Drawing from the psychotropic properties of these plants*, the Kaffeeklatsch Scheinpräparat (30 mL) can be used like a portable, imaginary mind garden where one can nourish ongoing fictions and their potential to re-articulate spaces and situations from everyday life. In German, Scheinpräparat means = placebo, a term that is associated with an alternative form of medicine that relies on the affective properties of mental visualizations. Kaffeeklatsch, on the other hand, when translated from German, means = social space / an informal space for discussion and contemplation that is activated through the consumption of coffee, where coffee is used as a sensorial stimulant for conversation. Drifting in-between the significance of these two terms, Kaffeeklatsch Scheinpräparat - is a drink that takes form both as a mental sculpture and as a herbal healing tonic. To administer, please stir one (1) drop of the Kaffeeklatsch Scheinpräparat tonic with a full glass of your choice of beverage.
Crafted by Latifa Pelletier-Ahmed, a local plant healer + researcher, this infusion is prepared from a selection of local invasive plant species which have infiltrated and in the process altered the ecological materialities of outdoor gay cruising spaces in Calgary. Invasive plant species are a type of plant that emerges on the landscape through interrelated processes of multi-species disturbance and entanglement. Often these plants are seen as an economic threat to the sustainability of local crop-production, and similar to the gay men who cruise for anonymous pleasure in spaces where their presence has to remain clandestine and un-perceptible - these plants also find room to grow, and infiltrate through the ruins of everyday urban interactions.**
* Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) tincture, Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) syrup, Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea) apple cider vinegar, and blue spirulina powder
** For a free tasting, please drop by the new Kaffeeklatsch downtown location, opening this August @ 1205 1 ST SW. Ask the friendly barista from behind the counter, for a Scheinpräparat drink sample.
*** the price for the Kaffeeklatsch Scheinpräparat is the same as the price of entry to the local gay bathhouse. All proceeds from the sales of this artwork will be donated to CommunityWise who has generously made space for The Blue Light installation, currently residing in the same closet space where the original Kaffeeklatsch-cafe first started.
The research for this project was generously made possible with funding from Canada Council for the Arts.
Kaffeeklatsch Scheinpräparat is an outcome from a larger, and ongoing research initiative which has been organized locally by artist Bogdan Cheta in partnership with Mountain Standard Time Performative Art and the Calgary Queer Arts Society.
Latifa Pelletier-Ahmed is a botanist, herbalist, educator, researcher, and artist. Latifa’s work centres around building connections between plants and people, with the goal of establishing relationships that challenge processes of exploitive extraction and seek a more sustainable and just future. Latifa’s most recent art practice includes a collaboration with Alana Bartol for the piece Seeds for Grassy Mountain and “…if we ignore them they will disappear…” excerpt from Robin Wall Kimmerer curated as part of a group exhibition with u’s gallery.
Latifa lives and works in Calgary, Alberta, Treaty 7 Territory where her efforts centre on recognizing the ongoing destruction of at-risk habitats including native prairie and grassland. Latifa operates a consulting service, Latifa’s Herbs, which offers health consultations as well as educational services related to plants including identification, processing, harvesting, edible and medicinal usage, and cultivating. She is also the co-owner of ALCLA Native Plants, a native plant nursery that was founded in 1992. Latifa is formally qualified with a MSc in Herbal Medicine from Middlesex University, London, UK and BSc in Botany from the University of Calgary.