“The official “Tishreen” newspaper had published a report, on July 3, in which it explained that house rents have increased by more than 75% in the capital, Damascus, and recorded record numbers ranging between 200,000 and 300,000 Syrian pounds.
The newspaper said that the majority of homeowners ask the tenant to pay a full year’s rent, and a few ask for six months.” 1 (Enad Baladi newspaper, 2020)
This case is about an artist who lives in Damascus. She goes to her studio, far enough from her house and the city, she finds out that someone broke in. A small unprotected room on the roof of a building in one of Damascus’ suburbs. Paintings were on the ground, the thieves stole some little things and a bag of friends, tools that have been accompanying the artist since she started painting.
Taya once again returns to the studio to document her long trip there for us but you can only see the roof from the whole video, you can see the gray city from there.
I sink into her short documented memories and mess with the tools on my cellphone to edit this low-quality video, like the rest of them. I sink into her videos and remember all of the studios she rented and her stories about them, then I remember the only studio I rented in 2019, for a year and a half, being there endlessly.
We speak and treat this matter – having a studio- as if it were a house.
To have a studio means having two jobs, one to provide your art, and one to create your art. Yet imagine doing that in Syria where unemployment rates in the country among the entire adult population reached 50%, while it reached 78% among the youth. That is without getting into the details of the poverty and exploitation of the Syrian art market which barely exists except for a few. Also without mentioning the prices of materials and the generally very low income.
Above in the quote and the text lies the reason why renting a studio is a hard job for an artist in Syria, and why Taya could not get a secured place. Below, in the video lie memories of a young artist who needs a place to create, otherwise, she has no place in this world.
Sara deals with different methods of stopping complaints in chapter two “On being stopped”. I was interested in the phenomenon of <<complaints stopped by a yes>>, referring to nodding, as explained in the book, but also to yeses that with time turns into noes. Or yeses that after going into detail or going in further phases turn into noes.
I wanted to make an image to explain it so I did this. We find a “yes” that after going through a door(?) turns into a “no” without even giving a reason.
I am intrigued by the difference and distinguishment of formal and informal complaints. The book Complaint! By Sara Ahmed mainly addresses formal types of complaining but encourages complaining in all forms and shapes. “Formal” complaints are consider here those ones that follow procedures given by the institution, and “informal” are those who don’t ask for permission, are done without premeditated or stablished frame. I know filling forms and reporting in legal ways is the lets-say-propper-way to do things but is the informal way of complaining that captures my attention.
As Sara explains in Part III “Participation and protection”, there is a power when an action or protest reaches and interferes the reputation of the institution. It is this moment when the structure moves and reacts to an “attack”. If the procedure is kept in the shade of a folder it is less likely to success. I suggest that the procedures kept in the silent corridors of the institution can benefit when they are combined with posters, megaphones and graffitis.
But for sure there is a risk to sound radical, to make “too much noise” and be seen as over exaggerating. This might cause “neutral” people reject the original cause because of the “extremism”. This makes me think about what I have heard from (other) adults around me when protest and riots happen in the street and urban furniture or public properties are damaged. You can often hear things like “yes, I think the same but they have tho mind their manners”. I am sorry I do not care that much about those trash cans. Anyway, I can understand this but I will try to explain my point in the next paragraphs. I would like to add that writing about this confrontates my insides as it has been a while since I do any non formal complain that has this kind of impact. I am -just- writing in the internet.
In any case, here I share an overview of a good example where formal and informal types of complaining collide and work together. This is Emma Sulkowicz’s Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight). It is mentioned in Sara Ahmed´s book in page 290 as an example to “turn spaces into complaints”. This case of complaint activism consist of complaining about the sexual assaults that happens in the campus of Columbia University. (Morningside Heights, Manhattan, in New York City). In this case, the former art student Emma Sulkowicz alleged to be raped by another student of the University and the institution never positioned in order to protect the victim. Her aim was to get the University to expel the alleged rapist. She made paperwork as well as act of protest in order to call attention to her situation.
She carried a mattress around campus as showing the physical place and physical burden that she has to carry. It was a 23 kg university dormitory mattress that she would have to carry following the rules of engagement she decided until her rapist was taken out of the University. The rules were written in the walls of her studio and she considers the piece as an endurance performance art. He was never expelled from the University and the paperwork procedure finished without charges, as a lack of reasonable suspicion.
Emma’s complaint was filled 8 months after the encounter and she made it mainly after knowing that two other female students who said they had also been victimized by him. After Emma’s complaint, these other students also filed complaints with the university against the same masculine student. This is a clear example of the behavior of complaints.
“One story coming out can lead to more stories coming out”
Sara Ahmed, Complaint!. Pg 8
Having the both paths to show discomfort about a rape situation (paperwork and performance), I would like to proceed and evaluate them as in different stats that can define the “power” of a complaint. Inspired by the interner phenomenon of “Tier lists” where users subjectively rank for example the characters of a video game based on stablished criteria, I will try to rank complaints as my own established stats.
