Mongrels at Issue Project Room, April 16 & 17 2011
Initially held the weekend of April 16-17, 2011, in Brooklyn, New York, Mongrels is a field botany tour followed by a screening of a short video work and reception. Mongrels calls on mapping, folk herbalism, field recordings, and moving images to conjure the ghosts of a paved-over salt marsh, the ecological feature that dominated the Brooklyn area of Gowanus up until its industrialization. Mongrels urges us to consider the past a key source of information that can help us construct recuperative ecologies in the present.
The walking tour maps the presence and location of weed par excellence, mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), casting it as both witness to colonization and potential agent of social change. During the reception, we ingest mugwort in the form of herbal bitters, consummating our new relationship with this fierce plant. The video mashes up ghostly abstracted images of the Gowanus canal, the sounds of an early spring day in Gowanus, and the words of Dori Midnight as she describes her therapeutic practice, in which the history shared by humans and plants plays a key role. In Mongrels, mugwort becomes a keystone, opening the way for spectral imaginings—a form of time travel.
Review by Reena Katz in cmagazine 111: libraries
Interview with Dori Midnight for No More Potlucks
I am grateful to Dori Midnight, Eymund Diegel, Issue Project Room, Proteus Gowanus, Halo Halo, Nika Khanjani and Adam Rosadiuk for their support and insight.