“TO TALK TO THE WORMS AND THE STARS”
THE NEW GALLERY, CALGARY September 15 to October 28
Curator Natasha Chaykowski takes cult book Caliban and the Witch— which investigates how feminist, queer and Indigenous epistemologies are repressed in capitalist structures —as the starting point for this group exhibition.
NATASHA CHAYKOWSKI: IÕM working with artists whose practices are invested in alternative forms of knowing, despite the capitalist impetus to extinguish them. I like to imagine these beautiful magics as being like the resilient tiny plants that grow through the cracks of the hot, dry pavement of a roadña bit romantique, perhaps. Rithika Merchantõs work depicts Hildegard von Bingen, a 12th-century German nun. Though she was entangled in the churchõs initiation of its centuries-long war on women, on queers, on Indigenous people and so many others, she was a medieval protofeminist who made space outside the male monastery for herself and other nuns. The other artists take up subjects as diverse and compelling as mapping dreams that occurred inside fairy circles of mushrooms; the emanation of luminous imprints extruded by a dying leaf, unmoored from its branch; traditional divination technologies and astrology; the politics of ancient Greek feminisms; myriad uses of local herbs; and Indigenous permutations of nonlinear time. The title, ÒTO talk to the worms and the stars, ó comes from Arthur Evansõs Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture, a beautiful work that is a wholesale proposition for inclusive futures predicated upon certain forms of magic and old knowing. If we can re-learn to talk to the worms and the stars, then perhaps we have a chance to become unmoored, even if slightly, from the conþnes of a white supremacist, hetero, cis, capitalist patriarchy whose tendrils extend to every facet of life. Some, however, donõt need to re-learn. Theyõve always known.
Rithika Merchant Hildegard von Bingen 2014