Emergent Naturecultures Roundtable: To Thin the Veil: Plant Resins

What can we glean about our city from its messy edges where buildings crumble while rats, weeds, and microbes thrive? In this three-part roundtable, titled “Emergent Naturecultures,” we will work towards disrupting the binaries of nature and culture using Donna Haraway’s term “natureculture,” which insists that the two concepts cannot be separated. To honor the past and present, we will explore radical place-based actions that build solidarity between our bodies and the land. Each week, we will meet at the Pioneer Works garden gate on the corner of Pioneer and Conover Streets before we spend time with guest artists in the streets and vacant lots of Red Hook touching plants and reading suggested texts.

In our second session, we will explore the uses of aromatic resins like frankincense, myrrh, dragon’s blood, copal, and benzoin in purification, mood-setting, self-care, and wilderness education. How do we reconnect with the power held within plants? Resins are a means of reestablishing the sacred bond between person and wild–to thin the veil that divides us and discover wildness within. Resins allow us to go beyond ourselves in wisps of fragrant smoke.

Marisa Prefer is an educator, urban ecologist, and amateur herbalist who works across disciplines to translate knowledge between plant and human communities. Prefer has previously helped to run the Children’s Garden at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, is a current collaborator on “Carbon Sponge” at the New York Hall of Science, is the Programs & Permaculture Manager for floating food forest Swale, and is the Landscape Steward at Pioneer Works.

Zeelie Brown transforms art spaces into utopic, black, transfeminine, post-internet refuges called “soulscapes,” merging cello performance, electronic music, and installation art to overturn landscapes of capital intent on the economic genocide of queer black people. She depth charges Yoruba and Kikongo embodied philosophies, met with the folk theory of her family’s maroon Alabama homestead, in order that those who experience her soulscapes leave freed. She was a 2017 Southern Constellations Fellow, a Fellow at Harlem’s Caribbean Cultural Center, and a Column Shifting Fellow at the Flux Factory. She has performed at RISD, Flux Factory, Elsewhere, Recess Gallery, Project Row Houses, and Harvard University. She has been featured in Art in America and the Village Voice.