I thought about five parameters to calculate how good a complaint is: – The importance for the person making the complaint. Does the person complaining feel satisfied with this action. – The impact on the environment. How did it affect to the mates, colleagues, team, family… – The impact on the institution. How did it affect the people that work in the institution/are part of the structure that the person complains about. – The changes on the institution. Did it change any rule or policy in the institution – The safety for the person making the complaint. Did the complainer expose themself to any possible external attack (example: revealing their names or face, being a body in a hostile space, compromising their career…)
This Emma Sulkowicz’s complaint comparison would look like the image below
Knowing the performance has better stats than the paperwork, I would suggest the performance would be in a higher rank in the list than the other option. But could the performance live without the paperwork? I could also consider if the complaint was only consisting about the performance, it would have been taken completely different by the public. The paperwork, the boring folder, is what grounds the procedure for the “real world”. Me personally, I hate to say this as I do find this ethically good but I also have to acknowledge the structure in which the institution positions us.
In my opinion, Emmas performance was a great example of the fruitfully relation between these two types of complaining. The performance made its way to media so it could gather attention of viewers. Therefore, the so mentioned environment grew. On the other hand, none of the paths had any “real” change in the institution. Should we think this complaint was a failure? I would leave that to the consideration of the viewer as I consider there is no way to have an answer for this. That also makes me think, how would a complaint with impeccable stats be? Is that even possible?
Rethinking the image, it also comes to my mind that it is overall sad. Despite the effort and time spent there was no real change in the institution. For sure, the noise being made and the attention in the case is not bad and it is better like this than without it. The times I am feeling weak and tragic I look at the “real” results and it just gives me hopelessness. Is it worth doing it?
As a conclusion, I understand the importance of the tedious filling forms format but I will always reassess and support the other kinds of complaints. (maybe they could be called in German as “bunte Beschwerden”?)
Ahmed, S. (2021). Complaint!. New York, USA: Duke University Press. https://doi.org/10.1515/9781478022336
Last month, three graduate students in Harvard University’s Anthropology department- Margaret G. Czerwienski, Lilia M. Kilburn, and Amulya Mandava – filed a 65-page lawsuit against the university over the way it has handled sexual misconduct complaints involving anthropologist John Comaroff. According to the lawsuit, Camaroff “kissed and groped stu-dents without their consent, made unwelcome sexual advances, and threatened to sabotage students’ careers if they complained. When students reported him to Harvard and sought to warn their peers about him, Harvard watched as he retaliated by foreclosing career paths and ensuring that those students would have ‘trouble getting jobs.’”1
At the centerpiece of the lawsuit are the comments Comaroff made as Ms. Kilburn met him in his office to discuss her planned fieldwork in Africa. Ms. Kilbun recalls how Comaroff graphcally described she “’ would be raped’ or killed in certain parts of Africa” if she chose to do her work field there since she is in a lesbian relationship. Comaroff also reminded Ms. Kilburn of “the power he now wielded over her career,” 2 and as she tried to change adviser to avoid Comaroff, he cut her off from other professors.3
The lawsuit, New York Times writes, is “the latest strike in more than a year of allegations being parried back and forth in the case against Dr. Comaroff”, many of which are documented in The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Among them are anonymous allegations dating back to before Comaroff started working at Harvard in 2012.4 According to the lawsuit, during the process of hiring Comaroff, the Chair of Harvard’s Department of African and African American studies was warned by Comaroff’s former students at the University of Chicago, where he was considered a “predator” and a “groomer“. They “could have influenced the hiring decision, supervised Comaroff, or implemented safeguards – and protected Harvard’s students.” Yet they welcomed and “empowered Professor Comaroff,”5 the lawsuit says.
New York Times reports that Comaroff was placed on unpaid leave after the school’s investigations found that he violated sexual harassment and professional conduct policies, “but he was not found responsible for unwanted sexual contact.”6
The lawsuit surfaced many unsettling issues, among them the allegation that Harvard accessed Ms. Kilburn’s private therapy records without her consent and revealed them to Comaroff, who then used them to discredit Ms. Kilburn’s accusation. 7 I will link the lawsuit and a few well-rounded articles about the allegations and how they were handled at the end of this post. Following the case feels like reading an almost real-time case study in Complaint!, and especially has reminded me of the section COMPLAINTS AND COLLEGIALI-TY in the book:
The department was warned about Comaroff’s previous misconduct at the University of Chicago and him being “surrounded by “pervasive allegations of sexual misconduct”. Harvard hired him anyway. 8 “Sometimes you hire people whom you like, or who are like those who are already there. “ 9 Ahmed writes. She notes that a broad instructional problem of harassing and bullying often indicate “an informal or casual culture around hiring”, recalling a lecturer who had told her that people often talk about candidates as “he’s the guy you’d want to have a pint with.”10 “When you make a complaint, you often learn about how power is wielded.”11 before the lawsuit, 38 Harvard faculty members signed an open letter supposedly questioning the process that sanctioned Comaroff. The letter is, however, also a love letter to their “excellent colleague.”
We the undersigned know John Comaroff to be an excellent colleague, advisor and commit-ted university citizen who has for five decades trained and advised hundreds of Ph.D. students of diverse backgrounds, who have subsequently become leaders in universities across the world.12
They also addressed the rape comments, adding that they would be “ethically compelled to offer the same advice” if they were to advise Ms. Kilburn regarding studies in Africa.13 Harvard Law Professor Janet Halley issued a statement calling the comments “legitimate office-hours advice.” Professor Jean Comaroff – yes, Comaroff’s wife – criticized the complaints in her statement as an “attack on academic freedom.”14
“When some colleagues are friends, they are who end up being defended.”15 Ahmed writes. The faculty members jumped to defend their excellent colleague without being informed about the details of the complaints. That’s not my assumption – but their words. Shortly after the lawsuit went public, all but three professors said they wish to retract their names from the letter.16
What has happened? I am making assumptions here – but what if their change of heart and retraction from supporting their predator college was less because they suddenly noticed their lack of information and the impact of their word on the students17, and more about their reputation being on the line? The lawsuit did receive attention, much more than the scattered complaints filed in the previous year. All of a sudden, the discussion was not taking place behind closed doors and between colleagues. People were talking about it on the internet, it was receiving media attention. Harvard is a big name, and the cat is out of the bag. (and has slid through the closing door, smart cat)
According to the lawsuit, Comaroff once compared himself to Harvey Weinstein at a dinner with faculty and graduate students, saying “They’re coming for me next!”18 This is telling of how untouchable he felt. But also, ironically true as in the way his colleagues were quick enough to distance themselves from him when it got clear that the issue is getting out of hand. Such was the case with the disgraced Hollywood mogul.19 His wife, Jean Comaroff, who was also present at the dinner event, later belittled the sexual harassment complaints commenting “Whatever happened to rolling with the punches?” 20
Just roll with the punches. Just loosen up. Feminists: so sex-negative. So uptight. Don’t over-react, don’t be so divisive. 21
Back to the rape comments. The way Comaroff pals and colleague tried to downplay them reminded me of a section in Complaint!, where physical violence towards a student who was trying to “flee” from the office of the head of the department was apparently “on par with a handshake.”22 Comaroff thinking loudly about how his student is going to get raped is described as “legitimate officehour advice”23 As Ahmed writes, “violence can be removed from an action by how an action is described.”24
The lawsuit further criticizes Harvard’s Title IX office, pointing out that the office did not act on complaints regarding Comaroff and has time and again discouraged students going down the formal complaint route: Ms. Czerwienski was told in October 2017 that filing a formal report would be “futile”25 Ms. Kilburn states that her complaints on May 2019 were “was met with predictable indifference”26 , even though the officer knew who Ms. Kilburn wanted to talk about. At a recent demonstration in the Yard Kilburn said “The Title IX system was supposed to be the solution, Instead, it’s become part of the problem.”27
I was listening to the sound of machinery: the clunk, clunk that was telling me that inefficiency is not just the failure of things to work properly but is also how things are working.28
Harvard enabled and protected the predator for years, and that in a field as small as anthropology, where a downvote from a professor as influential as Comaroff could be the end of the academic career.29 only to take action when the students decided to go public.30
As of February 21, several of Harvard’s tenured Anthropology faculty asked. Comaroff to resign, stating that they have “lost confidence” in him as a professor.31
Is this a good ending? I genuinely do not know. One (possibly) destroyed academic career after years and years of predatory and abusive behavior, harassment, ruining careers and lives. What if it was a smaller university? Would the story still have been covered by New York Times or the Guardian? Would “going public” have made a difference?
I end this short report with Czerwienski’s final words at the recent campus demonstration:
We need to keep insisting as loudly as we can, as often as we can, in as many places and to as many people in power as we can, that this system must change.… The University wants us to throw our little rally and go away. But it’s our job to make sure they’ve got another thing coming.32
The Harvard Magazine writes: “A few minutes later, the demonstrators dispersed, amid chants of, ‘We’ll be back, we’ll be back!’”33
The complete lawsuit https://www.thecrimson.com/PDF/2022/2/9/Czerwienski-et-al-v-harvard-filing/
New York Times: A Lawsuit Accuses Harvard of Ignoring Sexual Harassment by a Professor https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/08/us/harvard-sexual-harassment-lawsuit.html
New York Times: After Sexual Harassment Lawsuit, Critics Attack Harvard’s Release of Therapy Records https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/15/us/harvard-kilburn-therapy-records.html
The Cut: All the Alarming Allegations in Harvard’s Sexual-Harassment Suit https://www.thecut.com/2022/02/harvard-sued-for-institutional-indifference-to-harassment.html
Czerwienski et al. v. Harvard, February 9, 2022, 10, https://www.thecrimson.com/PDF/2022/2/9/Czerwienski-et-al-v-harvard-filing/.
