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a battlefield medicinal herb living green under the snow

2021
 
uv plant light, vinyl lettering, wood plinths, potted yarrow plants

dimensions variable
 
Installation for 'Locating Self-Care in Urban Centres', curated by Emma Steen at Collision Gallery, Toronto, ON

A Battlefield Medicinal Herb Living Green Under the Snow is an installation in which sourced yarrow plants sit in custom-printed pots and in conversation with photographs and text. The result is a poetic map to a space of self-care. This work examines the complexities of care and conviviality for Indigenous women in the face of ongoing genocide and the relationship of those complexities to space. 

 

I read a story in Wendy Geniusz’ Keewaydinoquay: Anishinaabe-

mashkikiikwe and Ethnobotanist, about Keewaydinoquay being sent to find yarrow in the winter in order to heal a child. She was skeptical but followed the dried tops of the yarrow and dug underneath the snow. There she found the yarrow in “greenhouse-like conditions” with new green shoots growing (Geniusz, 2005). Yarrow is also known as Achillea millefolium. It is named after Achilles who carried the plant into battlefields in order to treat the wounded and in fact, it’s use for healing in battle is supported by its other names such as soldier’s woundwort and herba militaris.
 

One plant pot shows an abstracted map to Ajijaak Okanin, the Cygnus constellation. The other, the recipe for yarrow tea which is used in part for healing including the bleeding of minor wounds, but also to promote relaxation and as a facial astringent and shampoo  

On November 27th 2021, Anishinaabe creative and dancer Cody Berry Ottertail danced the Ajijaak constellation in the gallery space. “Ajijaak” is translated into English as Sandhill Crane. Cody’s gestures towards Anishinaabe futurity provide a map to help us understand the nature of healing, care and community.

The plinths are designed and made by Michael Dellios.

Images and video by Garcia Creative