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Nissen's guest blog...

So that was Christmas. It'll soon be time to go back in the box. Mum, Dad, me - we get stuffed into an old Crock box with, I dunno, about 20 others. It's a nice box and she thinks we stay there 350 odd days of the year, yeah well...
She thinks she made most of us, put together from wool and felt, bits and bobs, stuff you can see and touch, but like most good ideas we don't confine ourselves to the expected; or even the good.
We come out every year to watch over the end and the beginning; we come on the darkest day with a green tree that slowly dies in a blaze of spectacular glory. We watch the lights and fire that encourage a new year into existence and we wait quietly to be packed away - hoping somehow we made a difference.
But are we merely echoes of children's fairy tales? Do we represent anything other than fading, whispy memories of a time before science ruled the world?
We're in evidence, visible, for this annual window into goodness and hope, a window that seems to be shrinking, closing in fear and cynicism as the world of people grows more complex, more unfathomable with each stride of progress, each intervention born out of curiosity and the desire for complete control.
Are the values we represent still meaningful? Is it still possible to cherish things not comprehended? Things that cannot be dissected, analysed, improved, or made a profit from?

 
Are Nisser merely inanimate, sentimental relics, or do we carry any kind of hope for the future?
Perhaps this time she'll take a good look at what exactly she's packing away for the best part of the year; Mum, Dad and me, we just want to bring a little balance: a sense of fun and a little bit of mischief to the world of Homo Sapiens Obduratus.

Maybe this year she'll notice that the Crock box is actually empty most of time...
 
 

Posted by Gini, 29 December 2012

Last modified by Gini, 29 December 2012

London 2012: 3

Cultural Exhaustion eventually overpowered our group and a relaxing trip down Regent Street was prescribed to restore our energy. Out in the commercial world Chinese texts popped up here and there, 'made in China' clothes and objects brought soothing familiarity and the stress of strangeness receded somewhat.

Unable to help with the search for typically English food, I accompanied my friends into PizzaHut, where we battled our way through the complexities of ordering food we might recognise and possibly enjoy, from an unnecessarily complicated menu and a stressed waiter.

Pizza proved to be remarkably similar to a Chinese dish that is folded and eaten with the fingers, but the cups of tea that accompanied and preceded our meal did cause our frazzled waiter some confusion.

Arriving back at Waterloo we presented me to a man with the label 'assisted travel' on his fluorescent jacket. He accompanied me to our train and instructed the surprised driver/guard to get a ramp and let me on to the train: job done.

The same driver/guard took on the responsibility for getting me off of the train when we arrived at our destination. He did have other duties to perform first, luckily it was the end of the line.

 

 

Stuffed crust fingers wave modestly,

not daring to venture far from the plate,

but still adamant in their desire

to be noticed. Their small cheesy

claws protruding from stubby fat digits,

they hesitate, wave from the wedge

that is tidily folded and eaten

with gusto.

 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 23 July 2012

Last modified by Gini, 23 July 2012

London 2012: 2

Via Westminster Bridge and a complex of old buildings with a clock tower, we attempted to reach Trafalgar Square. Olympic Detours and fenced off areas took us through Whitehall and a photo opportunity with some gentle, patient horses standing beside a big label warning that they might kick or bite.

Along our route, a long, long queue of London taxis, progressing slowly and very noisily with much horn honking, was the cause of much laughter.

The prominent Olympic Countdown caused mild amusement, but the young people drawing flags on the paving, and the 'would-be' statues standing motionless on soap boxes, attracted the most attention.

With a passing nod to the lions in the Square, we made our way into the National Gallery.

Secretly hoping to steer the party towards the Sainsbury Wing and Metamorphosis, I nevertheless resisted the urge to cheat and followed my guests on their whimsical travels through the complicated unsignposted space. Looked at through Asian eyes not much of it seemed to make sense, but the individual talents of the classical European artists on display, were much appreciated.

 

 

Do you have a guide?

Oh no, we have far too many rooms for that.

Well some way of finding our way around?

We are a very big place, we get many visitors

we could not possibly afford to do that.

Perhaps just a map of the layout?

There is a Plan. At the entrance. And her tone speaks:

idiot; but maybe she didn't know

they don't have one in Chinese.

And maybe she is unaware

of cultural diversity.

