From Pest to Power
Natasha Tontey / Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Anna Tokareva / London, UK — Jan 9, 2019
I will build an archive of recipes, spells, performances, images, and text towards a proposal for a Baba Yaga Myco Glitch.
Unlike other dutiful female characters of Russian folklore, Baba Yaga is a powerful, anarchic witch. She lives alone in the woods; rejects household labour, repurposing the mortar and pestle for high-speed transportation, with broom as anti-tracking device; commands the undead; cannibalises. Baba Yaga is shape-shifting and gender-ambiguous, by turn gatekeeper, helper, or child eater. In her spirit, I propose Baba Yaga Myco Glitch, acts of refusal that use bread, the sacred ›staff of life,‹ as a carrier for ideological hypnotism. It has been suggested that rye bread caused the Salem Witch Trials. The symptoms of the ‘cursed’ girls were akin to ergotism, caused by mycotoxic parasitic fungus that thrives on rye. The same hallucinations, convulsions, and gangrene halted Peter the Great’s attack on the Ottoman Empire in 1722.
Inspired by ergot distribution and the symbiotic mycorrhizal networks of our tree kin, Baba Yaga Myco Glitch seeks to disrupt patriarchal structures from Salem to Shanghai to Siberia. We misbehave in the kitchen. We harvest mind-altering wild yeasts, knead incantations into the sourdough, use it as capacitive sensor to transmit kneading data to the network, bake Yagic sigils. Glitch yeasts ferment and metabolise energy anew. We distribute our starter, infecting its ingesters with powerful hallucinogenic visions of alternative futures.
© 2023 Akademie Schloss Solitude and the author