Socialist Herbalism

Histories and Practices of Care in Eastern Europe & the Baltics
Open Call for Gathering, 1-5 May 2023

This is a call for participation in an initial gathering and extended research project that imagines a long-term collaboration with MASSIA, and the emergence of a research network. This collaborative and interdisciplinary project engages with contemporary feminist, queer and disability-informed questions of care, healing and the more-than-human in artistic and community living and practice. It investigates historical European Socialist visions of the environment, science, and the use of alternative medicines, and sets these in conversation with global queer and feminist modalities, imaginations, and practices of care, which revisit herbalism as a community practice.

We warmly invite you to this initial get-together with the intention to start conversation whilst being engaged in practices of communal living and working, as part of the process of being in a temporary collective formation. Sharing can happen in the kitchen, in the garden, whilst handling medicinal herbs from the apothecary, whilst doing some of the never-ending reproductive and care labour that soil, plants, human-made environments with roofs, and our own bodies need.

During this common time we want to:

* start a conversation about what Socialist Herbalism means historically, and in the present, in the Eastern European & Baltic contexts
* share practices & knowledges with medicinal plants and discuss their histories
* initiate a research network for ongoing collaboration
* start a collaborative/co-written entry to submit to platforms that centre practice-as-research
* make a zine/critical mini-atlas together
* read/workshop ideas together/cross-fertilise

Invited guests Ioana Cotulbea & Ilinca Micu (part of Antropoflora and Pojarnitza projects in Romania) will guide workshops on rewriting plant stories and plants as spirit medicine.

The project was started in 2019 and is currently being developed by Miha Brebenel (Winchester School of Art).

You can find more details on the Gathering as well as the research project in this PDF.

Dates: 1-5 May 2023

Expression of interest:
If you would like to attend the gathering in person, please send a max 200-word paragraph about your practices/ research/ research-as practice / practice-as-research and how you resonate with the larger project and the intentions of the gathering by 15 March 2023 to .

There is no charge for attending this gathering, but you would need to cover your own travel and the costs of staying in Massia for the period (15 euro/night) plus a 12 euro membership fee (valid for 12 months). We can organise communal food buying and preparation (this can come up to 35 euro/person depending on the final numbers, up to 12 people).

Travel info is accessible here. Unfortunately, the building is not barrier-free and doesn’t meet accessibility standards. There are no ramps and no elevator. To enter the building, one needs to climb 6 steps, followed by 3cm high thresholds, which are part of the door frames. On the ground floor there are bedrooms, studios, the theater hall, toilets and a shower. The functional rooms are too small for wheelchairs. The kitchens are both located on the upper floor. To get to the 1st floor one needs to climb two flights of stairs.

We aim to make the Gathering accessible in terms of needs around food (dietary requirements, preferences, times of meals), needs around sleeping arrangements, sensory needs, social time/ spending time alone, schedule of activities and timings for these, other commitments that need attended to. We will try to make these decisions together in the time leading up to the meeting and in the first days and allow for flexibility in the schedule we decide on. If you would like to communicate any access needs, please include these in the expression of interest.