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”.
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.
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.
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”?
Today I got sick again. I embraced my state as something that inevitably had to happen. I was waiting for it. My body gets infected every time I drain it with my enthusiastic behavior. Once in a while, it gets infected with different bacteria, viruses, and sometimes serious sickness that lasts for weeks. It always manifests as a fever that no Paracetamol in the world can solve, sharp pain in the kidneys or low back, and a sort of sadness.
I am very tired.
Today I sobbed after experiencing the drought syndrome I have been fighting for months. The long-awaited cry was performed on my kitchen floor while cutting the leaves of my grandma’s tea and sorting it out in the small jars. I gave the names after their purpose. For instance, the ”Kantarion Diary” killed the viruses in my body many times. I drink two extremely hot cups that almost burnt and melted my fingers. The pain felt very good. I enjoyed my fingertips embracing the heat while igniting the whole body.
And then I sang.
I sang so loud while screaming the words deep down from my stomach, the words that neither mean something nor actually exist. Sounds are being transmitted through my tight skin, through my body floating on the fever for the 10th hour today. It felt like I am flying on my kitchen table with the small tea forest surrounding me, barefoot, weak, and lost. It was my own crying stage that stopped right on time before somebody visited my world. Confused and scared, the visitor offered help. I rejected and proudly said: ”Today, I finally cried”.
the professional crying researcher
Read it again, and then again. A never ending cirkel.
Hello, you have called Complaint! hotline’s answering machine.
We have run out of answers and all operators are currently busy.
But feel free to leave your message after a short signal.
Rely on artificial
No one will stop you
Don’t laugh, don’t cry
And don’t drop the handset
If you want to speak
Press the key number one
If you use uncensored vocabulary
Key number two
If you just want to shut up
Press number three
Your pain will be recorded
For quality improvement purposes
Dear mister president P !
Please be so kind and stop killing innocent people so we can keep fighting for basic
leftist tree-hugging feminist bit*h
P.S. Please die.
In Eastern Europe, people don’t usually complain. Officially.
It means that you are a traitor. Or could be betrayed. You can always resign though.
Resign from your identity. Resign from your home. Your tribe, your status, your life.
Because you show THEM where it hurts. Your vulnerability is your biggest enemy. If you are
taking away someones’ status you might succeed. But THEY will erase you… right after your
complaint will be filed into the void.
And you will be very, very tired.
Shadow of our ancestors’ generation trauma. Post-soviet toxic patriarchy.
THEY are not even pretending to care.
“если ударил, то люби” *
*If they hit you, they love you