 

 

Posted by Gini, 22 July 2012

Last modified by Gini, 22 July 2012

London 2012 warts and all: 1

Visiting London with Chinese friends seemed like the perfect opportunity to see the place as a visitor with almost no English; apparently it's supposed to be especially well geared-up for visitors right now.

Approaching the Capital by train, I was a little shocked to discover that my ticket was the most expensive of our party since I did not seem eligible for any of the offers available to the ambulant travellers.

Buying a ticket for a wheelborne traveller, did not alert station staff to the need for assistance or a ramp. No-one noticed me or my access problem. We were in real danger of missing the train, until hurried enquiries, in English, led us to the correct person to handle a ramp.

My arrival in London was totally unexpected; UK train staff might not have any means of communicating between staff, trains or stations?

I was stuck on the train until somewhere on Waterloo station the correct person was found to produce a ramp, and she appeared to be unfamiliar the item.

From Waterloo we wandered towards the festive atmosphere of the Southbank, and chuckled about two gigantic figures, one leaning over from a roof and one climbing up or down the wall of the building. Maybe they were robots? The building was decorated with columns of strange, green plastic bowls and didn't seem to have a main entrance.

Alongside the famous river we saw a lot of word-boards strapped to the railings. And some large empty crates that it was possible to roll through in my chair, amusing my friends. On one of the crates was a picture of brides in White Wedding gowns - one of the brides was a man with a beard and this caused prolonged laughter.

Keeping our eyes open for street art and entertainment, we were aware of posters advertising an evening dance event somewhere in the vicinity.

The multicoloured 'rainbow sandpit' where children were playing, was a curiosity that awakened some concern. Was it natural? Was it safe?

Pretty-girl crocodile, weaving through the crowd;

pointing toes, high then low and counting spaces,

snaking, swaying, dipping rhythms; curls of spine.

Supple bodies, sensuous arms, splaying fingers;

dragon-cousin crocodile: breathless, chanting.

Happy laughter woven into swirls and leaps,

arabesques, pirouettes, and smiling faces.

No special dress, no explanation, dancing

all we need to know.

Posted by Gini, 21 July 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 21 July 2012

Proof of Existence

I traveled part of the way to Hakone under a poster with an image in grey, of cracks in a pavement - Proof of Existence. The Hakone area seems stuffed with museums and galleries that will tempt me back; this poster was for Shinji Omaki's Proof of Existence.

 

Passing the Hakone Open-Air Museum I saw evidence of artworks that will need to be explored. Plentiful signs and posters pointed to other inviting destinations; Hakone brought itself to my attention and certainly has something to live up to, next time I come.

 

Standing in front of the naked musician blowing an oversized horn, I presumed it was an homage to the real life naked trumpeter.

This one was small - less than hobbit-sized and on loan from, yes, somewhere in Hakone. A bronze statue in the Marunouchi Street Gallery in Tokyo, he was modestly shaded by a tree, small in every detail (bar the musical instrument), and looking very comfortable with his nudity.

 

If I am frequenting all the wrong places to find disability culture, it is not just the lure of the 'mainstream' famous arts, it is also their accessibility and plentiful abundance. I continue to question the existence of disability culture yet daily hope to find it hidden in plain sight. Invisible only because of a culture chasm.

 

Yet is a society without the need for disability culture good or bad? Is this taking integration too far? Does it free up disabled people or oppress them?

 

This experiment of trying to find Disability Arts and artists 'from the ground up' needs some control data to line up against. Maybe I need to visit London as a foreigner and see how far I get.

 

Those universal sounds, uttered by

deaf people signing, alert me. Here

on the train I travel, wheels on wheels

back to the crowd, quietly watching

window reflection, unobserved.

Instant curiosity lifts heads

momentarily; and flashed tension

comes, goes, never was. I get the

outrageous idea of a culture

where disability just isn't

a concept; a culture where people

are just and gloriously people.

 

 

Posted by Gini, 6 June 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 10 June 2012

Mutilated tans and a duck cenotaph.

I seek Japanese fabric. Something on a roll, where I could ask for a metre or two.

I love the colour aesthetic here, and the use of texture. I feel the need to take some of it home with me.

This fabric lives in the past. It comes in one narrow width, one long length - it comes in a Kimono quantity - a 'tan' - ca 35 cms wide and twelve metres long. Linen or silk, sometimes cotton, each with it's own tradition of weave and colour. And each weave or colour has it's own traditional application: the male Kimono, the female Kimono, the child Kimono, the door curtain - the size and shape of each is defined by the size of the tan.

