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Care in the Times of Corona Capitalism

  • May 14 2020
  • Mikala Hyldig Dal
    Mikala Hyldig Dal is an artist, curator and author based in Berlin, Cairo and The Hague. She examines visual cultures through video- and text-based interventions. Many of her works are installations, but also performance, drawing and painting are among her artistic practices. The artist is represented in international exhibitions, e.g. in Martin Gropius Bau Berlin, Cairo Townhouse Gallery, Nikolaj Kunsthal Copenhagen, Fluxfactory New York and Azad Gallery Tehran. Dal is interested in the connections between image production and the destruction of images (iconoclasm), processes of visualization and invisibility, structures of power in the field of the visual. In the words of philosopher Jacques Rancière: Mikala deconstructs "aesthetic regimes" with her artistic works, her curatorial projects and theoretical reflections."
    - Introduction by Prof. Dr. Linda Hentschel, Institute for Art and Visual History (IKB), Humboldt University Berlin
    (translated from German)


I write to you because there are cracks in our space. I write to you because I am full of hope to mend these cracks. I write to you because otherwise the words will get stuck in my throat, they will decompose there and clog my breathing, they will make my speech smelly. 

Postcards of Thyme, Tewes-McCoy, 2020

I am grabbing the top leaves of something that looks like a vegetable, a beetroot perhaps, but it might turn out to be a fruit once elevated from its dirt-embrace.

There. It’s in my hand.
Inscribed in its sore and uneven surface I read:

“Why did love letters fall out of fashion?” 

When did love letters mutate into short and bitter text messages decapitating our love affairs in their infancy? There are longer ones, Email ones, but mostly I have found them blameful, unreconcilable and strangely bureaucratic, listing errors and incompetencies, lacking the Shakespearian charm a lover’s complaint (1) can have. Mostly they position the writer at one extreme of the spectrum of wrongs&rights and the receiver at the other, as Shakespeare’s fair maid does too, but without her attention to form and the care that is present in this (2).

Is it yet another brutal effect of late capitalist societies that love letters have been indefinitely shortened, or exist only as kitschy echoes in shared links to one-sized pop songs, while business Emails and logistical communication are flooding our electronic Dasein – is turning our Dasein itself electronic and screen-based. How much time did you (3) spend on E-communication aimed at optimizing the infrastructural flow of your institution and rendering to the institution invisible the state of emergency COVID-19 has suspended all of our bodies in? In the same period, how much time did you spend meandering, extending and communicating, fertilizing and growing the love you feel for and share with those closest to you? Were the proportions notably different before the virus broke out? What is it that tells us that to focus on love rather than business is untimely, naïve and anachronistic? The same thing that makes many of us feel that our loved ones – our children in particular, those most in need of our love and our unconditionality – are in the way in times of quarantine?

Postcards of Thyme, Tewes-McCoy, 2020

What is it they are in the way of? 10+ hours daily spent in front of screens engaging in pseudo encounters on the inside of institutional entrails or being unwrapped by platform capitalists disguised as fury cats that plan towards immortality for the few and dispensability for the many? 

The internet-repair-guy was just here, to hook me into my new access; since moving in in March I have been co-surfing the neighbor’s net. After he left I find myself washing my hands for no reason. We never remotely touched and stayed well within security refines. He was charming and cautiously flirtatious, despite my obvious pregnancy. Or because of it? There are fetishists for this current state of my body too. What do they do once their lovers deliver? Impregnate again swiftly? Endorse upon the discharged body an ectoplasmic ever-pregnant one?
I am pulling in the green lounges of yet another vegetable-like growth, that might turn out to be more flowery than savory once it enters open space. 

In its folds and fractures I read:

“When will parenting become communal?”

Was our last meeting a fight? Perhaps at least, it was a struggle. I got pregnant before we got together. The bio-father swiftly chose to be no father at all. Our common acquaintances are appalled by the fact that this did not make me opt for an abortion. I am stunned and, with an eye to history, mildly amused to live in a time where birthing a child sparks more offense than aborting it. I am petrified to still live in a time where the Existenzberechtigung of a pregnancy is dependent on a male’s willingness to accept fatherhood. This swelling belly of mine is not a plan or a project; it is life happening, shaping itself along patterns immense and intricate, mostly invisible, hardly ever tactile. It cannot be undone; it cannot be edited retrospectively to fit a simpler mold.

Postcards of Thyme, Tewes-McCoy, 2020

Can your love for me encompass the child that I carry, the child whose existence is no longer separable from mine? Would your answer be different if the same blood would run through your veins? Tell me why, but tell me in a form that is so immersively yours, that it may become ours to share; tell me in words from the other side of institutional jargon; tell me in words that farm a garden of their own. 

Whatever grows from that patch of yours I will accept it, as it is, as a shared space.

I am with the Invisible Committee (5): It is as dirty a trick of capitalist logic to make us think of poetry as bourgeoise, as it is to rewrap itself in the guise of sharing-economies; instead poetic emancipation and our profound commitment to sharing and maintaining experiences of love might be the one force more likely to burst our shackles than any other.


"Care in Times of Corona Capitalism" was published in print issue 11, "Faux Culture".

Images for online version by Joshua Tewes-McCoy

    1. (with explanatory notes for 21st century speakers here:

    2. (Needless(?) to say the writer mostly places her/himself at the point closest to doing, being, right, while positioning her (no longer? Or only in spite) beloved at the other end (But if we enter this space, the space of our love, our fusion, together; do we not co-create the positions(?) of one another? Does it even make sense to speak of opposites in this case? If our relation is organic rather than deterministic why force a rigid framework of reading onto it?))

    3. The universal "You", but also the specific you that you are.

    4. Lizzie O’Shea: Future Histories; Jaron Lanier: Who Owns the Future?; Yuval Noah Harari: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century; Jean Baudrillard: Symbolic Exchange and Death.

    5. The invisible Committee: Now
    Your favorite paragraph:
    „Love does not bring individuals into relation, it cuts through them as if they were suddenly on a special plane where they were making their way together amid a certain foliation of the world. To love is never to be together but to become together. If loving did not undo the fictitious unity of being, the “other” would not be capable of making us suffer to such a degree. If, in love, a piece of the other did not end up being a part of us, we wouldn’t have to mourn it when separation time rolled around. If there were nothing but relations, nobody would understand one another. Everything would be awash with misunderstanding. So there is no subject or object of love, there is an experience of love.“
    And mine:
    “If communism has a goal, it is the great health of forms of life. This great health is obtained through a patient re-articulation of the disjoined members of our being, in touch with life. One can live a whole life without experiencing anything, by being very careful not to think and feel. Existence is then reduced to a slow process of degradation. It wears down and ruins, instead of giving form. After the miracle of the encounter, relations can only go from wound to wound towards their consumption. Life, on the contrary, gradually gives form to whoever refuses to live beside themselves, to whoever allows themselves to experience. They become a form of life in the full sense of the term.”



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