Folk Remedies


Was man’s life only about kings and military leaders, waging wars and negotiating peace, about laws and regulations? Isn’t it true that human destiny was determined by the surrounding flora and fauna, to the same extent as it was determined by kings and great heroes? (Mišo Kišpatić)

The exhibition Folk Remedies explores a herbal imaginarium presented in the works of folklore and art that do not reproduce the world of plants but create new visual or imaginative frameworks. We will come across mythical plants and a story of mandrake, floral wreaths made for protection against illness and evil, or floral artefacts that almost compete with natural creations, taking our imagination beyond the conventional frames.

Colorful and fragmentary, the exhibition combines works of art from home turf with ethnographic, cultural and historical material. It reflects on the world of plants in the context of customs and beliefs, but also as an aesthetic inspiration and means of cognition. The possibility of gaining insight into what lies at both ends of reason has always been an issue for humans, who have attempted in various ways to fathom the unreachable with, an aid of imagination, superstition, mirage… Scientific discoveries of modern times have, to a large extent, dispelled the inexplicable; with their rational precision and methods of testing, they have shed light on the mysteries of nature and organic world.

Yet, fragility and volatility of organic matter still challenge us with their mysterious elements. Folk Remedies exhibition investigates magic and folk medicine, alternative ways of plant usage and the way the contemporary art addresses them. At the same time, it does not attempt to evaluate the credibility of the gathered procedures, but focuses on the boundary between truth and fiction.


The theme of the exhibition is perceived as a universal category that, under a variety of cultural influences, attempts to transcend everything that is known, officially acknowledged or legalized. Consequently, the exhibits are arranged in a somewhat mystifying manner, thus prompting the visitors to search through the assembled material by themselves. With the aid of compartments, shelves or drawers suggestive of cabinets of curiosities, the arrangement brings to mind scattered beliefs and almost forgotten practices that used to be shaped for centuries in harmony with natural rhythms. The key features of Folk Remedies are the reminiscences of some of the guidelines of a ‘bygone way of life’ – patience and moderation, harmony with natural cycles and understanding that nature’s boons cannot be gained by charging wildly. Nature appears here as something both subtle and raw, but primarily as an area of ambivalence. The hints of danger, forces of evil but also of protection – medicinal and magical properties of flora – all of these represent inextricable elements of the folk imaginarium. When one is faced with collapse or disorder, nature can be discerned in beliefs in which human imagination tends to surpass nature, trying to detect a body in trouble and possibly provide a more beneficial treatment.  Judging from the ample presence of synthetic remedies and other pharmaceutical products, the mystical effect of plants is no longer in trend; yet, the power of human mystification has not completely gone. It seems it has just changed its skin.


Curator: Ksenija Orelj
Collaborators: Kora Girin, Marina Tkalčić (MMSU), Vana Gović (PPMHP)
Educational program: Milica Đilas, Kora Girin, Ivana Lučić (MMSU); Tanja Blašković, Daria Morosin
Graphic design and design of the set-up: Marin Nižić
Associate in the furnishing of works and technical display: Damjan Šporčić
Acknowledgements for the technical display: Milijana Babić, Nemanja Cvijanović, Darija Žmak Kunić; HNK Ivans pl. Zajca Rijeka; privatna zbirka Milan Novaković, Beograd