Home / future / Enclave 1: Res. | Alembic l: Mystic Body, Elizabeth Mputu & Faith Wilding

Enclave 1: Res. | Alembic l: Mystic Body, Elizabeth Mputu & Faith Wilding

Jan 19, 2018

Alembic l: Mystic Body
Elizabeth Mputu & Faith Wilding

27 January – 10 March 2018 (preview Fri 26 January)

Wednesday 7 March 5.30-7pm: Faith Wilding lecture at Goldsmiths University of London
Saturday 10 March 2.30- 5pm: Faith Wilding reads from her upcoming publication of memoirs at Res.

Mystic Body, the first exhibition in the Alembic programme at Res., includes historical artist books, scrolls, drawings and textile work by Faith Wilding from 1969 to 1992 alongside a new commission by Orlando based artist and herbalist Elizabeth Mputu. The artists share an engagement with the potency of holistic healing, drawn from ancient texts and cultures.

Wilding’s ‘Body and Soul’ (1992), a sculptural time-based work with coloured pigment bleeding between two alchemical vessels, provided a guiding emblematic system of transference and transmutation during the development of the Alembic programme. A selection of book and scroll works on show in Alembic includes dense allegorical imagery of hybrid organic matter alongside diaristic passages inspired by theological lineages as well as more recent feminist literature. The tousled woven tentacles of ‘Sea Womb’(1969) evokes Haraways recent writing concerning ‘making kin’ with the planet’s non-human inhabitants.

Mputu’s practice articulates a mutual dependence between holistic epistemologies, POC communities and online social networks. For Alembic, Mputu takes the healing Congolese dance ritual of Zebola alongside traditional herbal remedies to develop a holistic gameplay environment accessed online and via a sculptural living ‘hotspot’ herbal planter in the gallery.

Res. are pleased to announce Alembic, a programme of three intergenerational duo exhibitions, a publication, events and online commission. It brings together new commissions by Annabelle Craven-Jones, Elizabeth Mputu, Ayesha Tan Jones and Maggie Roberts, developed in connection to cyberfeminist materials from the media art library of curator Kathy Rae Huffman. These new commissions are exhibited alongside significant historical works by artists Faith Wilding and Shu Lea Cheang brought to the UK for the first time, forming a scope of works spanning from 1969 to the contemporary. Alembic celebrates the shared affinity across these generations, where the continual critique and transformation of the political biases of networked communication is practiced through multiple feminisms and strategies of queering technology.

Unfolding how the materiality of the body (recognising agency and affect beyond the human) becomes a site for digital and alchemical transmutation, Alembic takes its name from a form of alchemical beaker(1). The process of distilling chemicals between two beakers connected by a tube, mirrors the pipelines of digital communication technology, where transmission of data constitutes an abstraction. Considering the body as alchemical vessel, it contains the processes of mutation: virus, hacking, healing and encoding. Mythologies emerge through these processes of alterity, as part of a greater cosmological and ecological network of co-dependencies.


Further activities in the series include:
24 March – 28 April 2018 (preview Fri 23 March) Maggie Roberts & Ayesha Tan Jones
11 May – 16 June 2018 (preview Thurs 10 May) Shu Lea Cheang & Annabelle Craven-Jones
A resulting publication will be launched later in 2018


Elizabeth Mputu (b.1993, Orlando, USA) is a digital/performance artist and holistic practitioner of Congolese descent. Their work focuses on the artist’s ability to grapple with sexuality, gender, taboo, health, healing and African spirituality filtered through the performative and digital medium. Mputu draws on their experience as an established and active presence within online QTIPOC communities. Their project Cyber Serenity provides services in the area of art therapy, holistic healing, internet related self-care and spiritual consultation.

Faith Wilding (b.1943, Paraguay, based in Rhode Island, USA) is an artist, writer and educator, widely known for her contribution to the progressive development of feminist art movement in 1970’s California, and 1980-90s cyberfeminist networks, as part of the collective subRosa. Her multidisciplinary work as an artist addresses aspects of the somatic, psychic, and sociopolitical history of the body.  Currently, Wilding is a faculty member at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the MFA in Visual Art Program at Vermont College of the Union Institute and University. Her solo exhibition ‘un-Natural Parabals’ is currently touring in the USA


Contact Res. co-directors and curators Helen, Lucy and Sarah:

Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England



[1] Alembics first appeared in the drawings of Cleopatra the Alchemist, who reportedly lived between the 2nd and 5th Century CE. (The Alchemy Reader: From Hermes Trismegistus to Isaac Newton, ed Stanton J. Linden, Cambridge University Press, p. 44)
[2] Haraway, Donna J., Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (Durham: Duke University Press Books, 2016)
Image credit: Faith Wilding, Book of Hildegarde, 1983
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