Witchcraft was never about fighting evil or resisting the devil. It was and still is a patriarchal tool for oppressing vulnerable communities, especially women. This design project manifests a reclamation of witchcraft for female empowerment. It explores the complexity of witchcraft, focusing on the socio-cultural and ecological levels. My purpose with this design project is to empower women to reclaim witchcraft in their own way and manifest their multifaceted independence through curiosity, experimentation, and speculation, especially within environmental science and ecological curiosity. The project consists of three main parts; the first two are included in my full thesis on DiVA and you can see parts of the third one within this online exhibition.
- Research about the past, historical facts of witchcraft, folktales, culture, and politics. I learned how, in the past, witchcraft was used against women as a patriarchal system of oppression and the ways in which it has been reclaimed through feminism in the present. I also looked closer into how women’s scientific participation and contributions have been partly and entirely erased or wrongly credited to men.
- The Wetlab Witches. Together with Miranda Moss, Mathilde Lasnier, Betyul Hafazoglu, and Daniel Gustafsson we have opened a mushroom lab within the OpenLab community in which we grew, experimented, and speculated with fungi. We used slow design as an anticapitalistic practice with a transdisciplinary lens, through interspecies collaboration and practice-based research, which created social value within our community and the participants we invited to join us.
- Speculative Design: Witchcraft Futurism. This third part is my design proposal for the future. The research question I asked to guide me through the process was:
How can speculative design be used to envision a scenario of witchcraft futurism from an ecofeminist point of view?
Through speculative design, “Witchcraft Futuring” envisions a dystopian future in which, due to the current systems in place, resources on Earth have been nearly depleted and environmental collapse is an established reality. There is only one place where humans can still find nutrients, forgotten knowledge and technology, and solutions for a better future; that place is the underground world of the root systems connected through mycelium. Witches are the only creatures on Earth who can communicate with the underground world. They can do that by using a communication speculative design tool you can see within this online exhibition.
Speculative Tools & World Building
The transmitter (left) is a cluster of mycelium which rises on the surface of the soil, indicating that there is plenty of mycelium and cellular activity underground in a certain location. For this, I simplified the look of the mycelium and root network and created an organic, egglike shape, because it indicates abundance, fertility, and that the mycelium is “ready” and waiting to be collected. Egg symbolism is present in witchcraft and other spiritual and magic systems, as it is seen as a symbol of life. “In some Native American creation tales, the egg features prominently. Typically, this involves the cracking of a giant egg to form the universe, the earth, or even gods” (Wigington 2019, pp 5).
The receiver (right) is a device that connects to the transmitter and accesses witches’ consciousness and power through their own bodies. Placed on the nose, it is a mask device that translates the information from the underground world into information and materials for witches to use to mitigate the grim situation of the world: solutions for the future, old knowledge, technology, lost languages, and cultural practices, as well as nutrition for the planet and humanity. It is all stored and processed in the underground world of fungi and root systems.
To showcase the concept to a larger audience, I decided to exhibit at Virserum Konsthall, together with Katarina Bonnevier, Thérèse Kristiansson, and Mariana Alves Silva (MYCKET), as part of their project, Troll Perceptions in the Heartlands. The project is about forests’ significance for the present and the future. Their role in mitigating climate change, preserving and enriching biodiversity, and for providing sustainable raw materials. But not one forest is the same, that is why we say forests. The exhibition at Virserums Konsthall aims to listen to the discussion and it seeks to hear the voices that get lost in the conversation. Katarina Bonnevier, Thérèse Kristiansson, and Mariana Alves Silva have gathered many things they could find in forests over time, some of which would have stayed there for hundreds of years otherwise, and they created various beings which stand on their own feet and speak in their own way. It was the perfect place to exhibit my communication tool with the underground world. You can visit the exhibition until December 22.
The second exhibition I was part of took place in Malmö at the Southern Sweden Design Days festival, between the 19th and 22nd of May 2022. I exhibited together with my classmates, as a graduation celebration. The title was Design Futures and everybody showcased a preview of their final thesis projects. The space, time, and budget were limited, so we did the best we could in the given circumstances. I presented five pictures and the communication tool, alongside a brief description of the project.
I invite you to read my full thesis which you can find on DiVA or contact me if you have any questions or are curious about my project.