"An invisible illness with uncertain causes and imprecise diagnostic criteria, fibromyalgia is largely defined by its mystery. And yet, when the onset of this pain follows a traumatic event (as it often does), it's hard not to understand that trauma as a certain kind of key. To hold that key in a palm made sweaty by too much coffee. To never put it down for the feeling that at any moment it could completely unlock the mystery and solve the problem of your pain." (Amy Berkowitz)
"Illness is the only form of 'life' possible under capitalism." (The Socialist Patients' Collective)
Filmmaker Sini Anderson and author Amy Berkowitz both engage with chronic illness in their creative work: Anderson's forthcoming documentary So Sick shines light on the late-stage Lyme epidemic, while Berkowitz's recently reissued Tender Points explores connections between chronic pain and sexual violence. After a screening of slips from So Sick and a reading from Tender Points, the two artists will use their work as a starting point for a broader conversation about invisible illness, medical sexism and making art on crip.
SINI ANDERSON is an award-winning film director, producer, video art maker, and feminist art activist who lives in New York City. Her feature-length debut, The Punk Singer (2013), was a documentary about Kathleen Hanna and received a theatrical release in 25 countries. She is in the final phase of her second feature, So Sick (2014-2021), about women suffering from so-called 'mystery illnesses' who are struggling to be taken seriously by American medicine and popular culture alike.
AMY BERKOWITZ is the author of Tender Points, originally published by Timeless, Infinite Light in 2015, and reissued by Nightboat Books in 2019. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Bitch, McSweeney's, and Jewish Currents. She is the host of the Amy's Kitchen Organics reading series, the coordinator of the writing residency at Alley Cat Books, and the founder of Mondo Bummer, an experimental small press. In 2016, she co-organized Sick Fest. She lives in a rent-controlled apartment in San Francisco, where she's currently writing a novel.
MARA MILLS is an Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU, where she co-founded and co-directs the Center for Disability Studies. Mills is also a founding editor of the journal Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience. She is currently working with Jonathan Sterne on a book entitled Tuning Time: Histories of Sound and Speed.
EMILY LIM ROGERS is a PhD candidate in the Department of Social & Cultural Analysis at NYU and manages the NYU Center for Disability Studies. Her dissertation is an ethnographic study of chronic fatigue syndrome/ myalgic encephalomyelitis and patient activism.
Supported by the Department of English, NYU
Special Thanks: Stephen Motika
THE COLLOQUIUM FOR UNPOPULAR CULTURE (est. 2007): falling and laughing...