Expedition to Kurzeme, Latvia

Following the first part in March earlier this year during Pixelache Festival, the second part of of the Herbologies/Foraging Networks programme takes place around midsummer in Aizpute and Alsunga, within the Kurzme region of Latvia, June 2010.

Interdisciplinary Art Group SERDE, based in Aizpute, coordinates, hosts and invites an international and interdisciplinary group of guests to build upon their experience of engaging cultural heritage subjects as an arts organisation. Signe Pucena, in collaboration with Andrew Gryf Paterson, has organised a series of fieldwork excursions to learn about the contemporary practices and cultural heritage related to the use of wild plants.

The main topics for herbologies expedition will be how to recognise, gather and use wild plants and flowers for: teas, infusions, tinctures, sauna besoms, herbs in home-made cosmetics, midsummer crowns from wild flowers, and as a ‘pharmacy’ of room plants on the window-sill.

Participants include guests from Latvia, Lithuania, various places in Finland, Southern Sweden, Warsaw, Barcelona, and Brussels.

Thirty-two adults in total variably over the 10 days, namely: Ance Ausmane, (LV), Tija Ausmane (LV), Bartaku (BE), Ieva Bernotaite (LT), Ieva Bertasiute (LT), Andrea Garcia/a mínima (ES), Daniel Garcia/a mínima (ES), Maaris Grosbahs/SERDE (LV), Ossi Kakko (FI), Sari Kippilä (FI), Martins Laizans (LV), Aigars Lielbardis (LV), Malin Vrijman Lindmark/Kultivator (SE), Olga Mashkina (RU/FI), Wojtek Mejor (PL), Cristobal Montesinos (ES), Erika Norberg/Svenska Radio (SE), Agrita Ozolina (LV), Andrew Gryf Paterson (SCO/FI), Signe Pucena/SERDE (LV), Ugis Pucens/SERDE (LV), Martins Ratniks/RIXC (LV), Inese Romanovska (LV/FI), Erik Sandelin(SE), Una Smilgaine (LV), Christina Stadlbauer (AT/BE), Åsa Ståhl (SE), Ulla Taipale/Capsula (FI/ES), Ronja Tammenpää (FI), Tuomo Tammenpää (FI), Aiste Virsulyte (LT), Ance Zemzane (LV), plus a few more younger family members.

In the pre-expedition research period, SERDE identified people who still gather herbs for themselves. The most active people are from historical Suitu region, who’s traditions have been recognised by UNESCO for their intangible cultural heritage value.

The outgoing wrap-up of the fieldwork will happen for five days after at the SERDE artist residency and workshop centre in Aizpute. Here we aim to preserve and document traditional cultural values related to herb-gathering in Latvia, using an iterative production method from agile software development called a ‘sprint’, exemplified in book form by FLOSS Manuals and the alpha Booki platform. An intensive work period will aim to produce a best-possible draft of text, images and video materials, in different languages used by the participants.

We hope these documents will be examples, manuals & illustrations between the local older and younger ‘digital native’ generations.

Welcome to follow our sharing on Pixelache pages and SERDE’s website in the future, and also in the process on Facebook.

The Herbologies/Foraging Networks programme of events, focused in Helsinki (Finland) and Kurzeme region of Latvia, explores the cultural traditions and knowledge of herbs, edible and medicinal plants, within the contemporary context of online networks, open information-sharing, biological and hydroponic technologies.

The production of this programme is supported by an Art and Culture Production grant from KulturKontakt Nord, and partial self-funded support by some of the participants, including organisations Kultivator (SE) and a mínima (ES).