For those who don’t know what chronic illness means: the word “chronic” comes from the Greek “Chronos,” χρόνος, which means “time” (think of “chronology”). In certain contexts, it can mean “a lifetime.” So, a chronic illness is an illness that lasts a lifetime. In other words, it does not get better. There is no cure. And there is the weight of time: yes, that means you feel it every day. On very rare occasions, I get caught in a moment, as if something’s plucked me out of the world, where realize that I haven’t thought about my illnesses for a few minutes, maybe a few precious hours. These moments of oblivion are the closest thing to a miracle that I know. When you have chronic illness, life is reduced to a relentless rationing of energy.
From: Sick Woman Theory
How can disease change a form or genre? How do you find language for symptoms and conditions? And what language are you opposed to? Where do you get time when you’ve fallen off the hamster wheel? Who or what structures benefit from the division of people into sick and non-sick? How do you throw a brick through a couch window if you can’t get out of bed?
In Sick Woman Theory (2016), artist and author Johanna Hedva investigates how you can make yourself politically visible if you are chronically ill. In 2023, the Dutch translation of this essay, Theorie van de Zieke Vrouw, was published by Choas Publishers, in which Hedva’s words are accompanied by an exchange of letters between poets Asha Karami (Godface) and Pelumi Adejumo (Soms voel ik mij zombie). They share dreams, experiences with illness and care, and investigate their relationship to Hedva’s image of the Sick Woman.
Inspired by the influential essay Sick Woman Theory, Perdu invites poets, artists and performers to make an artistic contribution about illness in relation to time and language. There will also be a unique opportunity to talk to Hedva (via Zoom) about this work and their current thoughts. This conversation is led by Thalia Ostendorf who also translated the essay.
What is so destructive about this conception of wellness as the default, as the standard mode of existence, is that it invents illness as temporary. When being sick is an abhorrence to the norm, it allows us to conceive of care and support in the same way. Care and support, in this configuration, are only required sometimes. When sickness is temporary, care and support are not normal.
From: Sick Woman Theory
Doors open: 19:30
Start program: 20:00
Prices: Standard: €10,50, CJP/student/Stadspas: €8
English and Dutch program
This program will be offered bilingually as much as possible with projected translations. The reading by Iarlaith Ni Fheorais and the conversation at the end with Johanna Hedva will be in English.
This program is made possible in part by support from the Justine Borkes Foundation.
Iarlaith Ni Fheorais is a curator and writer currently the curator of TULCA Festival of Visual Arts 2023 and an Independent Producer with field:arts. As a writer she has written on the work of Jesse Darling, Manuel Solano and Lorenza Böttner for Frieze, Burlington Contemporary, Viscose Journal and has an art and access column with Visual Arts News Sheet. She regularly contributes to public programmes and lectures including at Somerset House, Arts and Disability Ireland and Goldsmiths University. Committed to improving access in the arts, she is currently developing an Arts Council England funded access toolkit for curators and producers. She is currently studying at the Dutch Art Institute.
Nadh Lingyun Cao’s performative practice explores myth, magic, spirituality and healing. Their curiosity for the vastness of space is the impetus in the making, often feeling the volume of their work is guided by some mysterious forces, unconscious for the cerebral. Their performance is influenced by Buddhist and Taoist philosophy, such as the concept of impermanence, the practice of non-self, non-attachment, wu wei, zi ran and qi. Nadh originally comes from China, and currently lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. They received BFA degrees from Gerrit Rietveld Academy and Shanghai Theatre Academy.
Femke Zwiep (1999) graduated from Creative Writing ArtEZ in 2021 with the poetry collection Elke dag is lang en prachtig (translation: Every day is long and beautiful). In 2022 she took part in the poetry tour Vers van het Mes organized by deBuren and Perdu. Her work has appeared at DW B and Wobby.club, among others. She is an editor at Samplekanon and is currently working on her debut collection.
Thalia Ostendorf is a postdoc at the University of Amsterdam. She writes essays and short stories and translates English-Dutch. She is one of the translators of Honorée Fanonne Jeffers’ The Love Songs of W.E.B Du Bois (2023) and is one of the founders of Uitgeverij Chaos.
Pelumi Adejumo is a runaway pastor’s child, writer and singer who lives in the Netherlands. She wrote Soms ik voel mij zombie (translation: Sometimes I feel like zombie) and she contributed artistic or literary work to nY, de Gids, the National Theater, deBuren and the Dutch National Opera & Ballet, among others.
Asha Karami writes poetry, plays and essays and makes poetry films in collaboration with Johan van Dijke. She debuted with the poetry collection Godface (2019), which was nominated for the Herman de Coninck Prize, the Grote Poëzie Prize and the E. du Perron Prize. Besides writing, she works as a youth health physician.