In Learning from Artemisia at La Loge, Orlow explores plant healing and global power relations through Artemisia afra, the African wormwood, an indigenous medicinal plant cultivated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, alongside other African countries, and used for the treatment of malaria. Despite its proven effectiveness and simplicity, the World Health Organization does not recommend the use of this plant material, in any form, including tea, for the treatment or the prevention of malaria. Meanwhile the pharmaceutical industry derives large revenues from using the active ingredient ‘artemisinin’ from the related annual wormwood plant to produce antimalarial medication. Combining films and documentation from his work with a women’s cooperative in Lumata (south of Lubumbashi) with archival materials from the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren and a selection of related recent work, the artist traces the history of malaria to extractive capitalism, while highlighting the benefits of a collaborative economy.
Curated by Laura Herman