Tabita Rezaire is an artist, healer, health-tech-politics practitioner and kemetic and kundalini yoga teacher, based in Cayenne, French Guyana. I have recently had a chance to talk to Tabita about her cross-dimensional practices, about togetherness, healing and a genuine sense of connectedness, about her vision of life, art and digital technologies in connection with the current historical moment.
Anna Gorchakovskaya: One thing that becomes clear the moment one sees your works for the first time is the incredible variety of ideas, theories and practices that inform your research. In your works you engage with such areas as African cosmologies, ecology, digital technologies, spiritual practices, explore the history and re-define the meaning of phenomena, combine styles, media, elements of high and popular culture. Your works present spaces, entire new worlds (imageries) both online and in physical places. Could you tell us a little bit about some of the ideas/thoughts/approaches/people that have been fundamental for the development of your practice?
Tabita Rezaire: I’m a seeker, forever seeking.
My work started as a way to process the load of social injustices, in our micro and macro spheres. Why was it so painful to be alive?
Trauma. Historical trauma. Generational trauma. Environmental trauma. Both my parents are therapists so I grew up hearing the term but to realize it’s a major feature of our collective socialization was critical. We are loyal to our ancestral pain; so we reproduce it to relive it. Because we are entangled with our past, we need to acknowledge the ancestral realm to do the work of social justice. Social justice is a spiritual practice.
One fundamental reason why we breed injustice is our sense of separation from each other, our lineages, our histories, our environments, and ourselves. How do we walk towards connection? Through healing. There are infinite ways to perceive healing but
the understanding of vibration – scientifically and spiritually – was central in my healing journey.
Vibration is where we unite. Where we are all the same. Pure energy. An ensemble of waves (or particles) spreading in all directions and expressing itself in infinite undulations and forms. That’s who and what we are. All of us. And by modifying the patterns and frequency of these vibrations that compose our world, we can affect it directly. It starts with us.
Healing for social transformation.
How to overcome the pull of polarity: me against the world.
In community lies a potential for communion. Even in a community of two, that is why friendships or romantic partnerships are sought after, because we are all longing to belong to something greater than ourselves. Yet communities often become the stage of many dramas. Why is there no communion within communities? I’m still seeking.
What about communing with the land? With our ancestors? With all expression of life, and beyond, from minerals to plants, and elemental forces like water, fire, and air… My wish is to expand my reach and my capacity to hold all in community.
From me, to we, to Thee.
Seeking the experience of union
Ultimately that’s all my what my work, life, being are devoted to.
Anna Gorchakovskaya: Self-representation is a very powerful tool when it comes to the exploration of identity, freedom and energy. Would it be right to say that self-representation, working on building multiple selves, is an important part of your process?
Tabita Rezaire: Not really, although I see how one would assume this looking at my work. I’m not really interested in representation, although I know how meaningful and important it can be. Through my work I was seeking for who I was. Where do ‘I’ start and end? This quest took me on a journey through identity politics, where it was really important for me to retrieve these parts of myself beyond shame and conditioning. Yet somehow, the more I connected and held to these identities, the more I was separating from those who didn’t share these identities. As someone seeking connection, this created tension. In parallel I was engaged in spiritual processes, which gave me an understanding (and experience) of self beyond my physical body. If I am not my body, why do I identify so much with it? It does matter politically and socially but spiritually – as in existentially- my reality is so much vaster than all finite realities. Eventually I found myself to be an expression of the formless through form, but this form is just a tool to experience the formless.
So finally to answer you, I’ve never been building multiple selves, but welcoming all parts of myself in order to dissolve them, and let my Self shine through. It’s still an ongoing process.
Anna Gorchakovskaya: (Dis)connection is a recurrent topic in many of your works. We are currently finding ourselves in a situation of overconnectedness, at least from a certain point of you. The lives of many people are inextricably tied to the online dimension, a situation that gives us a sense of connection, but risks causing a sort of a digital bulimia. In one of your interviews you once said: “The Internet makes us feel like shit”. How does the current situation make you feel? Does it affect your practice? What are for you the possible ways of re-defining our (dis)connected ways of living?
Tabita Rezaire: Ahahah. I still feel this way although probably this period would have been even more challenging without Internet. I’m very grateful for this technology, for the potential it has to build and sustain communities, yet I see the danger and the inequalities it creates. In times of social distancing, fast speed, unlimited internet, cyber literacy, device access, are even more so factors of exclusion. I’m very privileged in that regards, I was already working from home, and online, so it wasn’t hard to adjust. Yet we all see the limits of it today; we can’t thrive off zoom calls. In order to experience deep connection, we need intimacy. To build intimacy we need vulnerability. The courage to be vulnerable demands safety. The only way to be real is to feel safe. Do you feel safe online? I don’t.
