Aranya Art Center is pleased to present Chinese artist Michelle Wang Yiyi's first solo exhibition, featuring her recent sculpture series Petriceps and photography series Cordyceps. The artist considers fungi to be a medium in which she establishes in-depth communication with nature. Through hyphae, fungi bio-hacks into host organisms to break down and transcribe their secrets. The message extracted from the host is then presented in the form of mushrooms, reflecting the symbiotic network and intricate system between interspecies interactions.
The work in this exhibition is inspired by Cordyceps, also called Chong Cao (Caterpillar herb) in Chinese. For years, it was classified as an herb, as the result of fungi being misclassified as plants in early taxonomy. The artist cultivated several species of parasitic fungi that live on a rock-formed host and named them Petriceps, or Shi Hua (Rock Flower) to respond to this 'scientific error.' In the Petriceps series, the artist attempts to train fungi to grow in clay by inoculating them into her sculptures. The life cycle of a Petriceps completes when mushrooms surface from the host. She then covers the mushrooms in more clay to preserve their shape and loads them into the kiln. The body of the mushroom burns out during the firing, leaving fossil-like evidence of its biological existence on sculpture surfaces. In the Cordyceps series, the artist explores the entangled relationships between arthropods and fungi. To create this series of works, she hiked through Anhui, Zhejiang, Yunnan, and other provinces, accumulating materials during forest field trips. Through the perspective of ecology, the exhibition is seen as an experiment in which the artist collaborates with fungi, each using its own unique linguistic system.
Michelle Wang Yiyi, born in Nanjing in 1988, lives and works in Shanghai. The exhibition is the first presentation in Gallery 0, Aranya Art Center's newly opened independent project space. The exhibition is on view from March 12 through June 25, 2023.
Press release courtesy Aranya Art Center.