Tailors and fabric shops sell tans; tourist shops sell off-cuts and scraps. Somewhere as yet inaccessible to me, I'm convinced there is patchwork. But the idea of cutting into, or defacing, a tan, mystifies and horrifies the traditional tailor. My search exposes the alienness of my thinking.

Wider fabric is western fabric, in western quality and colours; western fabric is cut and sold by the metre. Someone somewhere must surely be creating a bridge, opening up the possibility of buying half a tan, a quarter even, for something Other.

If I lived here, my home would be outrageously furnished in mutilated tans. My wardrobe would be full of corrupted shapes - tans distorted to interpret western convenience clothes. Even on powerwheels I balk at the mobility restrictions the Kimono imposes.

 

 

Hamarikyu contains a duck

cenotaph; a mausoleum of

departed souls. Traditional duck

hunting grounds of past emperors

awakened the need to honour

the spirits, if not the consumed

bodies, of ducks who gave their lives

for imperial entertainment

and gastronomic pleasure.

Hamarikyu is a moated garden,

with ponds and islands, a haven

for ducks spared the fate

of their predecessors, to gather

unmolested by hunters past

or present. Forgotten humans

fading in the shadow of

a memorial to ducks.

 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 5 June 2012

Last modified by Gini, 5 June 2012

Soldier marigolds, pots and recycling.

I have made contact with a potter, Yoko Terai, who has an exhibition of beautiful pots and a friend who speaks some English.

The pots, elegant forms in calm shades of white, have a gentle, sensuous beauty, but also the imposing authority of Mount Fuji; I had difficulty restraining myself from picking them up.

I can imagine living with them.

I could also live with a regular delivery of flowers - the most beautiful arrangements of cut flowers; exquisite mini-bonsai in round balls of moss or tiny bowls; or more lasting - groups of fine pots containing complementary green foliage plants.

As the season develops and Tokyo gets greener, the higgledy- piggledy street- assortment of degrading plastic containers containing a variety of beautiful plants multiplies. Around doorways, in alcoves, around the many public trees, bushes and street furniture; lining alleyways - anywhere they would not create nuisance - there are plants.

The soldier marigolds that march Sumida's walkway are the exception, but their regiments multiply to occupy the available spaces; they are supplemented by a crack team of bold, red salvias who engage the bright pink azaleas in a war on the optical senses.

One quarter of the population suffers from hay-fever from the millions of, State planted, Japanese cedar trees that shed their pollen at this time of year. The government is seeking creative ways to tackle this man-made issue.

Occasionally I see Japanese pots - big, bold and beautiful, but normally plant containers appear to be anything recyclable that comes to hand. A curious aesthetic.

 

 

There is more than distance between us.

More than the sounds that never quite make

understandable words; more than the

shape of our backgrounds. There is a

desire to reach out to foreign culture;

to touch the exotic where east meets

west. To colour our days with the unknown.

I have no natural investigative skills,

make no intuitive leaps that take me

beyond the obvious. I persevere yet

appear to make no progress in this

one-woman effort to connect with

creatives who might want to engage

an outsider in the revelation

of insider issues. Utopia continues

to move like Michael Jackson.

 

Posted by Gini, 4 June 2012

Last modified by Gini, 4 June 2012

Chopstick impressions, access and flying solo.

Semi abstract picture of a woman drawn with Chinese ink and pigments, in a slim wooden frame, seen with reflected city-scape in shop-window..

I've had a disagreement with a woman in an art gallery. We were discussing; I was talking about the visitors to galleries, she was talking about the exhibitors in general and the artist exhibiting there in particular.

I said that Japanese took art very seriously. She declared that he had a free and easy style and Japanese art was very varied.

We politely agreed to disagree when suddenly she realised what I was trying to say, looked discreetly around, and then totally agreed with me. We both laughed, but quite discreetly; the atmosphere was very solemn.

While Japanese people walk around galleries in a state of solemnity, once positioned in front of a piece they are not intimidated by art; everyone seems keen to deliver their personal interpretation and to express an opinion.

Not much of an exchange, yet quite a milestone for me who speaks very little Japanese. There are moments when I feel I understand other people's conversations, but dialogue is much more tricky.

