FUNGICULTURE
A psychedelic journal for cultural studies

Fungiculture Journal is a US/UK based Cultural Studies journal that aims to create a space for experimental, cross-disciplinary writing and research. The first issue of Fungiculture Journal will be launching online this Fall. The theme of the issue is COLLABORATIVE CULTIVATIONS, in which contributors have been asked to submit pieces that they have worked on in collaboration with someone (or something) else.
Keep checking this spot for updates! To get in touch, email hello[at]fufufo[dot]com.
 

 
Part of the aim of Fungiculture is to discuss how philosophy and critical theory actually circulate in the world, whether that's through objects, people, relations, or ephemera. To celebrate the launch of Fungiculture's first issue COLLABORATIVE CULTIVATIONS, we joined the teams behind the Exchange Rates: Bushwick International Expo -- Sluice_, Theodore: Art, and Centotto -- to do a little field research on how, why, where, and when collaboration happens. For the expo, each participating Bushwick gallery and/or project space was asked to host an international gallery and/or project space. Fungiculture will be counting down the days until Exchange Rates kicks off by hosting a different interview with an Exchange Rates participant everyday. Yesterday, Sluice__ co-founder and artist Karl England gave us some great insight into the madness logic behind Sluice__. Today we finish things off with Danish visual arts initiative QWERTY. QWERTY will be participating in the panel discussion Collectives and Collaborations: Artist Groups and Curatorial Partners, on Saturday (25 October) at the Active Space in Brooklyn--so check it out!



 
QWERTY
Under what conditions is collaboration not possible?
With: no love, no wine, no fantasy, no friends, no artists, no body, no brain, no food, no feelings, no money, no music, no movies, no literature, no open mind, no self confidence, no humor, no happiness, no feelings, no trust, no anarchists, no divas, no beer, no craziness, no flow, no will, no sleep
Hannah Arendt recalled her friend and novelist Mary Mccarthy in this way: ‘It’s not that we think so much alike, but that we do this ‘thinking business’ for and with each other’. Shortly before dying, Arendt realized that she was not going to be able to finish editing her last book, The Life of the Mind. She asked Mccarthy to finish it for her. How does “thinking alike” and “thinking together” feed collaboration?
qwerty has existed in 7 years, but the artists in qwerty have collaborated in various other group constellations for many, many years.
We know each other very well, and can easily finish an idea on behalf of the group, if it is required.  In many cases, the group has to take decisions, because everybody isn’t present at all exhibitions.  We trust each other and the decisions, so far so good. It is very important for the flow and the dynamic that we think together, and allow that. We don’t think alike, but we like to think together.
Can you tell us a story about collaboration and romance?
Collaboration should always be a romance.
When we look at a forest, the first thing we see are the trees, individually striving to reach the light.  What we don't see is the massive mychorrhizal network underneath our feet.  While fungal networks cannot produce their own food, they are nonetheless responsible for distributing resources and information throughout the forest: they are the mediators that help the other plants to work together.  What and/or who mediates collaboration, and what are its effects on the process?
It is the personal contact with our audience, which generates new possibilities.  We make a beautiful forest, which attracts people. During the process of exhibiting, we have discovered that our main goal has been the conversation with our audience.
What have you brought with you to Brooklyn? What will you leave there?
We have brought our own art-clothes-fashion-collection, we intend to bargain and exchange a lot of new clothes. We intend to bring home new friendships and clothes that we can take with us to other countries. (We exhibit clothes we exchanged in St. Petersburg and Stockholm).
How does that which is left unsaid permeate the nature of collaboration and how that collaboration works?
If you always say everything you feel, you can’t work together with other people. We try to be stoic and honest at the same time.
 




KARL ENGLAND

Under what conditions is collaboration not possible?
None. Collaboration doesn't rely on conscious or willing partners. A blind or unaware melding of disparate elements still results in a - albeit dysfunctional - collaboration.
Hannah Arendt recalled her friend and novelist Mary McCarthy in this way: ‘It’s not that we think so much alike, but that we do this ‘thinking business’ for and with each other’. Shortly before dying, Arendt realized that she was not going to be able to finish editing her last book, The Life of the Mind. She asked McCarthy to finish it for her. How does “thinking alike” and “thinking together” feed collaboration?
I don't think 'thinking alike' is necessarily beneficial, sparks fly and things happen when opposing forces meet, as long as a functioning coalition can be maintained for a period.
When we look at a forest, the first thing we see are the trees, individually striving to reach the light.  What we don't see is the massive mychorrhizal network underneath our feet.  While fungal networks cannot produce their own food, they are nonetheless responsible for distributing resources and information throughout the forest: they are the mediators that help the other plants to work together.  What and/or who mediates collaboration, and what are its effects on the process?
Everyone that comes into contact with the collaboration has a stake in its outcome, from the viewer to the gallery or event organiser. And by having a stake in the outcome they become a part of the collaboration.
Draw a visual diagram of a collaboration you did for a certain project.
Visual interpretation of Sluice__ as an organism:

Haeckel_Siphonophorae_7

"Haeckel Siphonophorae 7" by Ernst Haeckel - Kunstformen der Natur (1904), plate 7: Siphonophorae (see here, here and here). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - link. 

