The publication Deliquescing accompanies Steve Bishop's 2018–19 solo exhibition at KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin. Both the exhibition and publication reflect a body of research that focuses on the fragility of memory and the potential for its preservation, defying the gradual breakdown of matter through the effects of time.
The lion's mane mushroom is sought after for its medicinal properties, known for protecting and repairing the mind and memory. Within KW, the artist reconstructed the exact conditions needed to cultivate the mushroom. Its medicinal properties were abstracted and repeated in the space of the gallery—the mushroom held in perfect stasis so that it wouldn't lapse into the entropic process known as deliquescing. Bishop's video work Deliquescing is paired with this regulated climate of cultivation: slow-panning HD shots study an abandoned Canadian mining town, maintained in a Sisyphean fashion by an unseen caretaker, homes still heated, bucolic front yards suspended from entropy, empty storefronts frozen, any sign of decay routinely swept away. This extreme stillness is randomly interrupted by the dashing of an animal, the only “aliveness” that remains.
This publication continues Bishop's research into the lion's mane mushroom and the abandoned town in Canada, including video stills capturing this hauntingly beautiful place as well as photo documentation of the installations at KW. An interview of the artist with KW curator Anna Gritz is featured alongside essays by Gary Zhexi Zhang on a computer program that functions as an archive of “lists of lists”; Orit Gat on her exchanges with Bishop about the phobia of time, jazz standards, and the emotional weight of kitsch; and Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing on the foreign-borne diseases that plague native tree cultures.
Steve Bishop, Orit Gat, Anna Gritz, Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Gary Zhexi Zhang
Copublished with KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin.