Still from “Icaros: a Vision,” Filippo Timi as Leonardo (Image courtesy of Matteo Norzi/ “Icaros”)
If you really, really wanted to, you could probably find ayahuasca right here in Brooklyn. We know you’d be “asking for a friend” and everything, but just keep in mind that artist Melanie Bonajo didn’t seem to have any trouble for her film on urban shamanism, Night Soil, andthere’s at least one ayahuasquero – a spirit guide responsible for serving the hallucinogenic brew – based in Bushwick, a neighborhood where a certain “mixed-use community space” (that may or may not still exist) hosted ayahuasca ceremonies recently. Still, it’s not like you can approach your neighborhood drug dealer to hook you up with some of that especially potent jungle juice (one part Banisteriopsiscaapi vine, one part Psychotria viridis leaves).
Thankfully, with the recent premiere of Icaros: a Visionat Tribeca Film Festival, we can satisfy our ayahuas-curiosity from a safe distance while getting a good look at both the indigenous tradition of ayahuasca tripping and what happens when Western ninnies leave behind their workout routines and compulsive internet consumption and start getting real.
Melanie Bonajo’s solo exhibition “Nocturnal Gardening” on view at Company Gallery (Photo: Nicole Disser)
Walking into the Company Gallery on the Lower East Side feels like stepping inside a Tumblr. Photographs of painted people, tinted by sunlight flooding in through colorful tissue paper, are interspersed with delicate ferns and towering bamboo sticks. A lithium drone within the gallery’s white walls is broken up by Night Soil – Fake Paradise, an experimental documentary film by Melanie Bonajo in which women from Brooklyn candidly discussion their deeply personal experiences with ayahuasca. Some of the revelations are blissful and mystic while others turn completely horrifying, melting the psyche down into utterly submissive goo — Bonajo’s way of reminding us of the immeasurable power of psychedelic substances.
Despite bold innovations in drinking like the cold-activated beer can, we still long to be besotted in the manner of our forefathers — hence switchel toddies that take four months to produce. But now that everyone knows how to make a shrub, how can a time-traveling tippler take it to the next level? Well, take your pick: today DNAinfo turns us on to the “Elixir of Long Life,” while Roads & Kingdoms introduces us to an ayahuasca shaman who practices right here in Bushwick. More →