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A Closer Look: The Mushroom Collection

from The Mushroom Collection
The Mushroom Collection is an exhibition catalogue of Jason Fulford's work on exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art through April 8th. Entitled New Pictures 5: Jason Fulford the Mushroom Collection, it is the first museum exhibition of the project that was initially inspired by a gift of a flea market envelope containing 80 or so images of mushrooms, carefully annotated by an obvious collector of fungi. Using these images as a starting point, Fulford made a number of images that riff on elements of the found images, the resulting combination of which became the celebrated book The Mushroom Collector. Association is a big part of this project and in the Minneapolis Institute of Art exhibition Fulford goes beyond his own associative imagery creating interventions in the museums permanent collection as well. In this catalogue, Fulford invites his reader to do the same.

The Mushroom Collection isn't just an exhibition catalogue — it’s also an extension of Fulford’s ever expanding Mushroom Collection project, which now includes several books, sculptures, video and performance pieces. In this small volume, the Mushroom Collection becomes participatory, inviting the reader of the book to contribute by gluing each of the 30 stickers featuring images from the exhibition onto one of the 30 Xs that appear through out the pages of the book (and one on the cover).

from The Mushroom Collection
from The Mushroom Collection
The reader is asked to pair images with a variety of objects, patterns and text: a round stamp reading ‘the pleasures of chaos’ backwards, museum pieces from New Guinea, China and Europe (all with their representative caption), optical patterns, a quotation from William James and a quite lovely looking Smith Corona. It is an experiment designed to play on free association. A number of the objects in the book are from the museum's collection, and at least some of them were items selected by Fulford as he expanded his exhibition — his images sprouting up like spores throughout the collection, creating new ways of seeing old images and objects.

The postage stamp-sized reproductions of the exhibition images are as fun as they are beautiful, and the oppertunity to create an exhibit of this work of one's own curation invites an entirely new way to engage with it. The catalogue is playful and thoughtful -- and I imagine that a collection of these completed catalogues could make for very interesting viewing. -- Sarah Bradley

Purchase a copy of The Mushroom Collection

The video below gives a fascinating glimpse into Fulford's project and exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.