June 18, Scotch bonnet fungi suddenly appear in pastures and sometimes in fairy-rings

Photos: Linde Dorenbosch, Marion Plesman
Commissioned and Produced by Public Works, Utrecht.

June 18, Marcus Coates organised two performances in the station area to celebrate the arrival of the fairy rings. There is abundant folklore concerning the phenomena of fairy rings - a circle or ring of fungi that can appear overnight from a very few inches or feet to 164 feet (50 meters) or more. According to folklore the rings are caused by fairies dancing. It is generally felt that fairy circles are to be avoided as dangerous places as they’re associated with malevolent beings.

If you dare to enter a ring, many myths warn you will die young. You also become invisible to the mortal world, unable to escape the ring, or you are transported instantly to the fairy realm. You might also lose an eye for your foolishness. Either way, you will be forced to dance around the ring until you die of exhaustion or madness.

Public dance without music: Coates performed a public dance without music in the shopping mall. There were a core group of dancers who moved in any way they wished. Occasionally members of the public would join them. The dance continued without a break for six hours.

Bad advice from the elderly: Other folklore concerning the mushroom rings speaks of witches residing or dancing in the circle. Coates opened a temporary ‘advice desk’ in the Shopping Mall for passers-by, who could get free advice on all their (life) questions. The circular area (domestic rug) was manned by volunteer elderly residents of Utrecht. They offered their wealth of knowledge and life experience in the form of playful advice, some was good and some deliberately bad.