A Thousand Cuts (2023)

A pair of vicious machines named Cutter and Curser that embody the violence of anti-transgender legislation, and that call on the audience to take part in a cathartic ritual of retaliation & solidarity.

They allude to the cruel mechanisms of incision & impalement of the execution apparatus in Franz Kafka's 1919 story “In the Penal Colony”.

The first machine, Cutter, methodically cuts harsh phrases stating the true intentions of the bills into paper, over and over. (For example, "WE WILL TAKE YOUR BODY FROM YOU" represents the bans on gender-affirming healthcare.)

It’s surrounded by its works: incised lists of all 500-plus bills introduced in the U.S. this year, printed over a fragment of a photo of a gender non-conforming person.

This photo comes from the archives of the Institute for Sexual Science, the first gender and sexuality research institute in the world. It was destroyed by a Nazi student organization in 1933 and its library burned in the street.

The second machine, Curser, calls for vengeance.

A death mask-like face and two outstretched hands await. When someone touches its fingertips with theirs, the face spits out a curse on a transphobic legislator. The visitor is invited to read it aloud, then impale it on a spike embedded in the left hand, in a cathartic act of violence.

Curses are printed in order, beginning with the person who sponsored the most laws. Each printout reads:

As of [date], [Legislator Name] of [State] introduced [#] transphobic laws

I invite you to read this curse aloud

A curse upon you, [Full Name].
A curse upon your allies, and upon all who turn their faces from your works and close their eyes to your deeds.
May we live untouched by the harm you seek to visit upon us.
May we flourish as you wither.
May we grow and change as your ways of life are forgotten and ground into dust by our dancing.
May future generations look on you with disgust.
May your name be scorned until it's forgotten.
May you become powerless.

When you have finished, impale this paper



Python for data and interaction, Raspberry Pi with capacitive touch sensor and thermal printer, Adobe InDesign and Photoshop, Inkscape, casting, sculpting.