 


 

BLACKWATER POLYTECHNIC

Under what conditions is collaboration not possible?
To initiate a collaboration you have to be a bit intellectually promiscuous, visually flirty. You have to find common ground and political alignment fairly quickly. It is hard to force collaboration. There has to be a mutual respect. It is no good if one party thinks they are better or more important than the other.
In my experience there is always an ‘uppy' and a ‘downy’ in collaboration, as in extreme sports like mountaineering. The ‘uppy' is the one who appears to make the running and lead, but the ‘uppy’ can only operate with the support consent and springboard of the ‘downy’. The ‘uppy’ and the ‘downy’ are totally symbiotic and both completely essential.
Hannah Arendt recalled her friend and novelist Mary McCarthy in this way: ‘It’s not that we think so much alike, but that we do this ‘thinking business’ for and with each other’. Shortly before dying, Arendt realized that she was not going to be able to finish editing her last book, The Life of the Mind. She asked McCarthy to finish it for her. How does “thinking alike” and “thinking together” feed collaboration?
Our recent work with Wayfarers, Brooklyn, where Ben had an exhibition in May 2014 with Brent Owens was a case of ‘thinking alike’. While we are not completely the same, our ambitions, our values and our artistic approaches married very well.
We find Sluice_ provides a rich mulch for exciting things to happen across a wide spectrum of artistic activity. As Sluice_ events are always more than the sum of their parts both ‘thinking alike’ and ‘thinking together’ burst forth. But there is also contrast and abrasion which I think is good. We at the Polytechnic advocate the primacy of the visual object and revel in objectness, and craft skill, without hierarchy of materials. We feel very comfortable in Brooklyn; fertile ground for a ‘thinking together’ experience.
A big part of our activity is in construction and farming where we practice ‘thinking together’ because it is not possible to build or grow much on one’s own. I’ve just spent the morning discussing varieties of gooseberries to plant for next season.
Can you tell us a story about collaboration and romance?
I once undertook a project with a computer scientist called Hilary Kahn and sociologist and art historian Kris Cohen who was a long time collaborator. Hilary had worked on early computers back in 1950’s. The work was hard for Kris and I had to grasp the detailed technical and conceptual development of computers from 1946 up to about 1960. It was an extraordinarily rich process, understanding how Alan Turing’s hypothetical machine was turned into a physical object. The project never reached a conclusion because Hilary died of breast cancer in 2007. I still mourn her and wish we three had had more time thinking together.
When we look at a forest, the first thing we see are the trees, individually striving to reach the light. What we don't see is the massive mychorrhizal network underneath our feet. While fungal networks cannot produce their own food, they are nonetheless responsible for distributing resources and information throughout the forest: they are the mediators that help the other plants to work together. What and/or who mediates collaboration, and what are its effects on the process?
In our collaborations we tend to work with material and people who are to hand. Collaborations thrive for us when they are logistically straightforward.
Collaborations need space for each person to exercise their superpower.
Time is a great player in collaborations to facilitate assimilation and absorption of ideas. There needs to be time for the coming together, for the falling in love.
Draw a visual diagram of a collaboration you did for a certain project.

1AddingSuperPowers
2008 'Adding Super Powers' Ben Coode-Adams and Tanya Cottingham 

1Converting grain silo
2014, Converting a grain silo to a dwelling: Ben Coode-Adams, Nicol Wilson, Dave Howe, Hudson Architects, Conisbee Engineers

 

1ExploreExpandExchange

2003 'Explore Expand Exchange' Ben Coode-Adams and Brigid Howarth and 3,500 other people

 

1IsSomeoneComing

2003 'Is Someone Coming to Get Me?' A Re-Enactment of the 1996 Everest Disaster, Ben Coode-Adams and Kris Cohen

 



DAVID FRENCH OF DURDEN AND RAY

Under what conditions is collaboration not possible?
For me I have to like the person with whom I may collaborating. And I have to be sure that what they want is an open ended collaboration. If I do not like the person or trust their motives I will not do it. Sometimes people have asked me to collaborate when all they really want is to use my skill set to produce their idea.
Hannah Arendt recalled her friend and novelist Mary McCarthy in this way: ‘It’s not that we think so much alike, but that we do this ‘thinking business’ for and with each other’. Shortly before dying, Arendt realized that she was not going to be able to finish editing her last book, The Life of the Mind. She asked McCarthy to finish it for her. How does “thinking alike” and “thinking together” feed collaboration?
For me, I suppose thinking alike and/or together helps fuel confidence to go forward...Armed with the knowledge that I am able to trust the person also with whom I am collaborating.
When we look at a forest, the first thing we see are the trees, individually striving to reach the light. What we don't see is the massive mychorrhizal network underneath our feet. While fungal networks cannot produce their own food, they are nonetheless responsible for distributing resources and information throughout the forest: they are the mediators that help the other plants to work together. What and/or who mediates collaboration, and what are its effects on the process?
Necessity for survival in the art world is fueling our collaboration, I feel. Simply being a solo artist hoping to be represented by a gallery is no longer a viable option for today's 'artist'. With thousands upon thousands of art students leaving college every year, more and more artists are banding together to form unions in which to organize themselves.
For non-­Bushwick galleries: What have you brought with you to Brooklyn?
Well, I feel I will bring obviously my artists group,­ our work, our vision--both collective and stylistic--and our professionalism. We have participated in other shows and each one, though different, has always generated much excitement and enthusiasm for our work and our artists and by definition art practice itself.
What will you leave in Bushwick?
Some catalogues we intend to produce, a sense of optimism