Anemona Hartocollis ,“A Lawsuit Accuses Harvard of Ignoring Sexual Harassment by a Professor,” The New York Times, last modified February 9, 2022, last accessed March 06, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/08/us/harvard-sexual-harassment-lawsuit.html.
Czerwienski et al. v. Harvard, 11.
The New York Times, “A Lawsuit Accuses Harvard of Ignoring Sexual Harassment by a Professor”
Czerwienski et al. v. Harvard, 33.
Sara Ahmed, Complaint! (Durham: Duke University Press, 2021), 189.
Ahmed, Complaint! , 190.
Isabella B. Cho and Ariel H. Kim,“38 Harvard Faculty Sign Open Letter Questioning Results of Misconduct Investigations into Prof. John Comaroff” The Harvard Crimson, February 2, 2022, last accessed March 06, 2022, https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2022/2/4/comaroff-sanctions-open-letter/.
Czerwienski et al. v. Harvard, 39.
Ahmed, Complaint! , 190.
Ariel H. Kim and Meimei Xu,“35 Harvard Professors Retract Support for Letter Questioning Results of Comaroff Investigations” The Harvard Crimson, Last modified February 11, 2022, last accessed March 06, 2022, https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2022/2/10/comaroff-faculty-letter-retraction/.
Czerwienski et al. v. Harvard, 18.
“Harvey Weinstein’s allies distance themselves as allegations grow,” October 11, 2017, video, https://www.cbsnews.com/video/harvey-weinstein-allies-distance-themselves-as-allegations-grow/.
Czerwienski et al. v. Harvard, 18.
Ahmed, Complaint! , 248.
Ibid , 168.
Czerwienski et al. v. Harvard, 39.
Ahmed, Complaint! , 180.
Czerwienski et al. v. Harvard, 17.
Czerwienski et al. v. Harvard, 23.
Lydialile Gibson,“Lawsuit Alleges Harvard Mishandled Harassment Complaints” The Harvard Magazine, February 16, 2022, last accessed March 06, 2022, https://www.harvardmagazine.com/2022/02/lawsuit-alleges-harvard-mishandled-harassment-complaints-against-john-comaroff.
Ahmed, Complaint! , 94.
Czerwienski et al. v. Harvard, 65.
Meimei Xu,“15 Harvard Anthropology Professors Call on Comaroff to Resign Over Sexual Harassment Allegations” The Harvard Crimson, February 21, 2022, last accessed March 06, 2022,https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2022/2/21/anthropology-faculty-call-for-comaroff-resignation/.
This book and the time I spent reading this book were a ride. Here are the thoughts I gathered as a first approach to comment it and what I have learnt from it. I hope you enjoy it. As Mohombi said once “It’s gonna be a bumpy ride” 
I am late. This post is late. I should have done this way earlier. I should have started with this way before. But I started on time, way back. It is just that it never showed. I feel bad about this delay. This should not have been this way. What happened? But I do not want to complain about this. Or shall I? No, no. I will not complain because that would mean to excuse myself in a way I do not want. But on the other hand the things that make my excuses for being late are things I really do not like.I am drained from those things. This is not an apology. What is this then?
But these are just excuses and if I excuse myself I don’t like this feeling. I do not like it because I feel that I carry a burden and I do not want to carry a burden. But I carry it anyway. Also, who would care. I am just late. It is not such a big deal. It is mainly me who feels bad about it. Get over it. Grow a pair or something like that.
Ah but please do not be that hard on yourself. Treat yourself with care. How can I take care of myself in order to improve without damage. How can I stop the voice that hits me in my head. It is not such a big deal, isn’t it.
It is hard for me to understand the limits of the complain and the whine (I will talk about this in another moment). Maybe I do not know what complaint is. I think I am biased because I consider the majority of my complaints never managed to work. They were formal and informal ones. Sometimes I think I do not think I believe in complaints.
This book makes me angry and makes me sad and makes me feel useless and not enough. That was probably not the purpose of it. But I feel personally attacked and I do not enjoy it. What is happening. What is this. I feel a big discomfort and I am filled with unease. I should have complained in a proper way and I never did. I should have shared it in that moment, now it will be useless. But also…Why am I complaining? I should be grateful, it is not that bad, just live with it. In other times this was harder, not it is way better. The adult voices that were implemented in my soft head now repeat inside of it. But I managed to dodge this adult voices in my adolescence, I was strong. Why can’t I take them out now? How did they pierce my skull? Why do I hear them? I was stronger.
