The Last Howl Final

Selma Banich, The Last Howl

Zaprzyjaźniona z nami chorwacka feministyczna aktywistka i performerka Selma Banich dzieli się z nami swoim autoportretem wyszytym na chusteczce należącej kiedyś do jej babci.

Dear comrades in Poland and beyond,

I share with you my self-portrait embroidered on an old cotton handkerchief that belonged to my grandmother. This simple four-color embroidery embodies a moment of life with depression and a struggle to maintain mental health and spiritual harmony. I dedicate this embroidery to my grandmother Nefisa Muradbegović (married Krstulović), a committed anti-fascist and educator who participated in the Resistance Movement as a young woman, and to her eternal kindness.

A year ago, I experienced a severe case of burnout. I no longer knew how to deal with the stress caused by hatred and violence around me. The bitter feeling of heartache and anxiety was unbearable. My tar-like interior was grieving. In such a state of misery, lasting resilience was no longer possible.

I spent many hours, many sleepless nights in agony, thinking of the suffering that is passed down through generations, of the individual lineage of pain, of the collective traumas. I refused to normalize human suffering for one second longer.

Instead of achieving true social change for all, my resilience was used against me. It was used to normalize cruelty and repression. At the same time, I endangered my health and well-being. In order to embrace fragility, appreciate the complexity of deep feelings and dark moods, and the vulnerability of everything that lives, I had to dismantle the illusion of permanence. I had to heal myself, and re-learn how to take care of self.

All life is fragile. All species and ecosystems suffer. No one is resilient to endless cycles of oppression and exploitation. Everything breaks, and everyone hurts. Goodbye, dear resilience! I dedicate my last howl to you„.

self-portrait, 39 cm x 37 cm, 2022

selma banich (1979, Yugoslavia) is an artist, activist, and community organizer. Her socially engaged art practice is grounded in explorative, processual, and activist work, and is politically inspired by anarchism and feminism. selma has worked independently and in collaboration with other artists, curators, groups, and initiatives in the Balkans, Europe, and the US. She has participated in numerous dance, theater, and opera productions as a choreographer, and has also performed on film. She participates in local and transnational solidarity initiatives related to the ongoing feminist, anti-fascist, migrant, and workers’ struggles. Currently, those initiatives are Zagreb Solidarity City, Transbalkan Solidarity, and For BREAD.