2017 was the worst year for a lot of minorities, and when it gets worse for minorities I push myself harder to provide outlets for them to speak up. In 2014, I founded Esoteric, a feminist zine based in Nashville that focused on women who ran their own businesses, bands and dreams. In 2015, I was dealing with antisemitism at my job and in classes while attempting to complete my Master’s at Georgia State University in Atlanta. In 2016, I finally met a Jewish/Catholic who was as split at the root as I am. As a preface, my mother is Greek Orthodox and my father is a Jewish hero to many. They got married in a tent and kept their religions. As I grew up with Jewish folk telling me I couldn’t be Jewish and a Greek Orthodox baptism certificate without my last name on it, I became a very selective listener.
The man I fell in love with is a Trump supporter and we moved to New York for his career before I finished my Master’s. I even worked in a Trump building without ever losing my faith in feminism and activism. As I began to crumble in my relationship, I built Vain VVitch. Vain VVitch is a postmodern dybbuk. What’s a dybbuk? In Yiddish, it translates to clinging, and in Jewish mysticism it’s understood to be a clinging spirit. It’s okay, everyone asks, including the people at the psychiatric ward I admitted myself to after breaking down right before 2017 came to an end. Unsurprising to most, but shocking to me, my Trump supporting lover became emotionally abusive and the main thing I needed to cling to was my own spirit and faith in women.
What saved me was Marcin Wrona’s film Demon, a Holocaust film cloaked as a dybbuk story. The film is set in a modern-day Poland where Israeli actor, Itay Tiran, goes to join his wife Zaneta in marriage. In the process of digging in their new backyard, Tiran’s character finds the grave of a Jewish bride who was improperly buried in the backyard and becomes possessed by her spirit.
Wrona committed suicide in his hotel room during the screening in Poland, and it still makes me shake to the fingertips to be reminded that someone so impactful to me is just gone. Even worse, his suicide is misrepresented in papers as a cry for his film not gaining traction with audiences. I found his suicide to be a reaction to feeling haunted by a place. In the words of scholar Dylan Trigg, I suspected this to be a form of topophobia. A distinct fear of Polish land and its obvious dismissal of Jewish trauma. For my Master’s thesis, I have been writing about this film and the absurdity of being coated in blackness as a way of portraying trauma. Like a black hole, a traumatic experience can swallow us in blackness without any intention of spitting its subject out whole. Surfacing from this black hole, I was split in two: VVV and B.
While I became more and more isolated from my friends and family, Vain VVitch became an outlet on Instagram, tumblr, and Facebook to surface the positive aspects of my personality while my real ego was underground. In other words, I allowed my spirit to become postmodern and shifted from Poland, Nashville, Atlanta, Gainesville and more. Vain VVitch sewed clothes to quit smoking cigarettes, and I stopped speaking in hopes of not angering my partner. I sent out dybbuk boxes of clothes, accessories and film to preserve my soul in objects and encourage women who were in abusive relationships to stand up and direct themselves forward to what they truly wanted.
Since gaining my voice back is as important to me as providing a platform for others, I teamed up with The Recycled Closet, a high end consignment store located in Miami that specializes in retail of pre-owned luxury threads. The Recycled Closet gives a portion of their profits to National Alliance on Mental Illness and Chapman Partnership, a local homeless shelter that empowers homeless residents to become self sufficient. Now, The Recycled Closet sponsors Vain VVitch by providing the clothes for prospective photoshoots. Vain VVitch functions as The Recycled Closet’s modern broomstick, flying confidence and clothes across the states to women who want to get behind the cameras to direct their own shoots.
vain vvitch is a number of things and i can’t promise you a boiled down answer. perhaps vvv is a glorified excuse to play dress up with other artistically driven women in the area… in other ways, vvv is a move towards the mirror. being into yourself is not a crime, but it’s easy to get caught up in vanity and forget what joys come from girlhood without the jealousy and unrealistic expectations we might have for ourselves and one another.
vvv incentivizes a space where women can work together, wherever you need…
vvv is not all here, and it’s not all there.
vvv is a box…
a direct message may bring you closer to what’s inside
Photo Credits: Dina Kaloti