lieu of the expected conference paper format, I screened a short film that juxtaposed nuclear bomb test footage with 9/11 media coverage. Following the film, I introduced basic techniques for mushroom identification, handed out mushroom field guides and divided the class into small groups. Each group was instructed to identify a different specimen, which were in fact artworks that have taken up the mushroom cloud: Chris Drury, Mushroom Cloud, 2010; Subodh Gupta, Line of Control, 2008; Samson Kambalu, Two Mushroom Clouds, 2011; and Cai Guo-Qiang, The Century with Mushroom Clouds: Playing Cards. After a brief group collaboration, the class reconvened and shared their identifications. To finish the performance, I analyzed eight images of Cai Guo-Qiang's The Century with Mushroom Clouds: Project for the 20th Century, 1996 through a mycological lens and identified each mushroom cloud as a common edible that can be found in and around Montréal. These included Boletus edulis also known as King Bolete, Porcini or Cèpe; Cantharellus cibarius or chanterelle; Hydnum repandum, Hedgehog or Pied de mouton; and others.
Mushroom Resource, 2015 -
Today, mushrooms are replacing Styrofoam as a biodegradable packing material, and are used for cleaning oil spills, filtering contaminated water, mining precious metals from electronic waste, insulating walls, erecting buildings, bio-illuminating advertisements and urban space, altering perception, guiding in spiritual pursuits, treating illness, and of course eaten as food. They surface in the world of contemporary art in equally diverse ways: from the mycoremediative application of the organism itself as taken up by Katherine Ball and Tagny Duff to situations where artists cultivate mushrooms in time-based practice, such as those by Zeger Reyers, Kate Casanova and Klaus Weber. Other artists, like Roxy Paine, use mushroom morphology to address ideas of replication while Anni Ratti’s gallery-cum-laboratory engages multifaceted research on psilocybin. Phil Ross, whose practice is at the forefront of mycotechnology, builds architectural forms using mycelial bricks, while artists such as Fred Tomaselli, Marie Jirásková, and the Russian avant-garde duo Igor Makarevich and Elena Elagina, explore psychedelic folklore and the mushroom as a symbol of hallucination. The breadth of mushrooms in art is unprecedented and thus deserves to be studied as a distinct art historical category.
Mushroom Resource begins this process; it is an archive of mushrooms in contemporary art. Launched in 2015, the webwork is comprised of three distinct components: artworks taxonomically organized by genus; a list of web links; and a bibliography for scholars and enthusiasts interested in further research.
Guelph Mushroom Foray, 2015
Relational performance, Guelph, Ontario
In collaboration with Toronto-based artist, Diane Borsato we facilitated a mushroom foray for her art class at Guelph University. The relational performance took place on October 5 at the outskirts of Guelph Arboretum Nature Reserve and explored the parallels between mushroom hunting and art making, such as acute observation, patience and curiosity. We introduced the basics of mushroom hunting: key morphological features (overall stature of the mushroom, gill attachment, size and color as well as the importance of smell and noting the immediate habitat, possible tree associations, and substrate on which the specimens grow); how to collect and care for the mushrooms while in the field; and sustainable picking practices. We discussed edibility, toxicity, taxonomy, commons names and folklore, and swapped experiences of being in the woods with intentionality. We also explored the relationship of mushrooms to forest ecology and the important distinction between the mycelium as organism and the mushroom as fruit.