This augmented-reality pop-up print remediates The Witch of Malleghem, a 1559 image by Pieter Brueghel the Elder depicting a witch and her assistants removing “stones of madness” from villagers’ heads. Through dramatic re-enactments and re-animations of the figures in this work, we reflect on the visual rhetoric used to de-legitimize healing practices outside of the dominant patriarchal religious/medical establishment in Europe during the period.
The original image reflects a perception of witchcraft at a time when the Christian medical establishment's healing methods were absurd, untested and dangerous, and ascribed all healing powers to God. Lay healers (often women, persecuted as witches) were herbalists, whose methods were based on experimentation and observation of results and patterns over time--they were far more more scientific, pragmatic, safe, and effective. We take inspiration from Barbara Ehrenreich and Dierdre English’s 1975 pamphlet, “Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers”, which describes a history in which lay healers in Europe were barred from their practice, as official medical practice was sanctioned by the church and open only to men. The image of the witch as a fraud leads us to the situation in which we find ourselves: those marginalized by the white-supremacist capitalist hetero-patriarchy continue to be excluded and doubted when it comes to specialized knowledge of healing. We insert our own camp humour into The Witch of Malleghem, leaning into the surrealism, grotesqueries, and absurdities of the original image and reclaim it with a sense of humour. Laughter, after all, is also a form of medicine.
To see this piece, download the “Malleghem” app from the App Store and obtain the 18"x24" printed poster at one of the pickup locations. Just go in and ask for one! The prints are free, but there are limited quantities. We'll update below when they run out.
New York: Hesse Flatow
Toronto: Mercer Union
Kingston, Ontario: Modern Fuel
Open the app on your mobile device and allow your camera to be used. When you aim your mobile device at the section of the print shown below, you will see animated content.
If you can’t get the print, you can download the image and aim your camera your screen, and see the content.
If you aren't located in one of the pickup locations listed above, contact us and we'll ship you a print. If your gallery/art space/venue would like to be a pickup location, get in touch with email@example.com
Jenn E Norton