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More on visibility…

I've been thinking more about visibility since Wednesday when I watched a fantastic performance by StopGAP. In dance, the wheelchair attempts to shed its magical cloaking properties and without it a dancer’s personal space shrinks to that required by skin and bone. 

Dancer Laura Jones set me thinking about my own special relationship with metal, rubber and memory foam. Never having worked with a wheelchair before, choreographer Thomas Noone took Laura's away. And enabled the most explicit piece of Disability Art I personally have ever seen danced. The storyline of Within was almost a distraction.

Here was a work that acknowledged and explored the visibility and invisibility: the need to be larger than life; a work that played with the symbolic and made wheelchair substitutes out of people; a work that boldly acknowledged the elephant in the room and made the absent wheelchair the hero.

The dance was breathtaking; the timing, the risk-taking: an emotional roller-coaster and the sense of commitment and solidarity: heart-wrenching. This was StopGap being superb.

I came away from the performance wondering if I’ve taken for granted that blurring of the line between me and my chair; if having my personal space reinforced by metal rods and spikes has altered my perception of where I belong within it and how I present to strangers. Unable to escape the comfort of memory foam, I may have lost something important to me.

My feet
never touched the ground
though my body ached
to embrace it. Eyes,
resenting the lines
the homogenous
imposition of
a bland point of view,
rejoiced to be free.
And the price, the pain,
the good and the bad:
contradiction made
laughter and weeping
inevitable.
My body ached though
my feet never touched
the ground.

 


StopGAP Dance Company took Trespass to Salisbury Arts Centre as part of their current tour; it features Within (Thomas Noone) and Splinter (Rob Tannion).

Their next performance is on 8th March at Marlowe Studio, The Friars, Canterbury, Kent CT1 3AS

 

Posted by Gini, 25 February 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 8 March 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

Return to digital.

It has been my aim to get Con.text online, not as a downloadable PDF (although that is good too), but as an instantly visible artwork and this week I have been happily distracted from my drawing by the chance to work on putting Con.text on DAO.
Actually I do enjoy working with the computer, and taking a break between words, I do not resist Photoshop for long. My retreat from the digital doesn't last. I might dither, I might hide, actually I might be addicted; I do wish I could do more.
With Con.text the shape of the work is important so some of the lines, indeed some of the letters, require individual attention. I have been surprised to notice inconsistencies that I was happy to ignore in the print version, but find very annoying on screen, so a little rewriting has been called for.
And since the layout is not left-aligned, it will need an audio version instead of the screen reader. I don't much like the sound of my own voice, but it is a privilege to be able to read ones own work and I do enjoy doing it.

To be or not to be.
The dither, the public dither,
implies some kind of brain
activity. To dither is
human. We have the tools
to wait on emotional choice
without the freeze or crash
that incapacitates our heirs,
the virtual children,
digital descendants who hold
the database of our existence.

Posted by Gini, 6 February 2012

Last modified by Gini, 6 February 2012