I am frequently approached by strangers keen to try out their language skills and strange meanderings across a variety of European languages result in painfully protracted monologues that have no real content.

I am however left with the impression that the locals have noticed me, like the way I look and enjoy the humorous positioning of chopsticks in my hair.

The chopsticks probably say more than I do, certainly more than I am aware of, and they seem to give the impression that I am accessible.

Wandering out of my comfort zone,
finding less accessible quarters,
I discover galleries. Indeed many,
all with steps enough to keep me out.
And curbs not dropped enough
to let me pass; but then I find
a rush of angels keen 
running to open doors;
eager to be
of assistance.
Solicitous. 
And I start to ponder 
the seldom seen
disabled person
flying solo. 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 1 June 2012

Last modified by Gini, 2 June 2012

Symbolic clothes, Kimono and Peter Pan

Discovering the imposing bronze statue behind Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa reminded me that I really do wish to attend a Kabuki performance. The traditional Japanese building of our local Kabuki theatre is controversially being replaced by a modern brick box and not due to reopen until next year. I'm hoping it will be amazingly accessible.

I checked out the alternative theatres and discovered that I had missed the May season. I had hoped to go to a morning performance as the event usually lasts around four hours. I would need a translation too!

The Kabuki stage has a 'catwalk' running from the deck to the back of the auditorium, where the hero of 'Shibaraku' appears to deliver his monologue. Unlike Shakespeare plays, this piece was conceived spontaneously in the middle of another play, by the actor whose family developed the drama and now seems to have exclusive rights to the role.

The hero wears an impressive padded costume to add height and width to his stature. I think Japanese people are perhaps more aware of the symbolic possibilities of clothes and they are fond of dressing up.

There are quite a few young people wearing kimono, but so many women in 'dolls clothes' one gets the impression there are almost no grown- ups in the country.

Outfits that look like mini, frilly nightwear and cute little- girl hairstyles make it seem like Japanese women pass from childhood to old age with no adult years between.

And indeed, a lot of them are reluctant to take on roles as wives and mothers, to the extent that the government is seriously worried about the shrinking population numbers.

Is our fascination with being/looking youthful leading humanity on the road to extinction? Is this particular Utopia a dead end?

 

 

Kimono: the hair

the style, the pins,

socks and shoes

as well as the

signature wrap

garments with

belts, all belong

together. Conspire

to make tiny steps

into a future

looking back

at somewhere

slower.

 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 31 May 2012

Last modified by Gini, 31 May 2012

Crowds, cat cafes and Teleporting.

Tokyu Hands (pronounced Tokyo Hanz) was reviewed by the New York Times as 'the' department store for the serious home owner and hobbyist, it has also been described as a 'makers paradise'.

Floors of fascinating items, many only available in Japan, tempt me.  Countless arts possibilities reawaken as shelves full of curious and useful items demand attention. I want to take one of the stores home with me.

We visited the flagship store at Shibuya, but at Ikebukuro they also have a cat cafe, with around 20 cats willing to be stroked and petted by customers.

Without my rose tinted specs I have to admit there is one gigantic flaw - the store is devided vertically into three sections, right and left sections have elevators, but access to the middle section is via steps.

The stores have free demonstrations and workshops as well as magazines and areas devoted to inspire and enable the newly creative. Next time I come I will bring an extra suitcase - maybe I said that last time?

Shibuya is a hilly place and getting around on steep slopes and uneven surfaces in amongst dense crowds of people takes patience and determination. It is also quite fun - if you have plenty of time. The famous Shibuya Crossing, where all the lights go red together, has pedestrians streaming in all directions.

We visited a newly opened shopping mall to sample their famous cakes and wasted about an hour waiting for lifts with enough space to fit the wheelchair in. Travellers squeezed themselves together and beckoned helpfully, but I guess most Japanese have a poor sense of spatial awareness.

I needed to lean forward to balance the skinny-wheeled chair in order to negotiate the long, steep hill to the Thai restaurant where we planned to eat our evening meal. But was then disappointed by the flight of steps that greeted us at the entrance. The restaurant has a lift - at the top of the stairs - people without wheels often overlook these little things.

 

 

High in the sky

warm and safe

its easy to loose

sight of ground level.

And deep down

layers make up

and down journeys

as necessary as

back and forth

progress. I find

ways to suspend

acrophobia,

bathophobia

in favour of

cat cafes and

big city lights. 

