Kate Casanova
Vivarium Americana
1976 AMC Pacer, oyster mushrooms
2013

Vi·var·i·um
an enclosed environment, as a glass container, in which plants or animals are raised under conditions that approximate their natural habitat [1]
A·mer·i·ca·na
materials concerning or characteristic of America, its civilization, or its culture; things typical of America [2]

Vivarium Americana is a sculptural work by visual artist Kate Casanova in which the interior of a car has become overgrown with live oyster mushrooms. The car is a black, 1976 AMC Pacer with large bulbous windows that earned it the nickname, The Terrarium. Inside the car, white, trumpet-like, oyster mushrooms sprout from the upholstered seats.

Vivarium Americana is a contemporary metaphor for the relationship between humans and the nonhuman world. The car, the vivarium, and fungi are entities through which we can examine this ever-changing relationship. The car with it’s protective exterior and soft interior is a stand-in for the body. The traditional concept of an autonomous body is complicated by the colonization of fungi within. The fungi act as catalysts for evaluating posthumanism and the rhizome as viable ways to conceptualize our place amongst other species. Phenomenology and affect can further our understanding of the rhizomatic relationships between nonhuman bodies.

This website is a clustering of mini-essays and a companion piece to the sculptural work. The format functions like the rhizomatic structure of mushroom mycelium by allowing the reader to navigate through the interconnected essays via hypertext in a non-hierarchical fashion. The diversity of concepts overlap and interweave creating new forms that emerge unexpectedly like mushrooms after a rain.

_______________________________________________________________

[1] "Vivarium," The Free Dictionary, The Gale Group, Inc, n.d., Web, Mar 2013.

[2] "Americana," Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, n.d., Web, Mar 2013.