Mushrooms and books could have more in common than you might think, as artist Melissa Jay Craig’s perceptive installation called (S)Edition illustrates. Consisting of 99 paper mache sculptures of books that appear to be growing out of the walls like mushrooms, Craig explains the connection between fungus and literature in her statement about the work.
A few activities that have been defined as sedition by the United States government: ‘secret machinations’ (Alien and Sedition Act, 1789); ‘teaching, suggesting, defending or advocating any criticism of the government,’ including to ‘utter, print, write or publish’ such ideas (Espionage Act, 1917). More recently, there was ‘domestic terrorism,’ which could easily be interpreted to include environmental and anti-globalization activism (The Patriot Act, 2001). While sedition can consist of overt action, it can also be furtive, undermining from within.
Some people have uneasy, squeamish thoughts when they look at fungus: it’s something surreptitious, uncontrollable; it lives hidden underground in familiar locales, ready to spring to life unexpectedly, and it often manifests itself as part of the demise of another organism.
So, by having books appear to grow out of the walls, Craig seems to be cleverly likening the spread of potentially controversial information through books to the unpredictable proliferation of fungi in nature.
In addition to being made from hand-shaped paper pulp, these sculptures share another notable similarity to books. Amanita muscaria, the distinctive type of mushroom they depict, is most commonly seen in books as a toadstool in traditional fairytale illustrations.