 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 30 May 2012

Last modified by Gini, 30 May 2012

Onsen, Na'vi and black eggs.

The journey to Hakone involves platform-lifts, chair-lifts, elevators,  trains, metro, cable train and cable car (ropeway) as well as some energetic pushing and pulling up and down very steep hills. Mount Hakone is famous for it's hot springs, peaceful lake and eggs boiled in simmering hot pools. These eggs, their shells turned black by sulphur, are said to prolong life.

The 'boiling valley' is 1044 metres above sea level, and contains a lake created by volcanic activity; this was our destination and getting there was the great adventure. The day started with a first - my first travel on the JR line from my local station using a recently installed platform-lift; my destination was Tokyo Station and once there the accessible route to the next platform involved a journey deep underground 'behind the scenes' in one hundred year old tunnels.

About 90 minutes out into the countryside we began our climb on a single track line that zig-zagged up the mountainside, going alternately backwards and forwards up the tree lined slopes.

Moving from one mode of transport to another required up to four men lifting, pushing or pulling my wheelchair. The cable-train gave way to cable-car and suddenly I was swinging up and over the trees, climbing from about 800 metres to 1044 where sulphurous 'smoke' seeped and billowed out of the earth in this steaming cauldron.

I felt I was in an alternative scene from the film Avatar - one where the 'americans' had won the war with the native people - as I looked down on the scar of what looked like mining activity at the summit. Breaking our journey we paused to take in the smell, buy black eggs and wonder at the steaming earth.

Swinging back over the treetops and expecting any moment to see strange flying beasts and giant blue Na'vi, we swooped down a couple hundred metres to the crater lake lying along the southwest wall of this complex volcano.

Here we boarded mock pirate galleons and explored the 20 km length of lake Ashinoko and a view of the lakeside Shinto Temple.

The lake is an incredibly quiet and peaceful place, we watched cranes patiently stalking fish, and overhead what might have been honey buzzards floating on thermals.

 

 

Somewhere to come back to,

for an Onsen experience

Hakone's hot springs beckon.

Swooping through the air is one thing,

how will the skinny wheels cope

on the ground? All of this day's

travel used only two bars on my

battery level indicator;

giving my day a surreal

quality, as if I

really did possess

an Avatar. And although

I didn't manage to

swish a skirt, or flick a tail,

I did feel incredibly free. 

Posted by , 28 May 2012

Last modified by Gini, 28 May 2012

Tema Hema - Effort Time.

Today I revisited Design Sight 21_21, the design exhibition space of the Issey Miyake Foundation, created by Issey Miyake and Tadeo Ando.

Tema Hima - the Art of Living in Tohoku, was exactly that. Film and exhibited objects described the traditional ways of sourcing food and tools that are being practiced in Tohoku, site of The Great East Japan Earthquake.

Visually fascinating, informative and an advocate for the inspirational quality of this way of living holding a key to future survival, this exhibition was exquisitely curated and absorbed my attention for several hours.

The artists and craftspeople who put this exhibition together believe that the future is potentially a dangerous place, and that to be knowledgable and capable of feeding yourself and local community is one kind of utopian space.

At the National Arts Centre, now celebrating it's 5th anniversary, were two special exhibitions: Cezanne, Paris - Provence, and 400 years of European Masterpieces from the State Hermitage Museum.

There was also a massive and well visited exhibition of local artists, the amateurs, as the staff apologetically described them. There seems to be no middle ground, you are famous, international, or nobody; this seems to be one of humanity's universal directions.

But maybe in their search for what it means to be Japanese, people here have not really bought-in to this notion of what it means to be famous; maybe the apology is merely thought appropriate for a foreigner like me.

I was certainly impressed by the scale of local talent which seemed both more international and more Japanese than last year.

And this year there appeared to be a selection of wheelchairs and baby buggies available for visitors to borrow, with even the possibility of a volunteer to do the pushing.

 

 

Nobody exhibits in the

National Art Centre.

Nobody has ten

1000m2 galleries

with 5 metre

ceilings and 20

moveable panels.

Nobody has

370 metres

to share.

Kisho Kurokawa

makes good space.

