Mushrooms & Friends is a photography zine featuring mushrooms from a Brooklyn organic mushroom farm and the forests of Upstate New York. These fungal specimens appear in fantastical landscapes, with their macroscopic details enhanced by dreamlike arrangements. Bathed in technicolor lights, each mushroom evokes a clandestine personality bordering on the majestic and the playful.
But the fantasy treatment underlies something more compelling about these fruiting bodies. Mushrooms are magical–not strictly in the mind-altering sense–but also in their transformative ability to create beauty from rubbish. Often growing on decaying matter and sometimes in collaboration with other plants, they are a model of sustainable living and creative survival, and not to mention, delicious too.
As Anna Tsing writes in The Mushroom at the End of the World: “We are stuck with the problem of living despite economic and ecological ruination. Neither tales of progress nor of ruin tell us how to think about collaborative survival. It is time to pay attention to mushroom picking. Not that this will save us–but it might open our imaginations.”
Phyllis Ma is a New York-based artist working with photography and animation. She is also a co-founder of LAZY MOM, a food art collaboration.
32 pgs, 28 × 21.5 cm, softcover, 2019,