Works for the Ararat Collective’s Webzine Issue 1.
Sept ‘20 - Feb ‘21
Project supported by Asylum Arts

with Wanda Gała
model trained on 14445 images

with music by Wiktor Podgórski

Studio Notes:

When a catastrophe happens, we tend to use language that points to its uniqueness–once in a century natural disaster, or the novel coronavirus–but these events seem to come in cycles. I was born when Poland was on the brink of Martial Law. I saw the end of the communist regime in Central Europe; and then, in New York, I lived through 9/11, an economic collapse in 2008, and now the pandemic that forced me to relocate to Berlin. Flying out of JFK in September of 2020, with my Covid test in hand, I recalled the time I made the trip the other way–with my HIV test in hand–as a negative test was a requirement at the time to receive a green card.* 

Working on the pieces shared here (Sept 20-Feb 21), I thought about the cyclicality of doom and re-birth**. For me, the pandemic, among other things, highlighted the tension that we*** feel now between the interconnectedness of our bodies (after all, we are stuck at home because the virus so easily travels between bodies) and the disembodiment we experience through our engagement with technologies ostensibly designed to connect us. These reflections intertwine with my long standing interest in fantasies of an engineered body.

While we are yearning for the time we can hug our friends hello, for our bodies to be returned to their communal (if urban) habitat, the pandemic is ushering us into a world so much more receptive–at a global scale, to an engineered body. Molecular vaccines, re-programmable skin along with the prospect of conscious artificial neural networks are no longer uncanny. We embrace this promise of a new alliance between the body and technology. Framed as augmentative technologies, for some, they are harbingers of a post-body (yet still, somehow, human-centric) landscape. For me, they echo some of our oldest conversations. How to survive? In what ways are we not just intersections but also spectrums? What if it is too late to transcend the damage of linear time?

These works, unlike my previous projects, have come to me before language, thus, as my friend, Noa Charuvi pointed out, it is intuitions that I offer here. And I hope they will illuminate further investigations into potentials of all that is unruly, errored, and soft.

Please note that “NEXT” is a collaboration with Wanda Gała, a choreographer and a fellow Polish-American hybrid. For us, a hybrid is not a mixture of differences, but the whole that these differences make. The hybrid we created–a creature that emerged from two womens' bodies, is a meditation on waiting and anticipation, as well as a talismanic offering to our future selves. And, as this creature lives in a digital space defined through adversarial relationships, it is also meant, like all talismans, to give direction to our weapons.

                -Tusia Dabrowska

* Dr. Todd Sekuler, an expert in public health, kindly pointed me to a number of online discussions that offer a similar insight (Twitter) into the problematic history of the West's attempts at the border control of viruses.
** A phrase I borrowed from Adam Wight.
*** Especially those of us raised in the Western system of thought, which so pervasively and perversely insists on individuality.
**** I would like to thank Maciej Czeredys for his continuous support and insightful feedback.

Ararat Collective
Wanda Gała
Wiktor Podgórski
Mariah Rigg

And thank you, Rachel Stevens and Paige Sweet, for a trip to Rockaway Beach and help with Glitch #6. Also, thank you, Eyal Ron Meisel, for costume support on 1WP.