MODERN WITCHES: TRANSCEND EARTH WITH CYBORG ARTIST MOON RIBAS
Realism is a term significant beyond the field of art, instead defining, among all else, our lives. We’ve become “head-people,” who, through central European conventions and social conditioning, have lost a sense of the invisible and unknowable. That said, there do still exist women who have reclaimed both this sense and the word “witch.”
In the long tradition of healers, from women hunted down and burnt at the stake in the Middle Ages, and in the spirit of 90s Girl Power heroines à la Prue, Piper, and Sabrina, these modern-day witches are searching for an alternative to the patriarchal worldview that has permeated all elements of society. Their solution lies in a return to nature, faith in female intuition, and connection by analogue or digital means with their sixth-sensed sisters. In the present time, when Walpurgis Night has been rendered obsolete by hashtags and WordPress, the context of witchcraft has shifted: the sense of the term is so individual that it is now synonymous with feminism and empowerment – a new form of activism, for both outside and inside. Those who are connected to nature and their surroundings must, after all, first understand the language of their feelings and thoughts. It’s here that the real force of witchcraft lies: in the natural, in the craft of using the resources offered by the earth, in reaching the supernatural, a higher sense of self.
Earthquakes don’t enjoy a great reputation. They come hand-in-hand with disturbance and suffering, fear and often sadness. But for Barcelona-based artist Moon Ribas, they’re like a second heartbeat. Through an online implant in her elbow, she can feel the vibrations of earthquakes resonating through her whole body – a live transmission. Moon Ribas is a cyborg, or as she prefers to call herself: transspecies. Her desire to modify her body came from a fascination with movement.
From the vibrations constantly running through her body, she creates dance and sound performance, as well as paintings. “To me it is the most natural, primitive feeling of being connected to nature. I feel that we still need to get to know our own planet, all the other species have adapted to our world and we haven’t. We have always been changing our environment in order to feel comfortable. Maybe, it’s time now to change ourselves to live more according to our planet. It’s more about modifying our mind rather than our body.”
Moon Ribas gave herself a superpower. A superpower that resembles phenomena in nature, such as that experienced by elephants. She and her cyborg-partner Neil Harbisson use technology as energy, taking inspiration from nature to grant humans animal senses, broadening the horizon of humanity to include the supposedly supernatural. While witches in the middle ages were reliant on potions and spells, for Moon Ribas it’s progressive steps like these that are the key to healing: “We have new senses that no longer make us human. We’re not creating a new species, but transforming it to get closer to this world. The freedom of designing yourself, your own mind and your own body. The freedom of living wherever you want and the freedom of identity. If everyone has an individual freedom everything would be so much better.”
Technology and spirituality are not mutually exclusive in her world, the two constantly intermingling through the Spaniard’s art. Neil and Moon don’t want to deprive the rest of the world of this experience: they have founded a company that promises to give everyone an extra sense. The first project is on an implant that knows in which direction the North Pole is. Moon, who has had this nickname since childhood, is dreaming beyond the bounds of the Earth. She wants to feel moonquakes: “Cyborgs are people designed to survive in other climates – in that case to survive in space. We can explore it, while we are here. We use new senses to find space…”
Featured image by Neil Harbisson, other imagery by Michael Sharkey