Moonlight Faces: Living With Disease

The woman does swimming and stretching in the pool, they put weights on her limbs so she can use them longer. Her arms or legs give in from time to time. She throws her body against the wall to stop herself from falling.
Bechterew’s is their favourite, even though I’m negative. Got new medication, it could give me cancer. Can’t bring myself to read about the side-effects, sick in bed now, take everything they give me so I can go home.
They change the bag and that’s it, she should rest. But something’s not right there, why is she bleeding? Been here ten days now, examination, IV, bladder catheter, but they won’t tell her anything, they just replace the bag.
They might let you go home, but everybody comes back sometime. Sweetheart, don’t take this the wrong way, but I hope I don’t have to see you for a long time, although you should at least come back for the check-ups.
The butterfly needle doesn’t get stuck in the veins, it comes out after the infusion. Doesn’t snap, doesn’t fall out. Causes no hemorrhaging, and the scar is small. It works well with my hand, but not with the inside of my elbow.
I get the butterfly needle, the veins have all exploded, they tell me they’re unuseable. They call me Rubber Skin, the needle barely goes through me, my veins are tricky, they’re hard to hit.
Pink for sucking, black and green for pumping. Suck up two ampoules, tap the air bubble, press a little, then change the needle. Bend one knee, put the other one behind it. Thumb on hipbone, hold out middle finger – this is how I always measure it.
Twenty-two millimetres, the size of A’s baby: I have a cyst, the walls are sclerotic, this is my embryo. The other is in my ovaries; it’s smaller but also nastier, doesn’t want to come out, it’s stuck there.
I merely say, Let’s go, they don’t understand, they have no idea, I’ll just feel worse here. You shouldn’t trust people, only walls – walls are always there when you’re feeling dizzy.
Find the wall. According to my mother, that’s what I mumble as we leave, and I refuse to take her arm. Otherwise they’ll notice. You can lean against a wall discreetly.
Put a salt pillow under my ear and lie on my side so the water runs out. But it’s trapped. They pump it out, give me a tampon and some cream.
I stiffen because he touches me, feeling my leg to find a place for the needle. This is where the B12 goes in, then the immune strengtheners. At one point, the needle breaks inside me.
When I’m older they inject me in my veins or in my buttocks, the buttocks never hurt – will never let them touch my legs again.
The skin is torn, peels away, leaving a wide yellow layer. Nothing left to chew on. The largest is the size of a fifty-pence-piece, then it spreads to the other side, above the teeth.
Chickens are walking all over me, scratching my skin with their claws, tiny white bumps appear when I shiver. It could be IgD, fever, an allergy, they don’t know which symptom belongs to what.
The biopsy will tell the cause, they snip tiny tissue samples into a vial. One white, one yellow, the results are unknown. The composition of the new skin is unknown.
I want my sandwich, I’m hungry, there are traffic cones on the road. Still two hours from home, tomorrow is history class, still don’t know the Hungarian part. 1920–1930, Károlyi, pre-Facism, the rise of National Socialism, my history book in my lap.
My sandwich is pulsing, the cheese inside is quivering, my teeth are sharp, I’ll rip through my sandwich, bite off half, no police, no inspector, I tear the cheese apart.
The cones outside the window are yellow, but we’ve left the city, there are no road signs here, no accidents. Tomorrow I’ll know the whole thing, get a five, the whole domestic and foreign political situation, 1920–1930, Károlyi, the Nazis.

A heart, a bulb, an animal, old lace, a melted piece of jewellery, a boil – the delicately drawn elements by Kinga Toth connect the beautiful and the ugly, the pleasant and the nightmarish. Sometimes more flower, sometimes more organ, the little gems come from the artist’s study of human anatomy and plants. By forming new organs, the hybrid images show metamorphosis and mutation during illness. Together with short poetic texts she calls »living text-bodies,« the material forms her new project Moonlight Faces, an intimate story of life with disease, which asks the question: Is the shift from the »normal« a form of madness? Does survival mean mutation, madness, or simply adjustment?

In a picture essay, we show some of the graphics accompanied by short extracts from the text.