Plants of the Tundra


Above: Moss-covered ice mound in the Alaskan tundra, formed by the ground’s constant vacillation between freezing and thawing.

The “tundra” (from the Finnish word tunturi, meaning “treeless heights”) is otherwise known as that ribbon of latitude on our planet where the landscape shifts from tall trees and flowering bushes to comparatively shrimpy shrubs and frost-covered blankets of moss, brightly colored lichens, and delicate tufts of sedge (or “Arctic grass.”) The top layer of vegetation only thaws and grows for a few months a year, revealing to us a mysterious web of plant life beneath the ice…


Above: Reindeer lichen, an extremely cold-hardy plant most commonly found in the Arctic tundra. The Dena’ina people (native to Alaska) are known to eat this plant (boiled until soft) in dishes with berries, fish, eggs, or lard, and drink its juices to treat a number of physical ailments.


Above: Yellow lichens on a frost-covered Arctic floor, otherwise known in Inuit culture as “Excrement of the Sun.” Scientists have recently discovered anti-tumor, anti-microbial and anti-viral properties in compounds made from lichens.


Above: An Arctic fox takes a nap within the willows. Young Arctic willow leaves contain up to 10 times more vitamin C than an orange, and the bark can be boiled to make a pain-relieving tea.


Above: Last but not least, the Fly-Agaric. This mushroom is found in many areas of the world including scattered about the Alaskan tundra and the Arctic region of Kamchatka (a peninsula in the Russian Far East).

The Koryak people of Kamchatka are known to gather Fly-Agaric mushrooms growing in the roots of sacred birch trees and eat them (either dried or soaked in blueberry juice) as a means of enhancing creative and physical energy (i.e. to “play music all night long,”) among other spiritual and ceremonial purposes. Reindeer also love to eat this mushroom, and are said to act “drunken” under its influence.

Read more about the Koryaks’ use of the Fly-Agaric in the essay “IS THE FLY-AGARIC (AMANITA MUSCARIA) AN EFFECTIVE MEDICINAL MUSHROOM?” by Gary Lincoff.

September 12th, 15th and 22nd – Light Industry presents…


Above: Stills from the documentary Taiga by Ulrike Ottinger


Above: Still from Apocalypto Now by Jonathan Horowitz

Light Industry presents a series of films and lectures ranging from an eight-hour documentary by Ulrike Ottinger which follows reindeer nomads as they migrate across Mongolia (Taiga), to a screening of a mock-50s disaster movie that artist Jonathan Horowitz made entirely from found documentary and TV footage (Apocalypto Now), to a lecture by film critic Ed Halter on a small film company whose inspiring low-budget documentaries explore “Sasquatch, the Loch Ness Monster, the Bermuda Triangle, life after death, UFOs” and the possibility that “extraterrestrial travelers came to earth in prehistoric times to teach technology to our ancestors and create civilization.”

220 36th Street, 5th Floor / Brooklyn, New York 11232
$7 at door

See below for show times:

Taiga
Ulrike Ottinger, 16mm, 1991/2, 501 mins
Presented by Ginger Brooks Takahashi
Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 1:00pm

“Taiga is Ulrike Ottinger’s eight-hour documentary film on life in Northern Mongolia, a journey to the yak and reindeer nomads. For this presentation at Light Industry, we will watch the film in its entirety. Food will be served, but please also bring things to share. Attempts and interpretations of the region’s cuisine are encouraged–yak butter and various ferments? English translations of the transcript will be provided to the audience to read along.

Next year, I will travel to the Mongolian wild steppe with an entourage of women tracing the tracks of Ottinger’s journey in Johanna D’Arc of Monglia. This screening will be an introduction to the trip.” – GBT
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