Yishay Garbasz is a Berlin-based interdisciplinary artist. Her work primarily explores culturally specific inheritance of traumatic memories. Over her 20-year practice, Garbasz has worked with marginalized communities and in areas affected by war and disaster, through which, in her own words, she engages in “a continual process of making the invisible visible, making the unsightly tenderly seen”. Garbasz’s work was recently featured in Phaidon’s book ‘Great Women Artists’ and her artistic activism takes many forms throughout her work. We spoke to Garbasz about the process behind her pieces, the exclusion of trans women in the Berlin art scene and how she inserts herself into privileged spaces as an act of resistance.
Yishay Garbasz: In order to see the world outside me, I have to see the world inside me: it’s about polishing the mirror. Once you move aside the personal junk, it allows you to see things more clearly. My experience of being abused and of intergenerational trauma shaped how I see things. For people who have not experienced that, these things are invisible. But it’s not the only thing that I am sensitized to because of my lived experience.
I spent three years on crutches due to an injury. The funny thing is, when you ask someone how many steps lead to their house, it’s almost a formula: when they say there are no steps, that means there’s five steps. If they say five steps, it’s one floor up. It’s the invisibility thing: people just don’t register it because it doesn’t affect them. And that’s what trauma and disability and other marginalizing factors do—if you don’t experience them, they are invisible to you. These intersections affect my work fundamentally. They aren’t an interest of mine, they are my life. I see the steps clearly.