CHARLIE LEVINE

Under what conditions is collaboration not possible? 
Enforced isolation
Hannah Arendt recalled her friend and novelist Mary McCarthy in this way: ‘It’s not that we think so much alike, but that we do this ‘thinking business’ for and with each other’. Shortly before dying, Arendt realized that she was not going to be able to finish editing her last book, The Life of the Mind. She asked McCarthy to finish it for her. How does “thinking alike” and “thinking together” feed collaboration?
Thinking alike and together, for me, feed massively into the collaborative process. Within Sluice Ben, Karl and I all come from very different background with very different experiences and most of the time it’s about thinking together. We have a shared goal and we work collaboratively to achieve it by using our individual skills and promoting our individual knowledge and experience as well as challenging each other – it’s not always a simple and appeasing journey.
When we look at a forest, the first thing we see are the trees, individually striving to reach the light. What we don't see is the massive mychorrhizal network underneath our feet. While fungal networks cannot produce their own food, they are nonetheless responsible for distributing resources and information throughout the forest: they are the mediators that help the other plants to work together. What and/or who mediates collaboration, and what are its effects on the process?
For Exchange Rates this is quite an easy one to answer, the galleries that have been partnered and will be exhibiting are the trees, the network beneath their feet are made up of the Sluice team, Karl mostly with me and Ben and then state side we linked with Stephanie Theodore (Theodore:Art) and Paul D’Agostino (Centotto). Without this ‘fungal’ team the above the surface display wouldn’t be seen.
How does that which is left unsaid permeate the nature of collaboration and how that collaboration works?
I don’t know, I’m pretty talkative and don’t tend to leave things unsaid...



 
SUSAN SURFACE OF GENERIS GALLERY
Under what conditions is collaboration not possible?
Collaboration is impossible when there is an immutable vertical power imbalance between anyone involved. We might all be working together, sharing credit, making things happen, or contributing, but that isn't collaboration.
When we look at a forest, the first thing we see are the trees, individually striving to reach the light.  What we don't see is the massive mychorrhizal network underneath our feet.  While fungal networks cannot produce their own food, they are nonetheless responsible for distributing resources and information throughout the forest: they are the mediators that help the other plants to work together.  What and/or who mediates collaboration, and what are its effects on the process?
This raises my concerns and ongoing internal dialogue about collaboration. I love taking every chance for artists to build each other up.
Yet I struggle to reach out to collaborators sometimes, asking people to commit their valuable time, labor, intellects, and emotional, material and financial resources to something. When you're socialized as a cis woman, you learn to take care of everyone's needs before your own. It's a way of teaching people to stay in line, so we internalize "no" and cut ourselves off before we ever try to do anything. I've grown a lot with folks in the disability and queer & trans people of color communities, like Sins Invalid, Nomy Lamm, and Kay Ulanday Barrett. They show how it's a form of strength, not only a sign of weakness, to be able to ask for help and support when you need it. When you go at other people as a collaborator instead of eyeing them as competitors, you can be assured that you're held up by a community that cares and will provide, who trusts that you will contribute too in the way and degree to which you're able, when and if you're able.
It's both positive and negative how "collaboration" can be a tactic for risk management. I worry about my own motives, and check myself to see if I'm trying to mitigate individual responsibility out of fear - and if so, whether the fear is justified or if it is ridiculous. The formation of collectives, especially anonymous ones, in order to do "risky or experimental" work, can be either absolutelynecessary or a questionable device to avoid confrontation and/or draw attention to yourself, depending on why it's done.
It's necessary for people of color, women, low income people, and others on the margins to take credit for our own contributions and ideas, instead of being subsumed into undifferentiated, anonymized masses. At the same time, beware of the pressure to assimilate to the ideal of heroic rugged individualism. Always negotiate that balance. It's very zen in that it's possible to be self-contained, growing your inner world, because you recognize you're part of a vast, interconnected living system, the forest and the trees.
What are you hoping your collaborator(s) leave behind?
Tacoma Attitude.
How does that which is left unsaid permeate the nature of collaboration and how that collaboration works?
The action of leaving things unsaid indicates a trust and respect for others' motives and intellects. It invites intellectual engagement/interpretation, and positions the audience as collaborator.


Editor's Note: This interview was wrongly attributed to Mary Coyne of Pseudo Empire Gallery; it is actually with Susan Surface of Generis Gallery in Brooklyn. 


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