What I learnt from this readings is an avalanche of nuisance because I feel small in a hostile world. Because I know the world is made up by institutions (institutions called structures) and they are not made for us. They are made by us but do not cooperate with us. What is this gap? Why when a big structure is created it starts lacking tenderness? I am afraid of big structures. But everything is a structure. I am afraid I am part of a structure.
I consider this was a complaint, somehow the worst kind of complaint, the non-effective complaint, the whining type. But I have complained and I have complained about the fact that I have complained as well. Therefore, am I carrying two burdens now?
 Khayat, N, Salmanzadeh, I, Hajji, B, Jannusi, B (2010). Bumpy ride [Recorded by Mohombi]. On MoveMeant [Audio file]. Retrieved from https://open.spotify.com/track/71R6zJsrF3ffc3TBFHfivX?si=320b4eff09904bd4
Big gratitude to all those enthusiastic people that have made complaining such a rewarding activity.
T.Kalleinen & O.Kochta Kalleinen
Opening the door of the radical wardrobe
From the very beginning of my professional complaining career in winter 2021, I traveled with the book of S.Ahmed and my little diary through everyday situations. At first, I took advantage of the Complainitivism blog to store there everything I could not in other places. Safe-travels blogging. I embraced the chance to hang out in the cheap hostels in Cairo, my WG in Weimar, and different flats and places I inhabited since that stimulated my writings. I remember most of my life I was so loud in complaining, loving it, and hating it simultaneously. On the other hand, it was such a good tool to protect not just me, but also somebody who could be bullied due to no voice. It means transforming the voice into something useful instead of using it for something that empowers the ego. Me, the protector, the rescuer – the one that provides space, I pictured. It already happened – entering the world of displeasure through the texts, and diving into the whole new world of complaining as art practice. There was the moment when the book divider cut Sara Ahmed’s piece in half, somewhere around Occupiedspaces in Part IV, and I felt precisely the task I had – to take care of the voices pragmatically instead of theoretically. To give complaints somewhere to go and open the door. The same day I decided to propose a project called Bauhaus Complaints Choir.
Something itchy decisively and loudly screams from the bodies of these young people – I thought after the first Complaintivsm live session. Emotions and openness were splashing the walls of the institution, group therapy as if nothing will exist after it. The respect for my wonderful colleagues, it is my true pleasure to share the walls with them, while pretending that the walls do not exist. How will we proceed? How to root out the issues we mentioned there and eradicate the origin of the problem? This was the basis for the cabinet I imagined creating. The place of the singing drawers, a closet full of thoughts. The words that gravitate towards the reform and aim to dissolve the complex procedures.
BCC (Bauhaus Complaints Choir) is an experimental chorus aiming to structure and coordinate the complaints within the institution. While giving a space for the voices of the students, professors, and all employees of our university, I and my colleague Margarita Garcia decided on creating the lyrics out of the complaints we receive. Making a complaint within the institution often requires reflecting on it. BCC is a cabinet for both institutionally and privately held complaints. Allof them are welcome. The music follows the dynamics of the writings, combining global, indigenous, dispossessed, classic, and experimental.
I must share a sort of disappointment regarding the response within the BCC (Bauhaus Complaints Choir) open call, that weirdly hurt me. My fragile ego was mixing the anger, protest, sadness, and actual result of the call. For weeks there was no complaint on the form. I wondered what is the problem? There must be something standing between a person who is about to voice their displeasure and me building a cabinet and waiting for it. Is there a bug in the system, a mistake in the approach?
‘’Hey Nadja, this rocks. ‘’ ‘’Bravo, I hope you get a lot of complaints.’’ ‘’This is such an important project! ‘’ ‘’Girl, this is what this university needs.’’
…but no complaint was appearing on our form, nor being dropped in the mail. No letter, no notification, no displeasure. It might be that I have made a piece of marketing, a product, and lost its actual objective on the way. One person even texted me that she would like to participate, but she really does not have anything to complain about. Even an apology followed this statement. I was feeding the air, the social media, and idea, but not the people, I suppose. On the other hand, there was this question: Are we so overwhelmed with the individual, inner complaints that the task to complain somewhere else, outside, feels like one more errand? I do understand this. I do not blame. I am, myself, having way too many on my list.
However, some complaints made BCC’s idea fight for its existence in my head, still taking the failure as the legitimate and integral part of the process. At some point, the letters started appearing – the response came from the crowd.
“If you have to complain because of failed processes, you have to enter yet more failed processes.” S.Ahmed
If I am about to create a real cabinet for the complaints, I should take care of it in the best possible way. I have to learn from the empty spaces in the form, as much from the filled ones. Moreover, it is just the beginning of BCC’s radical wardrobe, and the door has just opened.
Valituskuoro: Who sings the things?
