Relanding with Mugwort

Relanding with Mugwort (2014) is the 3rd edition of Brew Pub, a journal in the form of a beer whose contents, labelling, and other printed and online materials constitute the contents of the publication. Created in collaboration with the STAG Library (artists Aja Rose Bond & Gabriel Saloman), curator cheyanne turions, and brewer Eric Emery.

This edition of the journal explores a relationship with Artemisia vulgaris via an ancestral reconnection ritual + beer tasting. Commonly known as mugwort, this plant is a so-called invasive species which has spread from Eurasia across Canada, flourishing in urban spaces that have been altered by human intervention such as abandoned lots, railroads, and roadsides. Mugwort has deep roots in traditional European medicine, relieving fatigue and calming the nerves, promoting lucid dreams, and acting as an abortifacient. Mugwort also has been used in traditional gruit recipes (beer-like fermented drinks) as a preservative agent akin to hops—but with a more psychoactive than sedative vibe.

Through this project, my collaborators and I consider how mugwort can provide an entry-point into ancestral connection practices that unsettle settler colonialism. Our inquiry began with the development of a beer using wild-harvested mugwort from the city of Toronto, land with which the Huron, Haudenosaunee, and Anishinaabe peoples have a long, historic and profound relationship. The beer became the centrepiece of a series of small rituals, held offsite as part of the exhibition TBD at the MOCCA (Toronto), curated by Su-Ying Lee.

In the space of the participatory rituals, mugwort held space for us to take root in place, connect with traditions across distances and back in time, and cultivate these teachings in the present in order to renew our relationship to place. The horizon: cultivating the collective emotional intelligence and capacity to account for our responsibility in unsettling the culture of settler colonialism.

The STAG Library (Aja Rose Bond and Gabriel Saloman) and Gina Badger, with cheyanne turions and Eric Emery, Brew Pub 3: “Relanding with Mugwort,”  2014.

Feature image (at top): Mugwort beer in process. Photo by Gina Badger

Mugwort altar, September 2014; Brew Pub performance documentation. Photo by Gina Badger
Mugwort altar detail, September 2014; Brew Pub performance documentation. Photo by Gina Badger
Installation detail. Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, September 2014; mugwort distribution map by Gina Badger. Photo by cheyanne turions

To learn more about this project see:

Su-Ying Lee, TBD exhibition brochure, 2014.

Erin Silver, “Mending Walls: Imagining the Sovereign Subject in Contemporary Exhibition Practices,” Narratives Unfolding: National Art Histories in an Unfinished World, ed. Martha Langford (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017), 305–324.

cheyanne turions, TBD blog entry, 2014.