With our last strength, although it is only the beginning of the year, we are preparing an issue about the work of care, which in the field of art, as in any other, is low-paid, invisible and absolutely necessary – we get sick from a deficit of care. After several months of bushfires in Australia, the east coast of the country is hit by heavy rainfall on a scale not seen for years.
With our last strength, because we do much more than an eight-hour day’s work can fit, for much less than we should get. Poland is still the infamous leader of European air pollution rankings.
We submit an issue about sickness at the time when one-third of the three-person gallery’s editorial team is on sick leave with a diagnosis: overwork, and when a colleague from the one-person education department undergoes chemotherapy. Aromatic amines and azo dyes – constitute about 70% of all dyes used in the food and textile industry contribute to the development of neoplastic lesions in the liver, biliary tract and urinary bladder.
Working in culture is a privilege and a duty provided to the society, therefore nobody complains — the number of posts is limited. No one complains while working unlimited hours and earning just over two thousand zloty… although, in fact, nobody knows how much someone else earns, since asking about that might violate personal rights, probably there is also nothing to brag about. Admitting to precariousness results in a decrease in symbolic value, and this is what we count on while paying off debts incurred on the account of the future. Excessive exploitation of deep-sea waters will lead to increasing water supply problems and ultimately to the depletion of our resources.
Thus, we are preparing a number about sickness dreaming of a sick leave, so that we can finally work in peace (can’t we even afford decent dreams?). What is the right treatment for throat-clogging climate changes?
The eighth, sickness issue of RTV Magazine, which, when read in fragments, might be quite funny, was prepared by the team: Inga Zimprich, Jacek Zwierzyński and Zofia nierodzińska, because we share a common experience of working in culture, although acquired in different contexts, and seeing the relationship between sick, precarious bodies and the exploitation of earthly resources.
In the texts and materials selected for the 8th issue of the RTV Magazine, Inga Zimprich, a member of Berlin’s Feminist Health Care Research Group, looks at care practices as an integral part of artistic production. While the topics related to it, especially those talking about invisible, feminized and racialised care work, have already become a fully-fledged part of the official artistic discourse, many of us still feel disappointed about how often care for emotional and physical well-being is neglected in the field of culture. Many of us are also sadly aware of how much resistance we encounter when we begin to demand greater accessibility to cultural institutions and to the events they organize. Another problem is overproduction, whether in the circulation of leaflets, the amount of energy consumed, or the changing set design of exhibitions. Therefore, we have decided that the materials selected for RTV Magazine will concern the ableist and non-ecological nature of artistic production and the related competitiveness and compulsiveness. In this context, the needs for care and support seem to be an exclusive surplus, and for this reason, they are usually suppressed.
How can artists with autoimmune diseases, chronic diseases, disabilities, or those in need of support meet systemic requirements? How do they face the production pressure of the art world? How should we create more accessible spaces, ones in which it becomes possible to practice care, and how does this widening of access affect the individual attitudes of artists, curators, and cultural workers?
Katarzyna Czarnota in the text “On reclaiming the autonomy. Collectivising medical care” sees the communal spaces of concern in the independent, grassroots clinics emerging in response to the economic crisis and the collapse of the state system in Greece. In nine meditative affirmations the artist and author of “Metabolize, if Able,” Clay AD, invites you to challenge scenarios of health care and body politics through imaginative exercises. Fran Breden, curator, and member of COVEN Berlin collective, describes her engagement and experiences with the Berlin-based support group Sickness Affinity, that holds open bi-monthly meetings to challenge the competition-driven logic of artistic production. Taraneh Fazeli, a curator of “Sick Time, Sleepy Time, Crip Time: Against Capitalism’s Temporal Bullying” speaks about their involvement with Canaries – a support group of art adjacent cultural workers with auto-immune diseases based in the US.
In the Art Channel, Adelina Cimochowicz presents a video in which she confronts the insecurity of being a young, certified artist without systemic support and stabilizing savings, for whom the irregularity of income causes nausea. Paweł Żukowski, in his series of monotypes “Waiting for a diagnosis”, shows shame and fear related to the disease. He tames his bad mood with drawing. He draws to survive. Members of the Feminist Health Care Research Group contribute collages from their research materials on the historic feminist health movement of West-Berlin.
In the Interviews tab, we can read a conversation with an activist and party worker Sister Mary Read, known by her secular name as Paweł Ziemba, about the history and activity of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and about HIV prevention in Poland. We also publish excerpts from a conversation about HIV, AIDS, and Poland between Szymon Adamczak, Luiza Kempińska, and Hubert Zięba, which appeared in the 42nd issue of the OnCurating journal edited by Theodore Kerr.
Finally, we would like to apologize to the readers for the thematic, sickly lack of enthusiasm, but admitting tiredness in a perpetual motion of the art world is to us a gesture of emancipation, embracing also our personal desires.