Valituskuoro: Who sings the things?
The world of diverse voices amazes me. From the collective art performances to the theater stage happening, I was always a big devotee and admirer of this kind of noise. Except for the melody of the crow, I am in love with complaining as a sport of choice. Therefore, I started searching for enthusiasts in the same field.
In the Finnish vocabulary, there is the expression “Valituskuoro (literally ‘’Complaints Choir’’) and it is used to describe situations where a lot of people are complaining simultaneously. In my research, I found the two names that are taking this expression seriously.
It is my true pleasure to introduce the artist duo Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen and Tellervo Kalleinen, Helsinki-based contemporary artists working with cinema, installation, performance, and events. In their practice, they attempt to merge the languages and approaches of several disciplines, such as film, performance, game design, experimental education, facilitation, social architecture, and alternative economies. They construct situations and invite people to join her for collective adventures.
Complaints choirs took place in primary schools, streets, churches, villages, and big cities… Complainers started their movement worldwide. Better said, they occupied spaces.
Another example is The Resistance Revival Chorus from New York that introduces themselves as activists exploring music and musicians exploring activism. RRC is a collective of more than 60 women and non-binary singers, who join together to breathe joy and song into the resistance and to uplift and center women’s voices. Chorus members are touring musicians, film and television actors, Broadway performers, solo recording artists, gospel singers, political activists, educators, filmmakers, artists, and more, representing a multitude of identities, professions, creative backgrounds, and activist causes. And we have now the BCC (Bauhaus Complaints Choir) that exists in specific time and space. We are students, designers, artists, filmmakers, supervisors, tutors, professors, activists, protesters, everyday people. We are the diverse voices of a particular context and we aim to voice up.
Say complaint – and there I am, building my professional complaining career.
To participate in the Bauhaus Complaints Choir, please enter here.
This fairytale is a well-established concept, an interpretation, and the invention of the main protagonist of the story.
“My poor little Nadja, I wish I could scoop up your remains every time you fall apart,” she said, addressing herself, facing the text her thoughts had just woven.
The story consists of a bunch of words in English, many complaints, self-criticism, world criticism, global politics, conflicts, and personal reflections. Its content is not actually a story at all. It is more of a fake, fictional etymology of the Serbian word “beznadje” which started all this textual fuss.
ONE AND ONLY CHAPTER: ALL THE LET’S
Neoliberal capitalism breeds charming little monsters. My name is Nadja, welcome to my overexistence.
There is a word in my mother tongue, a word in which I had planted my ego years ago and have watered it ever since. In Serbian, we say beznadje / beznađe meaning hopelessness or more precisely: without hope. This compound combines the word bez (without) with my beautiful name (Nadja), by coincidence. The world without Nadja makes me sad. Sometimes I blame my small, generous family for splashing so much love onto me. You are guilty of my ego plantation and egocentric perspective. You made me overexist. There are times when I miss them so much that being so far away from their warm, loving bodies tears me apart. Time has shown me that they are the creators of the most beautiful and disgusting things that my being consists of. Let’s discuss it in my monologue.
My anxiety is reversed. Instead of, as a hedgehog or a snail, squeezing my face inwards, I go for more of what makes me anxious in the first place. Instead of covering my face with an emergency blanket, I apply for a new open call, I make a new friend, and I make new art. I overwhelm myself, volunteering for my own destruction. I stretch my body on the ceilings of contexts I do not even belong. It hurts so damn much being a captive of your own brain. It makes me feel trapped, stupid, unable to progress. I have been hanging on this clothesline ever since, and it seems I won’t pick up my clothes soon. Let me dry.
I am tired of being excited. Recently I asked my mom if I was born like this. I believe I was: strongly into everything along the way, wanting, eager for everywhere and everyone, not belonging, not existing for real, never loving anybody but their love for me, never accepting anything that does not benefit me in some way… The vicious cycle of every, any, every. The excited monster always wants to see another garden and love another flower. I am a factory. My production is unbelievably fast, so is my consumption. However, I do understand this method of mine very well, I simply fear not having the options. If I get one NO, there is something about to be a YES. If he leaves me, there is another HE loving me in the background. If you make me choose just one, I will disappear from it, whatever it is. I am a union of the contexts and queen of my clothing. I am not one, but plural. Let me be swallowed by my monsters, it is the only way to survive.
I thought about the book title that I might write if I switch from art to popular psychology book title copywriting. “How to plant, cultivate, and water your multiple egos”. Best-seller, right? I would give a course on multitasking, productive puma advice, and self-destruction, inevitably. And what is with me and this puma thing? I do compare myself to a black panther on a daily basis. Let me be the best there is in the capitalist jungle.
