In 2019 the scholar Achille Mbembe published the book Necropolitics,  a radical extension of the Foucauldian principle of ‘biopower’: political force applied to the regulation and control of human populations. Mbembe’s theory develops this notion to suggest that political power in fact facilitates the preservation of the nation-state by way of exterminating its enemies, a repercussion of growing racist, nationalist and fascist tendencies worldwide, and a sinister feature of what he terms the ‘nocturnal body’ of democracy.  Although the visual artist Yishay Garbasz insists that she does not knowingly apply political philosophy to her practice, elements of these theories echo loudly in her work, which deals in large part with barriers to human rights, as well as the inheritance of trauma and traumatic memory, and the complexities of identity.
Garbasz maintains a certain physical proximity to the artwork she produces. In some cases, she positions her own body at the centre of her artistic inquiry, as in works like Becoming (2010) and Eat Me Damien (2011) – the latter of which displays the artist’s severed testicles suspended in a tank of formaldehyde, a wry take on Damien Hirst’s shark tank experimentations – both of which attend to Garbasz’s own changing body during and after her gender affirmation surgery. In others, she uses her body as a vessel with which to ‘bear witness’, as she says, to subjects outside of herself, looking towards places where injustice systemically festers: sites of disaster, border zones, industries which exclude trans women – notably, the art industry, something which Garbasz is resolutely vocal about. In particular, Garbasz maintains an incisive focus on the notion of ‘othering’, investigating in recent work the function of the state in producing and reinforcing xenophobic conceptions of the other in order to advance nationalist agendas. She contends that a fear of the other manifests most visibly at borders, which effectively delegitimise certain kinds of bodies, thereby laying the groundwork for systems of violence and oppression.