The body of work presented in Symbiotic Structures is the result of Eriksmoen engaging in an ongoing dialogue with Dr. Anne Pringle in an attempt to understand the complexities and mysteries of lichens and their unique symbiotic associations of fungi and algae. Using abandoned and broken wood furniture scavenged from streets and basements in Madison, Eriksmoen deconstructed and reconfigured timber parts following the prompt, “what would lichens do?”
Mutualists (2020). Salvaged wood furniture, acrylic and milk paints, oil finish.
The defining characteristic of lichens is that they are an association of different species symbiotically co-dependent on each other. The pairing consists of a fungus (the mycobiont) comprising the dominant structural body, and an algae or cyanobacterium (the photobiont) which provides the food for both by producing the nutrient chlorophyll. The association is often interpreted as a mutualism.
The original found garden bench could not function independently. While the slatted seat was still intact, the leg structures were broken and beyond repair due to rot. Eriksmoen constructed an exoskeleton to scaffold and support the original bench, transferring the weight-bearing load to the supplementary legs. The two separate entities meld in the extended bench seat with slats continuing nearly to the ground.