 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 26 May 2012

Last modified by Gini, 5 June 2012

Semicyber

Lying in bed without my wheels, it occurs to me that I am semicyber, but being without them does not free me from their impact. And these times, out of the public gaze, have no impact on the way society views me. Cyborg or cyberbodied, in the public consciousness a chairborne entity is 'bound' to it's wheels.

Here in Japan where I have almost no Japanese, I am freed from any negative feedback regarding my wheelborne presence, by my own lack of understanding. In that way I am freer to create and express my own identity, to find my own eutopia/heterotopia.

With no way to penetrate the polite veneer of Japanese society, I have no access to the can of worms that must inevitably wriggle under its skin.

Nevertheless I retain my optimistic view of the Utopian. Japanese public, social interaction seems to function in a universal way, working for those lacking disability as well as for those with.

Is this why I'm finding it hard to find any real traces of Disability Culture here?

 

 

Over the Rainbow Bridge,

this time in the glow of

bright lights, Tokyo Tower

defying it's age, gleams

a juicy orange spike.

Tokyo Wheel, as it shrinks

into the past, colour

changes, pattern changes.

Tokyo winks and sparkles,

welcomes with no trace of

irony. The Universal

Design Museum is

closed. A power saving

measure.

 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 25 May 2012

Last modified by Gini, 25 May 2012

Greenroom Festival. 2012

Yokohama's Greenroom Festival of music, art and film (www.greenroom.jp/ ) was this year held in the historical Red Brick Warehouse, close to the futuristic Odaibashi ferry terminal:

"Never has architecture been so clearly at the forefront of the festival experience as it is at Yokohama's Greenroom Festival, the annual jazz, ska, lounge and surf-rock celebration that takes place at the Odaibashi International Ferry Terminal at Yokohama port"

(www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/jun/09/turning-Japanese-architecture-pop)

Under blue sky, sunny but not yet too hot, this was the perfect weekend for an open air festival. Approaching the festival area we passed families sitting in clover - green spaces where patches of clover grow unchecked, and the festival atmosphere could be appreciated for free.

In fact a lot of the music could be heard, and seen, without entering paid space. Arts and craft stalls were in freespace too, and apart from the crush of people, everything except the tree-house seemed very accessible.

I saw no trace of other wheelborne festival goers, and felt sure my presence in the crush must have inconvenienced quite a few people, but they were never, publicly, other than friendly and helpful. The atmosphere was great.

The music sounded rather more international than when the Guardian reported on the Festival in 2009, but I did find some of the Japanese rock musically  difficult to access.

Early evening we headed out to Chinatown to find food some time after the easy to listen to Tokyo Number 1 Soul Set had finished playing.

 

 

Stumbled upon,

coincidentally

strangely

in keeping with

the accidental

theme of this year's

Japanese blog,

the Green

Room festival

feels like fate

joining my

search for

Utopian

spaces.

 

 

Posted by , 24 May 2012

Last modified by Gini, 24 May 2012

Creative Asia

Ok. I've been here 6 days, this is blog number 5, they all sat frustrated, unposted, on my iPad while I attempted to master the technology using unfamiliar tools.

How do I monitor the size of my images? Resize? Crop? How do I convert .png to .jpg? I guess I will have figured it when I post this, but the Greenroom blog will be out of sync with my tweet...

I may use wheels to augment my body; I may long for a cybersuit, or an avatar, so that I can run and climb and swish a skirt, I enjoy using the technology, but what can I do about my inability to think computer-think?

Yesterday I rolled out in the sun to explore Hibiya Park. The entrance is cobbled and painful to navigate and last year soggy pathways also limited my ability to move around. Access has been greatly improved. The park is bigger than I had imagined, but actually last year's accessible bits were probably the best and most traditional; with a cybersuit, I would have known that already.

The cybersuit needs more development; the Japanese guy testing it out in the French Alps will actually be carried by it's user. The guy lacking the disability will have his strength augmented. I guess we've all heard that story before.

 

 

In Marunouchi Building

point a host of decorated

figures. Onwards, upwards

they seem to say

through the eyes of

HongKong and

Japanese - crossing

partnership in

creativity. 129

pointing fingers

educating the world;

artistic expressions with

subtle undertones.

 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 22 May 2012

Last modified by Gini, 22 May 2012

Roaming

Today I spent roaming in the sunshine, getting my bearings. I rolled alongside Sumida and headed for Ginza. There are more cyclists weaving along the pavements, more mobil-phonists standing in awkward places and I do believe more wheelchairs in evidence.

