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Various locations in Sweden, USA, and South Africa (2021-ongoing)

Social Pharmacy (Folkets apotek) is a site-specific exchange of health remedies. The work presents individual health as a collaborative performance scripted and enacted by strangers living in proximity of one another, moving an individualistic behavior of self-care into a relational gesture of community care. Following someone else’s script for ingesting or enacting care through the body performatively mirrors another person’s everyday physical experience.

Participants are co-authors; they are invited to share their own recipe for a health regiment, and in exchange, take away a community member’s remedy for emotional, mental, or physical health. The project becomes a dynamic living library of people who comprise a specific locale, in the present and in generations past.


Social Pharmacy began as a collaboration with coLAB Arts and Elijah’s Promise, an agency working to alleviate food insecurity and homelessness in New Brunswick, NJ. New Brunswick is dubbed ‘Healthcare City’ because of its many nationally recognized hospitals, pharmaceutical corporations, and internationally recognized medical research facilities. It also had the lowest vaccination rate of any city in New Jersey during 2021 and a 35% poverty rate. Social Pharmacy: New Jersey establishes a mutual aid system of home remedy exchanges taking place at the food distribution center of Elijah’s Promise. Recipes collected from constituents were turned into consumable objects and returned to the community. As the artist activated the pharmacy, it also became a hub for community members to exchange knowledge and advice with one another. The project has since traveled throughout Sweden, Cape Town, South Africa, and Brooklyn, NY.

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Catalog Essays by Nicole J. Caruth and Martha A. Fineman


"The Social Pharmacy, moves beyond a focus on a marginalized segment of population to speak to the dependency and vulnerability that consistently marks every human life. Our vulnerability arises as a result of the fact that every individual body can and will become ill, be injured or find itself otherwise in need of healing. This reality necessitates that we will be dependent on social institutions and relationships throughout our lives. Such a universal perspective, which begins with recognizing the fragility of the body, seems particularly appropriate in this pandemic era. Covid-19 has had tremendous individual and societal consequences that seem to elude both medical and political resolution. The pandemic teaches us (once again) that many problems are beyond individual control and that expectations of self-sufficiency and autonomy are limited at best. The current situation also should make it clear that dependence on social institutions and relationships is inevitable, not exceptional, but normal and routine. A failure to recognize this reality and collectively and individually respond can have devastating destructive consequences for individuals and for societies. We must find and implement society-wide responses to this collective threat to our well-being."

- Martha Albertson Fineman

Social Pharmacy featured exhibits:

• Open Source Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (2024)
• Infecting the City Arts Festival, Institute for   

  Creative Arts, University of Cape Town, South

  Africa (2023)

• Skövde Art Museum, Skövde, Sweden (2022)

• Norrtälje Konsthall, Norrtälje, Sweden (2022)

• Whitebox Gallery, Front Window, NYC (2022)

• Also presented at IIPPE Conference, Madrid and

  Arts in Society Conference, Krakow

Installation View, Norrtälje Konsthall, Sweden

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24-hour Social Pharmacy, Installation View, Open Source Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (photo: Vic Walsh)


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Margaretha Levin Blekastad for Norrtelje Tidning paper.

Excerpt from article:

"An appetite stimulant from black currant and vodka. Dried leaves from blueberries and birch against diabetes. Renfana for troublesome insects. These are some of the home remedies in "Folkets apotek", a shimmering cure house placed a stone's throw from the water in Simpnäs. "I had not heard of any of them earlier," says the American artist Jody Wood who will share the tips and recipes she received during the work with the project. Jody Wood lives in Brooklyn, New York, and works extensively with themes around society and health. It's about exploring ways to get people to take care of each other and not fear each other. What is the goal of the project? Jody Wood describes it as putting something in motion and creating processes that continue on. The home remedies are part of a larger health issue. It's a way to share knowledge; it becomes an infrastructure that gets people to share care with each other. It takes a lot for us to take care for a stranger, but this can be a way to get people to participate as individuals and share with each other."


- Margaretha Levin Blekastad, 2021

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