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Compulsory * Complaint 5

In her work, Kit reminds me of the form in the book. ‘Form’ is usually the first object that a complainer encounters. And sometimes it’s the last chance to explain what happened to the complainant. Eventually, at the end of this process, the paper will become a “separated body” and a separate voice, just like the kit in the work of Eliza Schvartz. How is this form being written, which has already been handed over to the institution and is part of an indelible complainer? Can this form properly capture me and my complaints?

Mainly in form, blank spaces had to be filled in an orderly way. which is compulsory. There is no space for ambiguity. After the form was filled out, every case looked flawless and clear. Becoming flawless and simple means that the case is separated from the complainer’s body and voice. Every word from the complaint is separated from the complaint itself.

Let’s go back to the cord, now the meaning of cord could be expanded to form. If you look at the whole process of complaining as a process of weaving a cord, the form should be an important document that distinguishes my cord from others. It should be the only piece of paper that describes my cord.

The ‘form’ could be the life-ring at the end of the cord. When we throw the life ring, it should be the one we can trust and grab. If we already know the end of the form could be the cabinet, then at least we need something more than a case number and boring documentation. At some point, I started to question why we cannot make a more relevant or striking form. The form should not be intended to define clear normative principles. Rather should have the intention of finding ambiguity and contradiction in each case.

So I want to build a form that would allow for ambiguity. For amplifying the complaint, I feel the necessity to re-design the form. Making a form for the complaint could be challenging since every case has different shapes and voices. Maybe the idea of “form” which already has a meaning of “uniform” would not be a perfect way of “hearing” the voice. However, if we agree with the necessity of compiling the complaint’s narrative as a testimony and being a catalyst from hereafter, and not only as a piece of evidence but also as a “discrete body”, I reckon we all agree to the making better form.

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Compulsory * Complaint 4

Aliza Shvarts’ recent work Anthem (2019-present) is about how the body can be a material/platform to speak and be heard. This work “is a comparison of the different sexual assault evidence collection kits or ‘rape kits’ used in each US state. […] the kits vary in language, content, and form. A kit might contain 7 or 21 steps; it might use legal or medical language (‘victim’ vs. ‘patient’) and gendered or gender-neutral terms (‘panties’ vs. ‘underwear’). As an object, a rape kit is a crucial site where physical experience is transformed into testimony—one that has the power to support or supersede the survivor’s own voice. Viewers are invited to pick up, handle, and compare the reproductions of the kits’ internal contents, which are on display on the shelves in the space.” (“Anthem (2019-present).” Aliza Shvarts, https://alizashvarts.com/2019_anthem.html. Accessed 17 January 2022.) Also In the interview, she mentioned, “[t]he kit, as a discrete body, solves the problem of relation, of the interdependency of the body on larger systems and practices of care.” (After Emily, editor. “A conversation with Aliza Shvartz.” OCTOBER, vol. 176, 2021, pp. 88-110.) So in her work, Kit is an indelible material because it’s a part of body but also a “discrete body”.

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Compulsory * Complaint 3

In order for us to make a code together, listeners also need to start complaining about the behaviour of the institutions vigorously. Because in this procedure, if the listeners don’t stand up, there is no place for a throwing cord. And Aliza Shvartz’s work came to mind while thinking of institutions claiming “principle” to the complainer about an obscure, unclear problem.

Her first work, Untitled [Senior Thesis] (2008), consisting of a yearlong performance of self-induced miscarriages, was declared a “fiction” by Yale University and censored from public exhibition. When an institution puts forward a ‘principle’ that has the power to enforce an individual, it should be aware that an individual’s complaint is no way to enforce the institution. After 10 years later, she exhibits this documentation in another space (player, 2018). Finally, the “Truth”/ “Story” came out from undersea. In her work, the form of art could be the cord. And this platform “Art” comes out in public with a different kind of power than the principles of the institution. Her work encourages me to contemplate what and how to bring the past to the surface. Especially about the way how it’s through the right form to reveal.

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Compulsory * Complaint 2

Lawrence Abu Hamdan, The witness-Machine Complex, 2021

Complain kit

While I research the example for the role of the listener, I found Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s artwork. It draws the role of interpretation and intervention during testimony. In his work, Abu Hamdan represents the historical scene in the Nuremberg trials in 1945–46. This trial was the first trial that uses a simultaneous translation system in the world. In this trial, simultaneous interpreters are nowhere to be seen. Yet their presence was captured by the flashing yellow and red lights built into the witness stand and the prosecutor’s podium, which were used to slow down or pause the speed of the sound flowing into their headphones. (“The witness-machine complex(2021)”, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, http://lawrenceabuhamdan.com/witness-machine-complex) These lights interfere with and control witness statements in many ways.

