This month, Maggie Negrete is presenting The Apothecary of Esoteric Panacea (AEP). AEP is a community-based interactive installation where participants are able to, anonymously, crowdsource treatments for their intangible ailments using recycled food and prescription containers. Since 2013, the AEP has amassed over a hundred containers representing several hundred interactions at host sites, Handmade Arcade and Constellation Coffee. The October residency at Assemble will be the final physical iteration of the AEP and in celebration, will include guided activities and special events for all ages.
The Apothecary of Esoteric Panacea (AEP) is a reoccurring interactive installation that prompts attendees to crowdsource healing by engaging with recycled food, hygiene and pharmaceutical containers. Reclaiming these containers is an act of reclaiming the role which fad diets, prescription drugs or beauty products have taken from our self esteem and the process of healing.
During their visit, participants can select a container and use custom labels to record their social, emotional, psychological, personal or global “ailment”. This label is placed onto the container and then the container on a shelf. Later, new participants are asked to contemplate the ailments on the shelves and find possible “treatments” which are recorded on a separate custom label and placed on the reverse of the container. Returning participants can leave notes regarding the effectiveness of their treatment or changes in their life since.
An “esoteric panacea” is an oxymoron of sorts; the ailments & treatments of the participants are specific & subjective. However, by sharing, openly, our difficulties and by responding with respect & best intentions, participants discover the panacea- collaboration. The AEP breeds a visceral response by participants who often find themselves responding to ailments that they, themselves, have experienced. In this way, the AEP supports practicing empathy and provides an anonymous space for participants to ask for help about things they may feel too self conscious discussing with family, doctors or in the workplace.