Annie Dunning
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installation installation
buttons button set installation
buttons button set installation buttons
Foolproof Four: Superheroes of the Forest Floor
2010, 4 Ceramic Mushrooms, 4 Posters, 1" buttons, handmade rugs
Dubbed the "Foolproof Four" in 1943 by Professor Clyde Christensen, Morel, Shaggy Mane, Puffball and Sulfur Shelf mushrooms are the most common and easily identified edibles hunted by amateur mycologists. The term "Foolproof Four" led me to consider mushrooms as actual superheroes of the natural world. Like all fungi, these mushrooms contribute to planetary survival by providing the imperative function of decay. Culturally, they are weighted with similar dark, mysterious and supernatural characteristics as bats, spiders and cats, on which popular comic book superheroes have been based.

Foolproof Four: Superheroes of the Forest Floor is an installation of four large ceramic sculptures of the mushrooms, each sitting on a low plinth. On the wall behind the mushrooms are four different posters of blank, speech bubble templates: downloadable, freeware graphic tools for comic book designers. Around the base of each mushroom and on the floor are hundreds of custom-made buttons. Possible "superpowers" of the Four are suggested by words on the buttons: Autodeliquescence (self-digestion), Telemorph, Spore Liberation and Cytoplasmic Fusion, which are terms I have taken from the scientific descriptions of the life cycle of mushrooms. Perhaps Shaggy Mane with its curious character of autodeliquescence is a force to be reckoned with. And surely they have the united power of spore liberation. Two other sets of buttons are also included: superhero logos for each of the mushrooms, and empty speech bubbles in four different styles taken from comic book templates. The buttons themselves look like mushrooms multiplying and popping up from the floor, spreading and intermingling with the buttons of the other mushrooms. Viewers are invited to take a button, allowing the project to travel outside of the gallery as a parallel to the asexual reproductive cycle of fungi.