Baba Yaga Myco Glitch
Essay commissioned by CUNTemporary / Arts Feminism Queer
and published in: Queer Feminist Decolonial Ecologies Dossier on the occasion of the festival EcoFutures: Queer Feminist and Decolonial Responses to Ecological
& Environmental Changes, March–April 2019. Published in 2020.
Unlike other dutiful female characters of Russian folklore, Baba Yaga is a powerful, anarchic witch. She lives alone in the woods; rejects household labour, repurposing the mortar and pestle for high-speed transportation, with broom as anti-tracking device; commands the undead; cannibalises. Baba Yaga is shape-shifting and gender-ambiguous, by turn gatekeeper, helper, or child eater. In her spirit, I propose Baba Yaga Myco Glitch, acts of refusal that use bread, the sacred ‘staff of life,’ as a carrier for ideological hypnotism. There is a conspiracy theory in Russia that industrially produced yeast bread is infected with a ‘killer yeast’ designed to destroy the human organism from the inside out. It has also been suggested that rye bread caused the Salem Witch Trials. The symptoms of the ‘cursed’ girls were akin to ergotism, caused by mycotoxic parasitic fungus that thrives on rye. The same hallucinations, convulsions, and gangrene halted Peter the Great’s attack on the Ottoman Empire in 1722.
Inspired by ergot distribution and the symbiotic mycorrhizal networks of our tree kin, Baba Yaga Myco Glitch seeks to disrupt patriarchal structures from Salem to Shanghai to Siberia. We hijack yeasty-conspiracies and use them only for good. We misbehave in the kitchen. We distribute our starter, infecting its ingesters with powerful hallucinogenic visions of alternative futures.