Travelogues of the Wandering Womb

The Travelogues are a part-fictional component within the project.

The Matriarchal Gingko

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 and 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 and the quadrophonic audio work made by Mariske Broekmeyer and organised fumigation gatherings in the space between the cabin and the tree.

To the Copper Mountains

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 was again at the centre of the installation.

To the Copper Mountains is the first leg of a return to Angola. On Signal Hill above Cape Town the Wandering Womb invokes Maaij Claesje as the spirit-being !midwif and, following the high ground, they set off for the Kamiesberg, Namaqualand. On the ground Orlando, as illustrator, apothecary, botanist, journal keeper and preternaturalist, is part of the 1685 expedition of the governor Simon van der Stel to the Copper Mountains. Muriel, as Emissary to the Past and the writing hand, is (re)working the archives. Together with Ear – who listens for the Unsaid – Wandering Womb, Orlando, Muriel and !midwif make up the Company, a constellation of organs and entities

The Travelogues are fictitous narratives being written as sixty stories for the Lost Volumes. This Travelogue to the Copper Mountains is a retracing of the Simon van der Stel expedition of 1685 narrated from different perspectives. It is a work of return and repair.

The Return

We are picking a path northwards, along sandy tracks and mountain passes. This is an…

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