Anna Gorchakovskaya: I would say that the decolonization of every possible area of human activity is at the center of your works. It’s a kind of a lens that could help us “unlearn” the world. You often talk about the decolonization of communication and technology? What does that mean for you? How do you achieve it through artistic practice?
Tabita Rezaire: I don’t think I achieve anything; my artistic practice is only a reflection of my inner processes and growth. It’s also a ‘pretext’ for the seeking. The path of unlearning is a never-ending one; we can always refine our awareness and peel more layers of conditioning. The more conscious we become, the more access we have to our limiting patterns.
How do we connect? Decolonizing our information and communication technologies (ICT), meant for me, first, to understand the tools and networks we use and how they are entangled in violent ecological, political, social systems of extraction and exploitation. Second, to realize the alarming impact on our collective physical, psychological and emotional well-being. Third, to acknowledge our complicity and seek alternatives. We have other tools! That’s how I came to spiritual technologies – tapping into ancestral or plant networks. We may not even need any tools, such as with telepathy. The tool alone doesn’t determine the quality of our connection; we need to develop sensitivity to deepen our ability to reach.
Why do we connect? To troll and hate on each other on social media? Is that worth all the extractions and exploitation? The quality of our relationships is fundamental for our lives. Our human relationships are vital but our relationship to the earth, the food that we eat, the water that we drink, the air we breath, the wombs we give birth through, the ancestors we come from, are as important for our well-being. The colonial model and the inherited hierarchies still ruling our value systems, place human lives (well not even all humans) as the center of existence. While we are insignificant in this universe, one life form out of billions, all co-dependent on each other. As Audre Lord beautifully said: ‘No One is Free Until We Are All Free’, I don’t know if her statement included all flowers, rocks, insects, parasites, water streams, planets and meteorites but all life deserve the same reverence. We need each other. We thrive together.
One of the more powerful shift in my that journey into decolonizing ICT, has been to move from connecting with to connecting as. Greeting the earth as a piece of the earth myself, thanking the water as the body of water that I am, honoring my ancestors as an ancestor of the future, practicing compassion with others as if they are a part of myself. Seeing myself in all. Seeing all within me. Connecting outwards as if reaching into the depth and width of my being.
To connect beyond the illusion of separation.
That’s tooooooo deeeeeeep and so very hard.
Anna Gorchakovskaya: Many of your projects, such as SENEB, are dedicated to healing as a practice. Do you think healing is what can help us go towards togetherness and a real sense of connection?
Tabita Rezaire: Absolutely. It’s the only way. It’s also a gradual process. There is no such thing as now I’m healed let me finally have meaningful relationships! In every stages of our growth, from the densest to the subtler, we experience moments of profound connection! The only thing is that it generally doesn’t last! We see this pattern in both our intimate and global dynamics. What started as community, solidarity or love turns bitter and gives way to betrayal, harm, war, and hurtful resentment. We are all familiar with life’s endless play. That is because most of us compulsively get pulled into fear, distrust, and greed, which feed our states of personal and collective woundedness (currently responsible for a society that uphold domination, oppression, and exploitation). Our wounds create walls around ourselves to supposedly protect us from being hurt again, yet this disables our capacity to truly and deeply connect because we are frightened of being seen, of revealing ourselves fully. So we hide, some may not even know that they are hiding. We’re all constantly running away from the reality of who we are. From these places only superficial connections can be experienced, so we feel even lonelier and this reinforces the feeling of unworthiness. As this is too painful to feel, we become angry at the world and create more walls. How can we build sincere togetherness from there?
The healing journey is about creating a distance between ourselves and our wounded selves; to not confound the two. When we connect from our wounded selves, we are doomed to harm each other as our capacity for compassion is limited there. The whole spiritual journey is to lift the walls that separate us from each other, the earth and the universe and merge with everything that is. That is ultimate healing, that is union.
Anna Gorchakovskaya: Often, but not necessarily, works that explore technology as a reality, concentrate on the critical aspects of the “here and now”. Using the title of a book by Halberstam, would you say that you are more interested in exploring the “then and there of queer futurity”?
Tabita Rezaire: I’m not familiar with your reference, so I don’t know.
I’ll just say that the then and there is always accessible in the here and now. Only this moment exists. Within each and every one instant lies a door to the whole of time-space.