I have discovered that Japanese department stores regularly host art exhibitions, and just past Ginza I did indeed see evidence of a Japanese artist, possibly inflenced by Klimt and Picasso, exhibiting on the sixth floor; what a great idea.

The artist didn't grab my attention, but a sparkling, jewelled manual wheelchair did.

Positively bling - I loved it!

On one of the designer-wear  floors, tucked between international Names, sat this transformed duckling just waiting to party. Covered in crystals, it was the focal point of a section devoted to 'sit-friendly' clothes for chairborne people. And knee bags - I think I might want one!

2016 already calls.
The Paralympics will happen
here, the hype has begun.
Access comes into focus;
the future promises better
and yes I believe. Here where life
already feels good on the outside,
here really could be gearing up
to make groundbreaking breathtaking.

Coming here opened my mind,
re-connected me to
Utopian dreams.
Please, tell me I'm not just being
greedy. 

  

Posted by Gini, 20 May 2012

Last modified by Gini, 22 May 2012

Triptychos, Crow, dammit, Crow

Crow, dammit, Crow. Box 3 and the final part of Triptychos  is heart-shaped and Schiaparelli pink, except for the outside of the lid. The box, 21 cms across and 4 cms deep, has a teal coloured lid decorated with colourful peacocks adorned with hearts instead of eyes.

When you open the box you will find, not a love letter, but a Christmas card. Mary and Joseph hold each other anxiously as the baby in the wheelchair peers up at them. The angel is of course, adoring; the sheep proprietorial and the goose indifferent or just looking for the way out.
Inside the lid you will find the words: crow, dammit, crow

Looking for role models
I wasn't keen to be a sheep
or a man. I wanted the one
who couldn't take up his bed
and walk, to be the hero.
And finding the
dysfunctional cock,
I just wanted to hear it crow.

Posted by Gini, 30 April 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 2 May 2012

Triptychos, Schrodinger's Cat

Schrodinger's Cat. Box 2 of Triptychos, is black and 15 cms deep. It has six sides, each 7.5 cms. The outside has a texture like fine grosgrain which gives it a silk-like finish. The lid has a 3 cm lip and both box and lid are a smooth black inside.
When you remove the lid to peer into the darkness you will see the words read read read read read read read read & read in sky-blue printed around the edges of the floor of the box.
There is also a black square in the centre of the floor of the box. This square can be seen against a sky-blue background and it represents a black cube.
Inside the lid are the words: SCHRODINGER'S CAT.


I am the mystery;
normally.
Inside the box
I am a box only
faith sees inside.
But faith never sees
the inside of me
just closes the lid
and I am gone.


Posted by Gini, 29 April 2012

Last modified by Gini, 29 April 2012

The creative case for … visibility.

I’m finding communication hard at the moment; a familiar phrase that I read recently has rattled around in my head until I googled it: I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. This is Ralf Ellison writing about Negroness, but could just as well be me.
Or could it?

Because my own visibility is invariably surrounded by the negative visibility of my wheelchair I do often forget that when using it, I am invisible. We share my personal space and its easy to forget that we are not one. I cannot wear my chair of invisibility in quite the same way as Harry Potter wears his cloak, my chair is less frivolous and without it I may possibly become visible, but then I am turned to stone. Or something like it.

I do not know what it feels like to be abused because of the colour of my skin, but I can empathise. A lot of people can and I take advantage of it. When they are shocked that it took me years to feel able to speak as a disabled artist, I ask them if they would suddenly be able to speak for black people if they woke up one morning with an impeccable black pedigree.


Disability is the transformation that can actually happen, to anyone, any time. No wonder we are scary; and invisible. We are Darth Vader, Cinderella and Frankenstein's monster. Like Prometheus, we have a secret; like the X-Men we... I could go on.
This is my culture, this is my mythology. See us and know that we are not an afterthought or add-on to the argument, we are pivotal; when you can see us you can see the way beyond cultural diversity.

I value anonymity
seek only to be
the artist:
hand behind the pen:
face behind the voice.
Seek only the space
to work unshackled
by the need for food,
for shelter, and water.
Income tax
Council tax.
Electricity. Still
I need to find out
who I am, even
if it means I am
no longer nameless.

 

Posted by Gini, 22 February 2012

Last modified by Gini, 22 February 2012