FAIR SHARE FARE presents APITHERAPY QUARANTINE
Photo: Sara Walker
ABOUT REFUGE: PANDEMIC
Extreme heat, rising sea levels, forced migration, increased spread of diseases, social unrest, extinctions – climate catastrophe is here. Refuge is now in year three of a five-year project that examines potential climate-related disasters and traces how we might collectively respond.
Refuge 2018: Pandemic explores the health impacts of climate change: epidemics, grief, stigma, and anxieties invoked by the language of disease. In nightmares, and in histories past and present – including those of colonisation and genocide – pandemics have brought unspeakable disaster on communities. Our bodies, and those of our loved ones, are our most valued possessions. Pandemics and epidemics challenge us to understand our corporeality, fears and taboos; and teach us the necessity of ritual.
Refuge’s offering is radical and full of compassion. How can we write ourselves into some of the scariest scenarios imaginable? We owe this thinking to our communities, and we need to find as many ways as possible to prepare. Over four busy days that include public forums, games, conversations and artistic works, join us at Refuge 2018: Pandemic at the North Melbourne Town Hall for real information and real science, as we get real creative in our readiness for what the future may hold. - ARTS HOUSE
ABOUT APITHERAPY QUARANTINE
You are separated from the group or you are the group. What treatment is in store?
The Apitherapy Quarantine (AQ) was created for REFUGE: Pandemic in response to what seemingly is an increase in ‘quarantine’ or ‘isolationist’ thinking in today’s socio-political climate. By focusing on the big, sometimes ‘imagined’ or ‘fake’ threats, we limit our ability to see what may be greater dangers on our doorstep. The AQ looks at our relationship to bees, a less visible threat to human survival. Viruses don’t just target humans. They can infect all forms of life from bacteria to bananas, soil to chickens, and also honeybees. A human-caused pandemic is killing billions of insects and bees worldwide. A lethal combination of neonicotinoid pesticide use, the varroa mite, deformed wing virus, trade and habitat loss are all contributing to a fast and alarming decline in bee populations.
Bees and other pollinators are responsible for pollinating over 80% of all flowering plants, including up to 70% of our top human food crops. A mass die-off of bees could trigger a chain reaction resulting in devastating impacts to global food production. We lose bees, we starve.
The Apitherapy Quarantine explores our symbiotic relationship to bees, via an immersive spa-meets-science-lab-meets-urban-agriculture environment in an ongoing Fair Share Fare collaboration with Arts House’s resident colony of bees.
Apitherapy is a branch of alternative medicine that uses bees and bee products to treat specific ailments. The AQ therapists offer isolated treatments for what may ail you in mind, body, spirit and/or community.
You may want to rush out. You may be put to work. You may never want to leave.
The Apitherapy Quarantine consisted of four main areas: the waiting area, the three zones of the AQ and the bee colony located outside of the AQ (on the façade of Arts House).
The AQ asked people to leave leave their possessions, make their confessions (fears, sins, secrets and/or desires)and wait for instructions before entering. This gesture of making a confession is based on a reinterpretation of a medieval tradition called ‘telling the bees’ – an observance where a bee speaker would share important community news with the bee colony. Lorna Hannan is the resident bee speaker at Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall. A ‘WORKER’ assisted the public to remove shoes, issued them a confession card and directed them to two facing pews. While they were waiting in groups of 8, the ‘GUIDES’ were assessing them (e.g. looking a body posture, hand size, tensions between people, eye contact, accents, etc.). This assessment informed a selection process for treatments in the AQ. The GUIDES would assign colour coded wrist bands to the group of 8. The GUARD would then enter and provide instructions for entering the AQ (e.g. non-verbal space, use of gestures, safety, etc.).
The three GUARDS would then call out their selected individuals by their wrist bands. GUARD ONE would take one person down a dark corridor in the AQ into ZONE 1; GUARD TWO would take six people into the central ZONE 2; and, GUARD 3 would take one person down another dark corridor in the AQ into ZONE 3.
ZONE 1 - AQ Body Therapy: The GUARD would signal to the THERAPIST in ZONE 1 what type of treatment was required. This could include a shoulder, hand, face or back massage lying on a massage chair or table. The masseur through gesture, guide the person through a therapeutic massage using oils and lotions made by Fair Share Fare using honey harvested from the bee hive. After a 12 minute massage, the person was gifted a ‘balm for one’, honey lip balm made by FSF and led out of the AQ by the GUIDE.
ZONE 2 - AQ Mind Therapy: Six people were guided into a central containment chamber in ZONE 2 by the BEE KEEPER. Three people sat on each side facing each other. The Bee Keeper instructed through gesture for them to put on the headphones before sealing them in the chamber. A lung tent over the outside beehive sucked piped bee pheromone-filled air into the containment chamber providing an olfactory therapy. Over the course of the 12 minutes, the tent would pressurise and start to swell, almost holding the six. On the headphones were two audio works (see above). The one group of three were listening to a binaural soundscape of bees intended to be a meditational experience. The other three were listening to Lorna Hannan, the BEE SPEAKER reading out public confessions. Neither group knew that they were listening to different audio. A security camera in the containment chamber showed the different body language between the two groups. At the end of the therapy, the BEE KEEPER gifted each person with a vial of honey from the bee hive.
ZONE 3 - AQ Community Therapy: One person was guided down a dark corridor to the third zone, where they were greeted by another THERAPIST, a horticulturalist who put them to work, propagating bee-friendly plants, planting seedlings, etc. This was an intimate, hand-holding, guiding therapy that explored the aesthetics and performative elements of something as simple as working with plants. The THERAPIST gifted them with a bee-friendly seedling after their session.
DEBRIEF: It was timed that all 8 people came out as 8 more went in. The GUIDES collected them from the ZONES and led them back to the HOLDING AREA. On the facing pews, they would debrief their experiences. Some chose to go back in. Others didn't. Our resident BEE KEEPER would answer questions and recite bee poetry.
Photography: Emma Byrnes and Bryony Jackson
Sound engineering: Marco Cher-Gibard
Performers/Therapists: Ilian Hellander, Fiona Hillary, Linda Tegg, Kelly Gillespie, Aviva Reed, Clare Callow and Dave Butt
Bee Speaker: Lorna Hannan
Bee Keepers and Seeds: Vanessa and Mat from Rooftop Honey
Engineering: A Grade Hydroponics
Indigenous plants: Westgate Biodiversity
Thank you to everyone at Arts House.