This October 26th, at dusk a study group composite by female plastic artists from Santiago de Cali, Colombia, will partake in a European love spell as a by-product of their dark arts investigation.
This activity is the prologue to a talk where the main subject is wise women and the sense of sorority in the hard times. Those women have been stolen protagonism, their real labour misrepresented, and they have been burnt vehemently both physically and metaphorically.
At the Muros de Gilbert, located at Calle 4 Norte # 1-29 in Cali, there will be coven compose by wise women, female shamans and witches to talk about sensitive subjects to the contemporary mystical women. These women who resist, in an artistic way, every single suppression method that modern societies keep on using to prosecute or to ridicule their way of living.
At the beginning of this year, the artist Andrea Valencia returned to Colombia after completing her master’s degree in Women Studies at the University Nova de Lisboa in Portugal. She presented her thesis ‘Witches, a guide for the deconstruction of a political entity’ to the Genre Research Group at the Icesi University in Cali.
In this group, she used a performance/talk to explain an academic subject while the attendants can practice an ancient union ritual using herbs, essences and ancient books to harmonize both the space and the souls of the people attending.
This performance was replicated at Bellas Artes in the same city, without paying to for entry aimed to anyone interested. The organizers of this event realized there are plenty of women interested in knowing their ancestral legacy, because “we are all witches’ daughter that [they] could not be burnt.”
These performances were the beginning of a series of meetings, by an initiative of Andrea and the plastic artist Lina Hincapié, who in turn created the study group call The Witches (Las Brujas in their native Spanish.)
Slowly, other artists joined in to practice certain magic and witchcraft rituals. Per example, Andrea, who was born in a matriarchal family received from both her mother and grandmother the ancient knowledge of herbology; had the nickname little witch (Chiquita Bruja) as a mockery by her peers, according to Lina.
Also, other women joined in whose artistic works symbolized the revindication of all the powerful women with esoteric knowledge. Another example is Agni Gómez, a woman who studied local shamanism, spells and conjuring, carefully incorporated into her works of art; this new member ended up becoming the teacher in the group.
She teaches the rest of the members how to make the spell, cleanings, esoteric practices, divinations, scientific innovations and academic formation regarding all the kinds of witchcraft that exist.
The members of this group never dare to think of themselves as a feminist art group. However, the coven of this October 26th is open to all types of women with different social, religious and political backgrounds. The only thing expected from upcoming participants is to be open-minded.
Also, the group is not an artistic collective, because anyone is free to enter o leave it, the group will not get dissolved. The objective of the group is to share the ancestral knowledge generated by wise women around the world.
The concept of witches is a pejorative term used to belittle European wise women, and today these female artists used it with pride; as well as the female Shaman knowledge who were the herbalists of the new world.
The next members to join the group were Marla Caicedo and Natalia Giraldo “Herbalist” and medicine woman. These women join in with the aim of practice both magic and witchcraft under the premise of generating a combination of Space-time, academic and ritual elements within academic, artistic, community spaces or wherever other people open their doors to this Witches.
By doing this, they hope to defy the wrong concept about the power of medicine and conjuring, patriarchal ideology and Eurocentric vision admitted by the Catholic-positivist thought that is still sold as the only truth about the world.
In this meeting, the group aims to pursue a solemn academic act, to showcase scientific research about Witches. Slightly out of the box concept, but for art language, the symbiosis between symptoms produced by the conjuring and the element composing it, depends solely on the aesthetic experience of the person performing it.
Lina Hincapíe tells us that her motivation is to detract from the “the wrong aesthetic of the European white witch or its default, the Disney’s wicked witch” wicked, horrific, and a bit clumsy that always lose. That is the prototype to defeat.
The female artists aim to make everyday people recognize their symbolic ancestral linage, the cumulative of female resistance experiences. “It is our major interest for people first to recognize the dark past that the original and stereotyped wise women had to endure as witches, insane and violent. By using plastic arts to respond to the challenges that the contemporary women must face out of fear of those who subjugate society with significative practices that revendicate occult ancestral knowledge. Like the women at Instituto Popular de Cultura, a group of muralist that are constructing the city with an alternative urban aesthetic to know their territory. Those practices survive beyond the contemporary world, those made by women, and above all to articulate arts with supernatural aesthetic experiences.”
From this coven, one can expect the revendication of female knowledge aesthetic that comes from power, medicine or herbology, as an archetype to follow. Also, to initiate the interaction with ancient elements with power spaces and through performative experiences, in this case with a cocoa-based potion “Chocolatada”.
In Colombia, the “Chocolatada” is a cocoa-based beverage cooked on firewood. Syncretistically an experience to the observer, arts, spells, rituals and witches, this coven is a call to all witches from Cali and to those women that want to learn, share experiences, to know themselves, to artists to create a network for upcoming covens.