Carsten Höller, Experience, 2011


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.