ALIAS / Netwerk Kunsthalle Aalst / 2019.
The sonic installation Travelogue of the Wandering Womb, her Fantastic Encounters and Curious Utterings – a collaboration with vocalist and composer Mariske Broeckmeyer – is a response to ancient Greek ideas of the womb as a defective body part. This demonic being would, unless constantly pregnant or moistened with male seed, travel through the body and attack other organs. Exorcisms and fumigations were the prescriptions to steer her back to her rightful place. In Travelogue of the Wandering Womb the womb rebels, imbibes the fumes as fuel, and sets off on a journey to find voice and to create knowledge. For her first Strange Encounter she sets up camp behind the old city hall of Aalst in the proximity of an ancient matriarchal Ginkgo biloba tree. The sound work was set up as a quadrophonic installation inside the tin womb/chapel. At the centre of the space was a round bed.
The work is part of a larger project, Nothing of Importance Occurred: Recuperating a Herball for a 17th seventeenth-century Angolan midwife at the Cape.
In the ALIAS exhibition Morris sets the focus on European sources that might have influenced the knowledge of a seventeenth century African midwife in slavery. Plants with medicinal properties play a significant role. Wendy Morris has, on various locations around the city, set about establishing medicinal herb gardens with plants that have contraceptive effects. The properties of these plants were known to women in the seventeenth century but are no longer common knowledge. Through an urban herbal apothecary she seeks to bring this forgotten knowledge back into circulation. By mining unconventional archives for knowledge, this project seeks to uncover elusive histories.
Credits: Travelogue of the Wandering Womb, her Fantastic Encounters and Curious Utterings (2019). Courtesy Wendy Morris. Vocals and composition: Mariske Broeckmeyer. Notes for the Wandering Womb: Wendy Morris.