The Hysteric Witch
The Hysteric Witch is a work-in-progress project I began working on in February 2023 during my Photoworks X Ampersand artist residency at Wigwell Lodge.
This page is a virtual open studio of the ongoing project, made up of my own art, images &
research images in the public domain.
The Hysteric Witch is about a certain type of sickness culture. It's about understanding that
sickness and disability has a history and histories, a culture and cultures and identities.
It developed out of my project Chronic Heterotopia's and the two projects are closely linked.
I live in a body that can not be physically resuscitated because my neck can not bend and I have a difficult airway due to spinal fusion hardware. I was told by a fellow medical humanities researcher that paramedics would be advised not to try and resuscitate someone like me because of the trauma it would cause them.
Coming to terms with my reality over the past decade of illness has at times left me an anxiety ridden husk of myself. Through exploring feminine histories and power and creating the Hysteric Witch I am building myself back up.
Living under capitalism as a low-income, sick, disabled and clinically vulnerable person is precarious. The Hysteric Witch is a call to share knowledge which will allow us to understand and resist the conditions of capitalism that create and sustain our oppression.
The Hysteric Witch feels pain in her entire body but at her last pain clinic appointment she left two parts of her body pain map blank because she didn't want the doctor to think she was lying. She also didn't want the doctor to think she was a lost cause. Afterwards she regretted this.
The Hysteric Witch is a shape shifter.
The Hysteric Witch is a constellation of stars.
The Hysteric Witch is a hallucination you see whilst in ICU recovering from neurosurgery.
She is a figure who appears whilst you float in a deep bath and forget you have a body.
The Hysteric Witch is a tool of empowered, learning and creative expression.
The Hysteric Witch embodies a lineage of persecution and subjugation of women and people of marginalised genders from the European witch trails in the early modern period to the rise of the hysteria diagnosis in the 18th and 19th century to the many poorly understood, under-researched and rarely diagnosed chronic conditions that predominantly effect woman and people of marginalised genders.
The Hysteric Witch exists outside of space and time but weaves through our collective knowledge.
The Hysteric Witch whispers in your ear to rest & let others rest.
I met the Hysteric Witch whilst exploring my heterotopia of sickness. I became the Hysteric Witch whilst dreaming. I am/am not the Hysteric Witch. I found the Hysteric Witch in my imagination. I also found the Hysteric Witch in art, history, my community and illness memoirs. The Hysteric Witch is the history and culture I situate my experiences and my identity within.
The Hysteric Witch has many faces, I find her in the pages of many of the books I read about sickness, hysteria and crip time.
The Hysteric Witch is my rage, my joy and my knowledge embodied.
The Hysteric Witch is an alter ego I can become. The Hysteric Witch is power.
The Hysteric Witch allows me to rediscover and honour the body I inhabit but have become alienated from.
The Hysteric Witch has helped me rediscovering dancing.
Wigwell Lodge residency studio tour
Photoworks X Ampersand Residency film below:
Charlie Fitz with Oscar Vinter at Wigwell Lodge
Directed by Piotr Sell