Yesterday I cried my face off while jogging through a German landscape. It felt like it was about to explode. I am not sure what exactly, but I felt its shape right above my bladder, growing and pulsing. Like a creature. I gave birth inside my belly. The pregnant puma is starting to feel the pain. It hurts so much. It pierces and paralyzes me. I cannot do this anymore. Stretched over my red sofa, I tried to collect the puzzle pieces and get through the fog I found myself surrounded with. It felt so blurry that I didn’t even know how to carry myself from the sofa over to my bed in the corner. It took my excited body and it suffocated me. How can I live in this world without Nadja? If she becomes tired and sad, what is this all about? She hurts me, she is killing me. I want her to calm down and pick up the fucking clothes.
Wenn wir ungerecht behandelt werden, beschweren wir uns dann oder nehmen wir es hin? Dies ist eine Frage für Kinder, die vielleicht nicht zögern, sich zu beschweren. Aber wenn wir älter werden und mehr Erfahrung haben, sind wir oft hin- und hergerissen, ob wir uns beschweren sollen. Es ist möglich, dass man schon einmal eine gescheiterte Beschwerde erlebt hat. Oder das Verfahren zur Einreichung einer Beschwerde hat einen durch die Mangel gedreht. Oder wenn die Beschwerde am Ende erfolgreich war, hatten die Menschen in anderer Hinsicht eine Menge negativer Folgen. Diese Gründe mögen der Grund dafür sein, dass viele Erwachsene lieber schweigen, als sich zu beschweren. Ich glaube, dass niemand im Leben sein Leben kompliziert, voller Kämpfe und nicht so friedlich gestalten möchte. So viele Menschen entscheiden sich für das Aushalten, um dies zu vermeiden. Aushalten ist eigentlich eine notwendige Lebenskompetenz für Menschen, weil das reale Leben voll von Ungerechtigkeiten ist, die sich nur schwer vermeiden lassen. Aber ich möchte sagen, dass diejenigen, die es wagen, sich zu beschweren und zu wehren und bis zum Ende ausharren, wahre Krieger sind. Sie sind diejenigen, die man bewundern sollte. Wenn sie mit ihren Klagen erfolgreich sind, profitiert nicht nur eine Einzelperson, sondern eine Gruppe von Menschen – die Gruppe, die sich in einer ähnlichen Situation befindet, aber Angst hat, sich zu beschweren. Beschwerdeführer tun das, was die meisten Menschen gern tun würden, sich aber nicht trauen zu tun.
In diesem Sommer kam es in China zu einer einflussreichen Beschwerde. Die Klage war erfolgreich und hat zu einer weiteren Verbesserung des sozialen Status der Frauen in China geführt. Ich bewundere die mutige Frau, die die Beschwerde eingereicht hat. Ich möchte beschreiben, was passiert ist: Es gibt zwei Protagonisten. Einer ist WU Yifan, ein sehr berühmter Mann in China. Der andere ist DU Meizhu, eine Studentin im zweiten Studienjahr.
Am 8. Juli 2021 beschuldigte Frau Du Herrn Wu auf Weibo, einer chinesischen Medienplattform, des sexuellen Fehlverhaltens. In ihrer Anschuldigung gibt sie an, dass sie von Wu vergewaltigt worden sei, nachdem sie gezwungen wurde, Alkohol zu trinken. Sie sagte, zum Zeitpunkt des Übergriffs nur 17 Jahre alt gewesen zu sein, außerdem fügte sie Bilder und Screenshots von Nachrichten bei.
Nach dem Vorfall wurde Frau Du von Herr Wus Agentur mit Schweigegeld entschädigt, aber erst zwei Jahre später hatte sie den Mut, sich zu äußern. In einem weiteren Posting schrieb Frau Du, dass es weitere Fälle gab, in denen Herr Wu andere Frauen betrunken machte und sie dann vergewaltigte. Später sagte sie, dass sie weder das erste noch das letzte Opfer gewesen sei, nachdem sich weitere Frauen (darunter zwei Minderjährige) bei ihr gemeldet hatten, um ähnliche Erfahrungen mit Herr Wu zu teilen.
Auf seinem persönlichen Weibo-Account bestritt Herr Wu, Frau Du Alkohol zugeführt zu haben, wies auch die Anschuldigungen zurück, wonach er Mädchen vergewaltigt habe, während sie bewusstlos waren, und Sex mit Minderjährigen gehabt habe. Er kündigte außerdem an, dass sein Unternehmen rechtliche Schritte einleiten werde und bezeichnete die Anschuldigungen als böswillige Gerüchte.
Am 16. August 2021 wurde Herr Wu wegen des Vorwurfs der Vergewaltigung formell verhaftet.
Zum Glück ging es schließlich in die richtige Richtung, auch wenn es ein sehr schwieriger Prozess war. Frau Du hatte in der Anfangsphase nicht viele Unterstützer, da viele Leute dachten, dass sie nur versuchen würde, das Offensichtliche zu nutzen, um ihren Bekanntheitsgrad zu erhöhen. Auch das Team von Herrn WU versuchte zunächst, sie von einer Beschwerde abzuhalten und war bereit, dafür viel Geld auszugeben. Aber Frau Du war damit nicht einverstanden. Dann begann Herr WU mit Drohungen.
