This body of work was produced while I was an artist in residence at D’clinic in Zalaegerszeg, Hungary for the month of October, 2018. Prior to arrival I researched Hungarian folklore + rituals of magic from the 18-19th centuries as well as cartographic shifts in political boundaries from the 20th-21st centuries. I focused on imagery, forms and mediums that expressed themes of shifting borders, societal scapegoating, and practices of cultivating an inner mystical power (rites of magic).
One of the stories that I continued to return to was the Szeged Witch Trials of 1728. It was the largest and last witch burning in Hungary (and Europe). Thirteen witches were burned at Witch Island on the Tisza River for the practice of “binding + releasing”, a practice used to control weather patterns and “tie down” rain. The Hungarian region entered a prolonged drought at this time and accused these witches of selling rain off to the Turks.
The practice of “binding + releasing” comes from a social context of commonly practiced techniques to rid of sickness, set positive omens and curse enemies. Cloth, sticks, thread, water, charcoal were all recurrent materials for such rites and involved a specific kind of knot tying, at a certain time of night, on a certain phase of the moon. This mixture of precise body movement through rituals, use of a particular material and suspending action until the ripening of a moon laid the context for what I focused on at D’clinic.
I utilized the medium of cyanotype to layer images that I took of the surrounding area (abandoned architectures of the Cold War era) and objects that represented the practice of “binding + releasing.” My goal was to travel to Witch Island in Szeged to wash the cyanotypes in the waters of the Tisza River, but I did not make it there. Instead I worked with cyanotype from the time of noon-2pm everyday at the studio at the height of the sun. It felt fitting to work with a medium that was bound to the rhythms of the natural environment, just as 18th century sorcery was bound.
In conjunction to cyanotype, I also built a body of illustrations of women’s bodies being bound and suspended by thread. All prints and illustrations were hung in an installation fashion, so that the viewer could walk in between and around flat works. Amongst the illustrations and cyanotype prints, I threaded together fabric and trash in a web like fashion.
Overall, I yearned to construct an environment of micro gestures, disparate yet connected, materialized in the twilight hours of a nonlinear consciousness. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work within the context of a culture and region of ominous histories.
Cyanotype prints + illustrations: