“But these moments, like the deeply rhythmic movements of poetry, of music, of love, of dance, have the power to capture and endlessly recapture the moment that counts, the moment of rupture, of fissure.” (Bataille, 1993, p. 203) “Laughter is a communion with the dead, since death is not the object of laughter: it is death itself that finds a voice when we laugh. Laughter is that which is lost to discourse, the haemorrhag- ing of pragmatics into excitation and filth.” (Land, 1992, p. xvi) “Traumatism as an opening to the future of the wound is the promise of a text.” (Cixous, 1998, p13) In medical terms, we speak of dehiscence when there is a partial or complete reopening of a wound’s edges due to improper healing. dehiscence can occur internally or externally and can be caused by multiple factors such as inadequate aseptic techniques, inadequate undermining of the wound, infection, smoking, a strain or heavy lifting. In botany, dehiscence describes the spontaneous opening at maturity of a plant’s anther to release its content. The shattering of pod shells frees pollen and seeds, assuring the reproduction of the plant. When the datura’s pod cracks open, it reveals dark bluish seeds around a central kernel. It opens in a way that would be impossible to suture back, agape so wide it would remind you of butterfly wings or a blooming onion. There are things one keeps returning back to, rewriting - unwillingly they resurface. There are wounds that do not heal, chronic wounds. They do not follow the habitual stages of healing, and either reopen or remain painfully swollen for months on end. If in a way they resist scaring, it is also that they resist time. I revisit a book I thought I was familiar with but instead, in it, find an entirely new beginning. One of us slices open his shin, close to the ankle, a wound too deep not to suture. In the book, Cixous writes of writing as conjuring - maintaining and reanimating traces. One of the central stories deconstructed in Stigmata, is a childhood memory of being bit by her dog. A bite that occurred shortly after the passing of her father and that left a unique scar on her foot. Her scar: an awful treasure, a proof, a testimony, a transfiguration. The shin-wound reopened, twice. As if attempting to halt time, but instead confirming the probability of a scar, the indelible confirmation of our time spent there. Stigma from stigmè: the point, the spike or the punctuality of the instant, an incessant sting. Again, in botany, stigma a part of the pistil, where the male pollen germinates. “In its cavity resurrection is hatched. What is dead and what will live share the same bed. Tomb-cradle: another definition of Stigma.” (Cixous, 13) The datura is both frightening and alluring. It has been used for its medicinal properties in the 17 and 1800s, for soothing pain topically, or as a sleeping aid. In the indigenous communities of Asia and South America, it has been used to heal anxieties, as well as in specific shamanistic rituals or rites of passage. The Datura is deadly. Accounts of hallucinations caused by the plant seem to have similar throughlines - black dogs, being one of them. Visions are said to linger way past the time of intoxication: apparitions of silhouettes or faces lurk in the back of one's eyes for months before permanently fading away. The flower’s parapsychological properties are believed to be occultist. The datura will command respect and make its power known. To assuage its fury one should either provide an act of service towards the plant or partake in an act of sacrifice. I do not know for certain what each of us traded for the plant, some heard her commanding voice, others didn’t mention as much. One thing is for sure many a drink was spilled over in her honor, libations poured back into the earth between emptied bullet shells, rocks, broken glass and wet paper. I have always been seduced by the idea that the dead receive the wine poured into the ground –that it somehow carries through. It occurs to me that I should look into the geology of the place: Youngstown. And the history of its name. A name which in itself implies some sort of time suspended. What if there was some sort of gravitational pull that could explain the coincidences, the openings, the revelations we all felt simultaneously during our time there. If you’d ask any one of us, why the flower - we’d tell you she seemed to have picked us first. Datura is a group exhibition presenting works by Justin Apperley, Julien Parant-Marquis, éli del, and Cléo Sjölander, Alex Patrick Dyck, Tom Roeshlein, Dylan Weaver, Paul Burgess and Jason Van Hoose at 100 N Prospect in Youngstown, Ohio. The exhibition, curated by Marie Ségolène is the culmination of a 10 day artist residency, coordinated with Rocco Sait, in which the artists worked individually and collaboratively on over 50 artworks. The final exhibition took place for one evening and will be traveling to Montreal in January.
Marie Ségolène C Brault