Sugar for the Pill • Eline de Clercq

Eline de Clercq

We might think of gardening as a romantic past-time. Yet, gardening has been an important tool for colonialism and possession, but also emancipation. Eline de Clercq (°1979, BE) created a lesbian Gesamthof in the monastery garden of Kunsthal Extra City and Morpho. As plants are non-binary, the garden is a safe space for lesbians. She brings together a community of humans and non-humans to work together with care for their ecology. For this exhibition, Eline selected accessible medicinal plants from the garden to reveal class issues in an intersectional context. Medical care in most countries is still reserved for those who can afford it. This selection of plants thrive everywhere and are freely available in the wild, even in urban areas. Historically, they are used to heal female or othered bodies. Eline’s curation culminates in the presence of Artemisia, which grows all over the globe and is used against illnesses like malaria. In some cultures, it is known to cure hormonal imbalance and induce natural abortions, but when dosed incorrectly it is deadly poisonous. The plant is an illustration of the dangers female bodies go through as a result of inequality and sexism, but also becomes a symbol of freedom. With the growing world-wide criminalisation of abortion and the endangered Roe vs. Wade court rule in the US today, Artemisia might even be a symbol for the fight for self-determination and equal rights in the 21st century.

You are invited to visit the Gesamthof during Antwerp Art Weekend, or join us there for the closing party on Sunday at 5 PM.

Work in Sugar for the Pill:
• Plants from the lesbian Gesamthof, 2022. Artemisia Vulgaris, Salvia Officinalis, Mentha Citrata.

Eline de Clercq's work is about diversity in the arts. She looks into intersectional themes in ecology and European art history. She combines fabrics, paintings, drawings and critical text with atemporal subjects from the European art history and canon. Her paintings and drawings are about a 'lesbian gaze', about the representation of invisible identities. Her portraits give an image to lesbian identities to reflect the often unseen reality of every day life. She also creates an ongoing art project directly linked to ecology: the Gesamthof, a lesbian garden. This garden is about non-human-centred thinking and working together. On request Eline gives garden visits to highlight the intricate connections between botany, gender, identity, decolonisation, class and many other hidden aspects.