Writing & Artwork by Viola Arduini
From close enough, bodies are chimeric. I am made
of membranes that can be crossed
of collectiveness of lives lived together
of viruses that are not consider alive yet impact as
macroscopic giants stepping through the planet.
Viruses are the ordered outcome of chaos, someone
once told me.
As influenza viruses pass
from birds to pigs to horses to birds to bats to pigs to bats to horses to human:
The cellular membrane is where I dream to be a bird.
A virus connects, dwelling in bodies of different species.
Am I a community if we share inhabitants?
There is comfort and danger in sameness.
I am made of the memories of who came before me.
I am made of past & future contaminations.
How many of my ancestors were microbes?
How many of them contributed to the stories my genes narrate?
How many of my great grandmothers were birds?
She died in 1920 of childbirth, my grandfather.
She died in 1920 of childbirth and Spanish Flu complications.
She is in a mass grave of 1918 influenza victims.
She is forgotten: I don’t know her name, or her face.
I require chimeric ancestry.
The submitted works are part of my ongoing, long-term project Chimera Manifesto, an expanding work that pivots between scientific data, fabulative imagining, and poetic writing. Ideas of hybridization become invites to rethink and connect with the more-than-human. The chimera, a mythological body that puts together different parts of diverse species, allows for new hybrids, intersections, and contacts. The chimera is a metamorphic being dreaming of violence and kinship.
Untitled (hummingbirds) is a digital collage made of scans of hummingbird specimens. Hummingbirds often resist categorization through hybridization: they are metamorphic in escaping human efforts and needs for species and separation.
Bisnonna is a series of 80 slides I created mixing found portrait of an unknown woman with feathers, in a shapeshifting sequence that wonders “how many of my great grandmothers were birds?” The accompanying poem, also included in my submission, is part of the Manifesto. I am now in the process of translating it in Italian, my mother tongue, a coming back to my body and my story, yet a process that feels deep, imperfect, and open.
Viola Arduini (b.1987, Italy) Viola Arduini is an Italian artist and educator currently based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In her work, she investigates the relationships formed by humans, nature, and technology. Her interdisciplinary work encompasses photography, poetry, installation, and sound, creating connections with biology and mythology.