Activities for Daily Living: A Labour of Love
It has been five years now since we encountered the figure of Toma Sik, a Hungarian-Israeli, utopian-socialist, world citizen, esperantist, anarcho-pacifist, vegan aimed at fruitarian, naturist and naturalist, na- turopathic, secular-humanistic rationalist, anti-Zionist, socio- political human rights & peace multi-activist. This (long-winded) list was in fact the way that he presented himself when looking for others with whom to join in a shared living through ceaseless personal correspondences and a public propaganda campaign in which he handed out flyers in streets around the world. A very detailed and uncompromising self definition in order to be understood and embraced, while also a process of individualisation, searching for defining his own subjectivity. We finally caught up to Toma Sik in October of this year at the Institute for Social History (IISH) in Amsterdam, where we found him abandoned and voiceless. Unfortunately, we did not make in time, Toma passed away alone in his native land of Hungary while trying to establish his dream of a commune free of inequality and dogma. His body of papers, having been donated to the IISH after his death in 2004 was deemed a low priority and as a result lay untouched, unorganized and slowly decomposing in the warehouse of the institute. ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼ For six weeks we enacted a quotidian performance of care for his body of papers. We performed a labor of love, for each day of the week we alternated, with one of us commuting to the institute to care for, clean, and organize Sik’s body of papers, while the other one stayed with our daughter, taking her to the zoo or the botanical gardens or the library, or simply staying at home. We performed the role that many adults our age find themselves in, having children late and with the elderly living longer: caring for their young children and their aging parents. Each day we performed reproductive work and essentially removed ourselves from a wage earning economy. During the six weeks that we spent with the body of papers, Toma Sik came to life and became part of our daily family conversation. At the end of each day we would recount our experience with the elderly Sik and the stories that his papers told, while our daughter would recount stories of her day through role playing. We ended the first stage of this work with presenting to the IISH a catalog of the papers of Toma Sik, organized by us without any archival intention or use value and according to the long list of definitions that Sik used to describe himself. This document will be the public document in which Sik’s archive is available to for research on the IISH website and when requested at the institute. On our last day, ac- companied by our daughter we brought Sik’s body of papers into the archive warehouse had placed him on his designated shelf to rest peacefully.