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The Illicit Gin Institute program by Zina Saro-Wiwa

Aug 3, 2021
4:00 PM
Invite Only

Location to be shared upon registration

We welcome British-Nigerian artist Zina Saro-Wiwa to Aspen to unveil some of her rare and delicious botanical gins from her Illicit Gin Institute distillery. The Illicit Gin Institute is a thinktank and distillery, created by the artist, that explores the poetics and possibilities of palm wine gin - also known as ‘kaikai’ or ‘ogogoro’ or ‘illicit gin’. A spirit that, like tequila or clairin rum, was at first created by necessity by the local poor, but unlike tequila or rum has not yet been understood or appreciated globally.

In this smoky yet smooth palm wine spirit, Saro-Wiwa sees a potent vehicle for storytelling, regeneration and environmental repair. A voice for the maligned but historically Edenic Niger Delta region from which she hails. She has woven the gin into her art practice since 2013 and it has now culminated in the building of her own distillery and a research drive into Niger Delta botanicals and foodways. The tasting will consist of an introductory lecture and tastings of some of the botanical gins produced by her experimental distillery in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Her delicious botanical gin chocolates will also be on offer.

Zina Saro-Wiwa is an artist working in video, photography, sculpture, sound, and food. She lives and works in Los Angeles, and runs a practice in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, where her experimental distillery is based and where she founded the contemporary art gallery, Boys’ Quarters Project Space.

The Illicit Gin Institute is a radical creative think tank dedicated to exploring African moonshine, particularly a Nigerian palm wine spirit historically known as “Illicit Gin” that is made by distilling the fermented palm “wine” tapped from the raffia palm tree. Created by Saro-Wiwa, the Illicit Gin Institute develops projects that explore the storytelling and regenerative potential of this palm wine spirit through artist-driven events, foods featuring the gin and botanicals, and a podcast.