BLOOD

Collage of various chumbox advertisement thumbnails: images of people, skin, and runny eggs.

Feelings at the Edge: A Chumbox Tour

The scene is all too familiar, the gestures rehearsed. It begins with the innocence of casual browsing, the wide-eyed wonder as you click and scroll, traipsing around some mildly interesting news article. Then it leers at you, inevitable and horrible. Chumbox ads upset the assumed comfort that comes with browsing. Pairing disturbing imagery with sensationalist captions, these advertisements lurk below news articles, disrupting the nimbleness and gracefulness of the online. Unsightly images of celebrities and skin—writhing masses of flesh and tissues—known as chum, dot the internet. Targeting the subconscious, chumboxes are an unfiltered expression of misdirection and clickbait—body horror made visually tactile.

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Two people sit at a desk outdoors in front of a gallery, in warm evening summer light. On the left is Anisha, a brownskinned person with long dark hair wearing a pink shirt and skirt and smiling. The other person is Schwarzrund, a Black person with curly black hair, wearing a long black floral dress and talking into a microphone.

A Conversation on Care

‘A Conversation on Care’ was the official name of the talk SchwarzRund and I gave in Summer 2021, as part of COVEN BERLIN’s event “an invitation to sink in to the bog.” Watching it back though, I realise that another title could have been ‘A long overdue catch up between friends who are always keen to work together, could forever talk to each other, but don’t always have the energy to do so.’ Phew. It was a special evening, being IRL with SchwarzRund, as throughout the pandemic we had only seen each other in the virtual world. We had a few rushed informal catch ups behind the scenes – how are your energy levels doing, are you as nervous as me haha – before we sat ourselves down in the instagrammable golden hour light.

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A soft, blurry, circular, geometric pattern of blue and white

Initiation.

This is the story of my arrival to Berlin.

1. The setting. (Separation) t is spring 2019, and I have just moved to Berlin. I am filled with excitement and curiosity to rediscover the city I was born in, but that I haven’t lived in since I was a toddler. I am still able to romanticise the U-bahn and the fact that I sleep in a bare room on a shitty mattress. It suits the coming of age narrative I created in my head. The 30 days I spent here so far have been full of encounters and activities, as if I made it my goal to explore each facet of the city as fast as possible.

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A bird's eye view of where the river Tietê, São Paulo used to be, and is now is dried and filled with cars, appearing to have been abandoned in the middle of a traffic jam. Green trees and bushes grow above many car tops, between concrete walls.

I try to remember and all I can taste is earth.

I am writing this days after the Ahr river flooded in the west of Germany, killing 184 people.* The pictures, a friend says, look photoshopped, as they show me how to move the cursor from right to left, displaying the before and after scenes. All I can think is ‘less green.’ The same friend tells me of the flooding of the Elbe river that happened in 2002, and that it was Eurocentrically named “the flood of the century” (Jahrhundert Flut). After all, most floods of this century have not covered European soil. The broken banks are presented as a governmental failure to predict, re-inforce, and secure. Control measures failed and Germany’s immunity to climate disaster has been torn a little, despite the appearance of success. The holy see it as a message from God, the capitalists call it a time for harder intervention and more capable management, and time travellers say, as with every so-called year, this is the year of the bog.

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