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Akiko Ichikawa

first performed on October 27, 2020
At home in quarantine
performed 76 times in 2020


Brooklyn, NY
IG: @theakikoichikawa


“Self-Heal” was an exercise in self-care conceived of and performed during the coronavirus pandemic where I massaged Scargo Cream several times a day into a scar on my right arm I incurred in the mid-1990s. I treated the raised mark using a mixture of olive and peanut oils, lanolin, camphor, and beeswax from dietary supplements manufacturer American Health. The scar was the result a Saturday night, when I was coming home from an evening out. As I rounded a corner off First Avenue, two men grabbed me and then slammed me against a storefront gate. I screamed to deter them from going any further, and the two pushed me into a pile of garbage that contained broken glass as they left, wary of the police. After seeing the cut, my boyfriend at the time persuaded me to go to the hospital, and I obtained several stitches at Mount Sinai Hospital.

The idea with “Self-Heal” was to enact a concept and term the opposite of self harm, a contemporary phenomenon often a reaction to psychological pain, which was in full supply during the pandemic. I was planning to rub the ointment in until the four-ounce bottle ran out, but after a month of diligent application and not much visible progress, on New Year’s Eve to pass the time before a socially-distanced in-person celebration, I visited American Health’s website and discovered the Scar Massage Skin Lotion was no longer offered. Concluding that it was discontinued due to its ineffectiveness, I replaced Scargo in my massages with castor oil, another stored liquid to be more fully explored during the worldwide health crisis. I also ceremoniously cleaned my bathroom before flushing the Scargo down my toilet in the New Year.

“Self-Heal” is also the name of a plant, Prunella vulgaris, native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa that grows in North America and is used in herbal medicine. I believe it evokes positive immigration metaphors, which I think we are in need of in this political moment.