“Ted found a manila envelope full of mushroom pictures at a flea market in New York. Why did he give me this treasure? I already owe him for so many things.” Jason Fulford’s question rings out from the pages of his most recent book, The Mushroom Collector. Known both as a photographer and as a publisher (J&L Books, a Photography in Print favorite) for his precise and confident eye, Fulford’s query seems almost ironic. But as one moves through The Mushroom Collector’s elliptical and thoughtful narrative, it becomes abundantly clear that Fulford is truly working through something.
The gift of the unassuming mushroom pictures permeate the entirety of the book, and about half-way through the larger design of the work reveals itself. The visual narrative of the book begins by offering us moments: a parade, a facade of a house, a car (or “an abstract wish,” writes Fulford). It is only in the second half of the book that we are invited into the photographer’s internal universe, where objects from the material world are explored deeply and critically in the artist’s studio. You can almost feel the images vibrate with excitement as analogues emerge between Fulford’s own work and the mushroom pictures. It is electrifying to watch an artist decode and develop his own visual language within the pages of The Mushroom Collector. Alec Soth insists that this is not only the top photo-book for the year, but one of his all time favorites. We at PIP couldn’t agree more–go out and Collect!
The Mushroom Collector was printed by the Soon Institute in Amsterdam, where Fulford was involved in a 5-week residency in 2010. PIP can’t get enough of the work coming out of the Netherlands at the moment–we will continue to keep you tuned in and our eye towards the North Sea.