The smoke of burned witches still hangs in our nostrils
Thu 1 June 2023
Image from Mouthless I, courtesy of the artist. Visual design by Urtė Račiūnaitė.
Stretch, fold; twist to unravel anew.
Collective Dreaming is a three-part screening and research programme that weaves together Scottish, Ukrainian and Lithuanian moving images and thoughts in search of connection and collective liberation. Conceived in response to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the programme aims to question colonial, capitalist, and patriarchal systems of power to make sense of our current reality - a reality that we share, yet all experience from different perspectives. In this context, we look at art as a method to open ourselves up to new possibilities of thinking, relating and collaborating.
In the early days of anthropology, magical thinking became a marker of difference between the Western and non-Western thought. Magic is what does not align with the measurements of modern science. Magic shows just how strange and vast the world is and thus receives much opposition from those that claim to know the world and demand to control it. Taking our title of ‘the smoke of burned witches still hangs in our nostrils’ from American ecofeminist Starhawk, with this second programme we will take a look into historical and personal stories about magic and smell their reverberations in the present.
The screening starts with Will Their Fires Keep You Warm (Anika Ahuja, 2020). With the sight of burning dung from the sacred Hindu cow, it touches upon the issue of taxonomies and fitting into categories that do not align with the curvature of an individual spine. Some fires are smouldering, some fires feed their flaming tongues by swallowing bodies. Elaborating on the latter, Dorota Gawęda and Eglė Kulbokaitė introduce us to a fragmented folk horror narrative titled Mouthless I (2020). Based on historical events and mythic tales, the work weaves together references of witch trials in and around the Fribourg area, Eastern European folklore, magical rites, and contemporary healing practices. Scaling down to a personal story about witchcraft, we finish the programme with Vaseline (Mathew Wayne Parkin, 2018). It is a portrait of a late grandmother who, among many other roles and activities, practiced magic.
This screening will be followed by a conversation. It is free to attend, however, we would like to encourage the audience members to donate what they would otherwise be paying for a ticket to NGO Insight, an organisation supporting LGBTQI+ people during the war in Ukraine. There will be a donation box and a QR code in the screening room, or click here to donate now.
This programme is organised in partnership with the Lithuanian Culture Institute and Lithuanian Culture Attaché in London.
Curated by Julija Šilytė & Milda Valiulytė.
Part of Collective Dreaming