Grimoire takes its name from books of incantations and magic often written in cryptic language to protect its authorship and readers. The term as I use it, originates in 18th century France; however, books of magic have been dated as far back as ancient Mesopotamia, or modern day Iraq.
I use this name to refer back to the history of oppression through means of accessible healthcare and its relationship to the fear of autonomous women through history. My survey begins in the 3000s B.C.E. and continues to the present. Since 2015, I have been working on a book that interweaves a timeline with excerpts from texts mentioned, quotes from figures listed, mythological ties, and various drawings and physical properties of plants and herbs used throughout. Because the book has no natural ending, I continuously research in order to update it every year.
I have made the book available for free download on my website, as a way to ensure its accessibility and utilisation outside of an art-space. Because medicinal plants require caution and their misuse can be very dangerous, I have omitted actual recipes for creating any potentially harmful concoctions have instead invested research into creating a comprehensive, international resource section at the back of the book.
This evolves just as my research does. These histories are not mine and I seek no ownership over them, I only wish to shed light on the power oppressed peoples had through this knowledge, the ability to make decisions, and how these things have been utilised to control women, societies and entire civilisations throughout history.
In iterations until now, I have shown these plants pressed in plexi-glass slides, and have offered pomegranate seeds dispersed in medicine cups in a minimal, clinical fashion. I believe referencing the occult without engaging in costumed depictions helps to dismantle fears of or preconceived notions of the subject. In addition, the display being clinical aims to bridge homeopathy, herbal medicine, witchcraft, shamanism, and technological health care.
Women in positions of healing, are typically classified into many polarized archetypes—hags, sexy nurses, cartoons—I hope to present the power to heal or maintain one’s own body as a powerful, positive alternative instead of reaffirming any of these stereotypes.