Simona Dumitriu and Ramona Dima / Malmö, Sweden
Simona&Ramona (aka Claude&Dersch) are life and work partners since 2014. They share an interest in expressing personal experience and queer archival affects through writing, and in working to unearth queer women*’s histories in Romania and in Eastern Europe. While they are mainly active in research, queer cultural history, art theory and curating, Simona&Ramona tend to use their artistic side practice to express in a lo-fi manner their own struggles from an autoethnographical perspective that is simultaneously poetic and humorous. In 2018, after relocating to Sweden with their famous cat, Sira, they started to taste the life in between – countries, languages, living arrangements, work conditions, pandemic situations.
For the Schloss Solitude Web Residency, Simona&Ramona are creating "A zero hours worker’s fate", a digital story that focuses on a social reality in Sweden affecting migrants and new comers in a disproportionate amount: zero-hour employment, an extremely fragile form of (almost non-) employment that exists in all possible branches, from schools to hospitals, old people’s homes, museums, restaurants or shops. Using divination, the idea of fate and Sara Ahmed’s concept of willful subjects, Claude&Dersch–Simona&Ramona’s drag personas – are looking into what the future may have brought for them and their own lives. From this, they also anchor their own experiences in local work legislation on the subject, and within the need to organise and unionise in the workplace in order to not face “the system” alone and end up eaten by it. If their story is not one that ends on a particularly happy note, what they hope to achieve with this project is to push for awareness, as much as possible, and to fight back against the entropy of thousands upon thousands of similarly fragile situations happening everywhere, all the time, dwelling in silence and fear.
Today I spoke a lot about language + and spoke so much language. When exactly does language become punishment?
Punished by Swedish. A trigger word, a catchy title in capital letters. Imagine it in capital letters on top of a restaurant when you walk by the edge of the road stepping on the tips of stones.
I learned Swedish out of fear. Not real fear - of a bear charging toward us from ten meters away, not fear for my life in front of disasters, wars or calamities. But that moderate fear that comes from daily interactions: fear to not have a job, to lose your job, to be seen as less, different, not there yet, by people you do not necessarily look up to. An intellectual fear, surely.
I am courageous by nature. I am self taught. I speak back. In order to speak back one needs dissonant language.
One needs the language of the courts, of legislation, of the appeal, of the higher instance, of the Human Resources boss man, of polyhedral persuasion. Heavy language. Do you even know it in your mother tongue?
Punished by Swedish. Each misunderstanding, a volt. Each volt, an electrical whip. I am willingly approaching each new source of pain knowing that it will whiplash, spread needles, get into my eyes and make the back of my skull resonate with any of the random words that were mistaken, the grace of my demeanour lost. I cower in front of anybody for a while.
You are not like that. You are valiant and juggle all your pots and pans in perfect harmony. Let’s paint the toxic wasteland you walk into: mice infested bread, pretensions, a friendly smile, an United Nations of highly educated outsiders trading their masters and majors for the smell of rank dishes. Geysers from the washing machine that eats up too much energy to clean and may bite your hand off. Endlessly washing and reusing the shells of snails to be served later to the endless parade of underworked overpaid heads bobbing to the back and forth of spicy slurps.
You are valiant. You are reckless. You break your ankle but need the money so you go to work with a leg that will never heal properly. You work with fever. With all the pains. I work with fever. With all the pains. I do not once utter for a break. I work in fear of losing you, work. I am courageous by nature. But I do not speak back. I hide in my fear. In the end, the result is the same. We both get marred by the pandemic. Or so they say.
Oh, virus! How often have you been invoked by humans to retrieve and pardon their misguided decisions, their choices, their executive cuts. Oh, droplets of saliva, may you never again be invoked by those who excuse by you their decisions to erase and reduce, waste and annihilate their fellow humans.
I received the notice that I will not be getting any more work during the pandemic at the end of a long, random email titled Happy Easter.
You received yours in the employees portal and had to click and confirm it in order to be able to punch in for that day, soon to be your last.
We found ourselves on the side of the road. A bear growling in the distance. Night falling with a shrouded moon. A soft cat purring, crumpled between us.
Join in. Our story, your story, begins.