“What permits us to love one another and the earth we inhabit is that we and it are impermanent,” Cage once wrote. “We obsolesce. Life’s everlasting. Individuals aren’t. A mushroom lasts only for a very short time.” This line was anthologized, along with much of Cage’s work on mushrooms, in “John Cage: A Mycological Foray,” an art book published last year. As a companion, its publisher, Atelier Éditions, also compiled a boxed set of cards entitled “Every Mushroom Is a Good Mushroom,” pairing Cage’s own recipes with original art. Several of the accompanying works are by Ma, from her “Mushrooms & Friends 2.” One, a composed portrait of four types of mushroom (Amanita pantherina, Hypholoma fasciculare, Amanita muscaria, and Coprinus comatus) arranged atop a table-like double Hemipholiota populnea, tells an entire story in a single frame. The mushrooms (which Ma foraged from a Soviet-era ruin in Berlin’s Grunewald forest) lean and twist expressively. Despite the artificiality of the arrangement, the scene feels somehow candid, a snapshot of a private moment—mushrooms in mid-argument, or mid-song.
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