Herr Wu benutzte seine Fans, um online Gewalt gegen sie zu entfesseln, sie online zu verhöhnen, zu beschimpfen und sogar Morddrohungen auszusprechen. Und er benutzte seinen Anwalt, um Frau DU einen Anwaltsbrief zu schicken.
Wie im Buch “Complaint!” beschrieben:
“I noted in my discussion of warnings that if the complainer persists, a warning is turned into a threat or the threat that is already in the warning is made more explicit.” (S. 85)
Es ist schwer vorstellbar, unter welchem Druck Frau Du zu dieser Zeit stand. Und sie war so jung. Aber sie beharrte auf ihrer Beschwerde und teilte weiterhin wichtige Informationen online mit. Je weiter die Dinge voranschritten, desto mehr Unterstützung erhielt sie von anderen Menschen. Da Herr WU gegen das Gesetz verstoßen hatte, wurde schließlich die Polizei eingeschaltet und die Angelegenheit auf diese Weise geklärt. Der Erfolg dieser Klage hat dazu geführt, dass immer mehr Frauen in China es wagen, sich zu beschweren. Beschwerden über häusliche Gewalt, Beschwerden über geschlechtsspezifische Diskriminierungen, Beschwerden über sexuelle Belästigungen usw. Ich hoffe also immer noch, dass die Beschwerdeführer (Krieger) mehr Unterstützung erhalten.
Zwei Zitate aus dem Buch “Complaint!” lauten:
“And so we also learn that those who have the least need to complain tend to be those who can most afford to complain, and those who have the most need to complain tend to be those who can least afford to complain.” (S. 97)
“Some forms of violence, however hard they hit you, do not appear to others. If other people can’t see it, that it happened, you might ask your- self, Did it happen?” (S. 105)
Welcome to the Strange Fruits episode of the Voiced Displeasure. Maybe the least favorite one, but tasty, for sure. Poetic, inevitably. The main protagonist relates to the 3 sections: Juice, danger, and joy; Systems, sugar, skin, and stain; The land of rightness, emptiness, and gray color. Next time instead of the external keyboard, you might bring the fork.Have you ever heard a fruit talking? Did you find it uncomfortable? Understandable. No judgments. This is a safe space. Let´s bite.
JUICE, DANGER, AND JOY
”I am a little parasite stuck on your ceiling, watching and waiting for the right moment to grab your face. I am an angry skeleton under the thousand layers of this skin blanket. I want to get out of my colonized past.
I am the one you want to squeeze. My lemonish, bitter body is hanging on the walls of your borders. Experience the haptic touch of this nectarous object – me. Me, the stranger. You – domestic. Me – the dirt on Your floor. You – the boundary. My amorph shape stands out from the crowd, breaks the concrete, entering the void.I produce joy. Try me. I am a violent inhabitant trying to break your comfort. I am the stain spot of this system.
These little hands were holding the poles in the foreign trains and buses, being observed. My hands are being watched – the way they move, how the fingers fold and dance around the strange objects. I am the sensation. My legs are making the gaps between the foreign feet, stepping into the unknown. Kissing the strange ground, while dropping the strange juice into the dry field. My earlobes are made of sugar, melting in the strange air. My lungs are suffocating from the bizarreness of this place. Its mystifying inner shakes my foreign outer. Its breeze freezes me. I must get out.”
SYSTEMS, SUGER, SKIN, and STAIN
The land of rightness, emptiness, and gray color
Welcome to Saxony, the land that tears the skin of the beast.Welcome to the act of peeling one’s outer. Chemnitz means stones, coming from the language that I can understand, for some reason. Welcome to Chemnitz, friends. Welcome these words that are coming and be free to dive into the experience.
”The strangeness climbs through my spine, from the bottom. Slowly and precisely it covers the whole backside. I feel the structure and heaviness of my skull. My earlobes are collapsing. My head leans towards the shoulders as if it is going to fall. I feel alienated from the outside.
Some parts of my body feel numb. There is a space around my inner skin that I have no contact with. I turn my head to the right I look at one point. My attention stays in the corner of my eye creating the tension of the eye muscle. I can see the small humans inside a human, I sense how they move around me. I see the shadows of these bodies, I feel the coldness piercing my outer strongly through the borders. IAM THE OTHER. The other on many that are the same.
I slowly pull my own inside towards the outside shell. I humbly tore the skin of a creature. I peel the layers of its skin and try to get out. It lasts and feels like forever. I am the stain spot on this map. Pulling. Vibrating. Pushing. I am so alive.”
PS: NEVER EAT THE FRUITS YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN BEFORE.