Lawrence Abu Hamdan mentions “[t]here’s an exchange that begins with a Russian witness named Jakov Gregorvion, […] He’s asked where he comes from, and the follow-up question is “Does that village still exist?,” and the answer is “No, it does not exist.” And then the yellow light goes off. Already, it’s weird, and immediately the judge tells him to slow down. So this strange and frank detail, which contains a huge amount of violence, is immediately kind of overwritten by the light, by the way, the court makes a demand on the voice and what it needs to sound like. When the yellow light flashes a second time, he freezes for over a minute, his testimony entirely derailed. In another instance, Marie Vaillant-Couturier responds to the yellow light by altering her speech to an incredibly robotic staccato […].” (McHugh, Camila. “Lawrence Abu Hamdan on Translation, Nuremberg, and the Juridical Unconscious.” The Online Edition of Artforum International Magazine, 12 Oct. 2021, https://www.artforum.com/interviews/lawrence-abu-hamdan-on-translation-nuremberg-and-the-juridica l-unconscious-86875)

Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s work reveals the violence of being interrupted to testify. If someone’s testimony can be influenced by the light of a machine that’s regarded as neutral and emotionless, then how can a human – regarded as a subjective – tune in to the speaker better? Furthermore, what does ‘neutral mean? Should a person who has the power to listen exercise “neutrality” as emotionless? I would say no.

The role of listening should not be an appraiser, also that doesn’t mean they should be a saviour. Instead, it has to be an alliance so that they could pull together throughout the whole process of complaining to protest. This non-vertical relationship is woven and formed based on listening and understanding. Thus, let’s start to imagine a cord that is made of sturdy trust and patience weaved together. Remember, you can’t weave a cord with a single strand. Two strands have to be twisted together. The code that we made together like this could be the last hope we can hold and help the complaint to get out from the bottom of the sea like a rope. Or this code can be the link that allows complaints to reach us.

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Compulsory * Complaint 1

In her book, Sara Ahmed keeps talking about how the complaint is not conceived seriously and authentically. Likes she mentioned, inside of the cabinet, we can easily find out a dead complaint buried intentionally which is the general end of the complaint. Furthermore, she mentioned “holding the doors” (chapter 6). In this chapter, she depicts the attributes of the complaint itself or attributes of the process of complaint. “I can hold the door for you.” is the same meaning as “I can hold the door for you till I want.” So the meaning of “holding door” or “hearing complaint” is always up to the discretion of the gatekeeper and listener.

During reading her books, I focused on the fact that every complaint has a different narrative and context. But even though it comes from a discrete background, most of the complaints are written in the same form and lose their own story during the process of “hearing”. In a way, keeping the ambiguity of complaints is key to the revival of buried complaints. Eventually, I conclude, AMBIGUITY is only concretized through an individual platform. However institutional systems deny and disregard the exceptional and ambiguous situation exceedingly. Thus, they define all problems in a form.

On the other hand, forcing integrity and authenticity on complainers is another kind of violence. This problem also applies to the form that must be marked ‘compulsory’(*) on one of their designated entry. Most often, the word “genuine” or “truth” is abused and misused. Especially if you are in the position of “hearing”, you’d say “I want to know the truth of the whole story.” Thus, you want to dig the truth. Eventually, it will hurt the person you are facing now despite the truth only existing regardless of the role of “hearing”.

Thus, I started to question how can I let the complaint be exposed to the surface like it was supposed to be without interpretation and intervention. The process of hearing should be distinct from imposing. Then, what can I do for complaint when the time has been passed to expose so it has been stuck down below. Furthermore, as a result, what is the role of the “listener”?

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I

While the speaker made a complaint, there was another “I” who heard the complaint.

This “I” was, usually, or could be, a close friend or family.

However, the Emotional Worker or Counter Staff was the first person – who picked up the phone and answered or provided the basic requirements and guided the procedure and this could have been their first encounter.

This “I” is in charge and makes them fill the formula, asks them to wait till next week or next month, and delivers the papers to the committee.

 I (the counter staff, the emotional worker) had the duty of encoding or numbering the REAL COMPLAINT into JUST LETTERS and categorizing these complaints according to a given method.

In this numbered paper, there was no FACE, VOICE, EMOTION or indication that ‘I’ was heard.

I felt that they gasped for breath when they were angry and devastated. But when the complaints were delivered to the superiors, they could only see the well-ordered words. There was no reality. Thus, at some point, whenever I encountered THE SPEAKER, I pretended that I couldn’t hear-see-feel their complaints. 

This is my confession which I regret making rather late in time. I worked for many years as counter staff and I still remember passing the speaker by with an empty look. These memories struck me vividly while I read this book.

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I

Unfortunately, the entire process of making the complaint is laid with privatizing the complaint. 

Compared with making criticism, during the procedure of making a complaint mostly have the I, or first person. 

So relevantly, the complaint itself involves – who struggles with making a complaint – I, the first person that is speaking.

This person is directly concerned as a complainer which is easily entailed to a label or document as Sara Ahmed said. 

And during the complaint work, I realized “Me and my complaint could not be separated.”

Internalizing the complaint naturally happens to I, but not to others. At the same time, I even experience that people equated me and my complaint.

“My complaint is not my whole, but still, this is affecting me” 

For approving the existing I, existing complaint, the first person has become a speaker again and again. 

Through enduring pain, their bodies [voice, face, tremble … ] represent testimony.

And It began to be a citation.

If bodies can end up in documents, and documents can end up in files, bodies can also be files or perhaps bodies can be filing cabinets, holders of multiple files. What is filed away by institutions can be stored in our bod- ies, experienced often as weight. The body of the complainer is a testimony to the work of complaint

Sara Ahmed “Complaints!” 2021