The Wandering Womb stuttered into existence on the Remington typewriter as a ‘lyric’ for an audio work. In the research into medical histories of women going back to Aristotle and the Hippocratic corpus, I was constantly confronted with views on the female body as having a faulty part – the womb. According to these sources the womb was a beast that would leap upwards and attack other organs. The language describing this demonic wandering womb was outrageously funny and on the Remington I typewrote it into rhythmic verse. It became an audio work arranged and sung by Mariske Broeckmeyer which then developed into idea of the Travelogues of the Wandering Womb. If the womb could not stay in place to procreate, then let her travel!
The first Travelogue of the Wandering Womb, Her Fantastic Encounters and Strange Utterances was an Encounter with the Matriarchal Gingko tree of Aalst in the 2019 exhibition Alias, Netwerk Aalst. In ancient Greek medicine the wandering womb was considered to be sentient, a nose that could smell. Remedies to lure it back to its rightful place in the body included fumigations. Rank, vile and putrid smells were held to the nose to repel the womb and drive it back down to the flanks. Sweete smells were placed at the vagina to tempt it in the same direction. For a prolapsed womb the order of smells was reversed. With this in mind the Encounter with the matriarchal Ginkgo biloba tree in Aalst was going to one of smell. Female ginkgo trees produce seeds containing butyric acid that smell like vomit. In Aalst at the time of the exhibition this tree behind the city hall was producing an abundance of seed. We constructed a wooden cabin facing the tree that contained a circular bed to hold the quadrophonic audio work, The Wandering Womb, made together with Mariske Broekmeyer, and organised fumigation gatherings in the space between the cabin and the tree.
The second Travelogue of the Wandering Womb, Her Fantastic Encounters and Strange Utterances: To the Copper Mountains is an ongoing work that will eventually have a series of manifestations in Namaqualand, South Africa. Since travel has been impossible in 2020 and 2021 the work is developing vicariously both in exhibition form and as narrative in the Lost Volumes. In 2021 it was a part of the exhibition No One Would Have Believed, Netwerk Aalst. Mariske Broeckmeyer and I created a second audio work, again a quadrophonic piece, this time using both of our voices and introducing the voice of Michele Burgers. The circular bed – giving off the sweete fumes of wild plants like Mugwort, Tansy, Meadowsweet and Melilot that filled its hollow structure – was again at the centre of the installation.
They are not called Lost Volumes for nothing! Number 3 has arrived in Fernanda Pitta’s postbox in Sao Paulo at last, but numbers 1 & 2 (and 4, 5 & 6) are still lingering in a postbag somewhere.
Work / Abstract: The seeds of Wild Carrot / / 2021 / Multiple of 6 / Blue print on foxed pages of La Pluie et le Beau Temps by Arthur Mangin