to pass through two doors at once
Solo exhibition at the Lionel Rombach Gallery, Tucson, AZ
November 9 - December 15, 2023
Learn more about this project at twodoorsatonce.com.
You are presented with two doors: which way do you go?
In the book, Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Works, Change Our Minds, & Shape Our Futures, Merlin Sheldrake asks us to envision splitting ourselves in two and simultaneously taking a step through both gateways. This improbable action mirrors the growth of mycelial hyphae which, when confronted with an obstacle, explore all paths available to them, branching into two, four, eight, in an endless pursuit of expansion. Elaborate webs form, but they remain connected.
Mycelium is the basis of all life on our planet and embody an array of contradictions. It can appear as both multiple organisms and as one, create life and promote decay, give nutrients, and extract them. Entangled in almost every ecosystem, mycelium holds soils together, forms symbiotic relationships with 90% of plants and accelerates decay while making space for new life to emerge. Created in collaboration with these complex and contradictory networks,To Pass Through Two Doors at Once, offers a physical metaphor for human interaction with the natural world.
Mycelial hyphae grow endlessly, forming tight webs that bind material together as the enzymes they secrete start to decompose the substrate they live within. Utilizing this natural process, I forced the mycelium to grow into standardized block forms. While I ultimately held power over this living material– manipulating it into molds and deciding when to stop its growth– the mycelium behaved in surprising ways– requiring me to cede control to the material’s natural tendencies. Under the right circumstances, the mycelium continued to thrive even after I removed it from any moisture, developing unique colors across the surface of the bricks, and sprouting fruiting bodies.
The push and pull between me and the mycelium mimic the fallible attempts of human authority over the environment. Through this work, I examine the frailty of structures imposed onto uncontrollable spaces and the errant attempt at systemized power over the landscape. Eventually installed permanently at The Land With No Name, an outdoor sculpture sanctuary, the structure will invite both new life and decay as the material begins the decompose. The evolving sculpture illuminates how natural organisms will continue to evade restraint for as long as we continue to attempt to restrain them.
To Pass Through Two Doors at Once proposes that from the rubble we have created, life will prevail.
To Pass Through Two Doors at Once
Mycelium, hemp hurd, and steel
40”w x 56”h x 64”d each
Living Block, I-IV
Mycelium, hemp hurd, water, filter, plexiglass, and oak frame
21”w x 13”h x 13” d each
Photos by Benjamin Davis.