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Dolly Sen writes about the importance of DAO

I got an email from Colin a few weeks ago with a few questions as to what value I got from Disability Arts Online. I typed a few short answers, as I was hyper and couldn't dictate my own voice as it was swallowed up by many others, and poor Colin would have to have decipher it like lost words in a word search.

My brain is a bit calmer so I can give a fuller reply to the importance of DAO 

As a person within the disability arts scene and Mad Pride movement, I question identity and societal discrimination and oppression within my practice, as to why I expected to assume the role of pathetic burden. Instead I laughed at the stupidity of oppressive thinking, by parodying discrimination by turning it back on itself where these views can be shown to be as ridiculous as they are. There is no apology for being myself needed.

A lot of culture and society wants to put us in our place, to fulfil the role as ‘the other’, as tragic, brave, a burden, or ugly. The arts, especially disability arts, is in the best position to question, highlight, critique, or force the issue around the oppression and creating our own identities and agendas. And as an artist myself, it is great opportunity to celebrate my difference. It is the right arena for beautiful subversion, to show how oppression is pathetic, cowardly, and a self-defeating burden to itself.

I see disability arts as an opportunity to develop ways to reclaim identity from a mercenary, judgemental world that has abused it.

Being part of Disability Arts Online, I see a systemic refusal to assimilate into a broken, degrading process. Asking us to be normal is asking too little of us. 

Every political action, personal and social identity development and celebration, needs a history and a voice created by the people living it. As that well-known African proverb states: ‘Until the lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.’ DAO is part of that necessary journey, a megaphone for the voice of the lion.

The aim can also be to ask questions, the more awkward the better, and in that way connect some isolated dots on the disability arts landscape. Where is the relationship the strongest, and where is it the weakest? Can disability arts be absorbed into a model? Should it be absorbed into a model? Doesn’t creativity function better as an organic, free process rather than having to bat against the walls of some model? How effective is the affirmation model within the context of disability arts? How effective is disability arts at effecting change, or influencing disability theory? How many people with the disability arts world are aware of disability theory?  What is it about some aspects of disability arts at its most political that doesn’t apologise for being different, and what can be distilled from that to inform disability theory? What power do these artists have within a disabling society?

Hopefully DAO will help inform and inspire what is next in terms of the future of disability theory and disability arts. Identity is fluid, what is the river we are being pushed down, what arrests the flow, where will we end up? We don't know what is around the corner, but I for one, will be its fellow traveller until I finally walk into the sun. 

DAO provides the backing music, we as artists must provide the dancesteps to  make it a graceful union that inspires the world to move into the direction of equality, till our song is the song of humanity and not feeling pushed away from it. 

Posted by Dolly Sen, 31 December 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 5 January 2013

Haiku for Mental Health Day at the Tate Modern.

 On October the 13th, as part of DAO 'Diverse Perspectives' Programme, I will be filming the Mental Health Day event at the Tate Modern. My film is about Portugal Prints . They are awesome and amazing and inspiring, and it will be a honour to follow them around for the day, filming their Haiku event.


This is what they say of their event:

The Haiku Festival 2012 is a pilot online social media event developed by Westminster Mind’s art project Portugal Prints. On Saturday the 13th October 2012 between 1.00pm and 5.30pm we will be holding a public event at Tate Modern where people can participate in writing their own verse (there will be a selection of beautiful handmade papers to choose from) are creating your own images, which will then be strung to an installation along with some of the best Tweets. There is already media interest in the event so anyone who is intending to join us who maybe photophobic should wear their ‘Free Pussy Riot’ balaclavas.

If you can't attend this free event, you can twitter your haikus to @Haiku_2012

 

This is my haiku, inspired by the upcoming event:

On Mental Health Day

I capture the poetry

Of Portugal Prints

 

 

Posted by Dolly Sen, 30 September 2012

Last modified by Dolly Sen, 30 September 2012

Poetic Response to Outsider Artist - Paul Nash's 'Wittenham'

 Pallant House Gallery will be hosting a few Outsider Art Exhibitions over the autumn months this year. I became involved with Pallant through their Step Up Programme, which trained marginalised artists to be workshop leaders, and was very happy to be asked to provide poetic responses to several well known - and some lesser known - outsider artists, as part of an audio trail for one of their exhibitions. I went into the studio on September 17th to record these poems for the audio trail.

Poetic Response to Paul Nash’s ‘Wittenham’

Skies are distant blue
Beautiful
But there’s separation
The scenery in the distance can never be
grasped; it needs you to be far away from it
he doesn’t want to be far away from it
he wants to cup the sky
and take it home with him.

But always go back empty-handed.

Posted by Dolly Sen, 27 September 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 23 March 2013

Poetic Response to Outsider Artist - Barbara Hepworth

 Pallant House Gallery will be hosting a few Outsider Art Exhibitions over the autumn months this year. I became involved with Pallant through their Step Up Programme, which trained marginalised artists to be workshop leaders, and was very happy to be asked to provide poetic responses to several well known - and some lesser known - outsider artists, as part of an audio trail for one of their exhibitions. I went into the studio on September 17th to record these poems for the audio trail.

 

 

Response to Barabara Hepworth’s ‘Single Form’

 Do you know what it is to be an outsider?

It is black and white for the world to see.

They think they are in the light

And we stand in the darkness

But they don’t see a light

That can burn

A hole through stone

 

The outsider knows the pierced form

The outsider is the pierced form

 

We are not the paint, not the stone

Not the ink, not the clay

 

We are what is left behind

 

You see a hole where the heart is

We see a heart where the hole is.

 

Poor you.

 

 

Posted by Dolly Sen, 26 September 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 23 March 2013

Poetic Response to Outsider Artist - Frank Auerbach

Pallant House Gallery will be hosting a few Outsider Art Exhibitions over the autumn months this year. I became involved with Pallant through their Step Up Programme, which trained marginalised artists to be workshop leaders, and was very happy to be asked to provide poetic responses to several well known - and some lesser known - outsider artists, as part of an audio trail for one of their exhibitions. I went into the studio on September 17th to record these poems for the audio trail.

Poetic Response to Frank Auerbach’s ‘Head of Julia II’

The lines that make the soul
So easily unravel
And no instruction manual
To put the pieces back together
Few people try
The artist tries 

The artist
Haunts with paint
And makes strange sounds
With colour
The flesh dragged as
The rainbow scars itself
with a rusty razor 

What is the artist saying?
You have to step closer to hear
Until the dry paint sucks you in
And you disappear into the frame forever
Knowing what a thousand words
cannot say. 

 

Posted by Dolly Sen, 23 September 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 24 September 2012

Poetic Response to Outsider Artist - Patrick Caufield

Pallant House Gallery will be hosting a few Outsider Art Exhibitions over the autumn months this year. I became involved with Pallant through their Step Up Programme, which trained marginalised artists to be workshop leaders, and was very happy to be asked to provide poetic responses to several well known - and some lesser known - outsider artists, as part of an audio trail for one of their exhibitions. I went into the studio on September 17th to record these poems for the audio trail.

Poetic Response to Patrick Caufield’s ‘Reserved Table’

The perspective of the lobster
Seems a little flat
But this crustacean is deep
He loves philosophy, physics
and dining out,
picking humans out of tanks
for dinner
conversation, out of pity 

He much prefers to converse with the table
But the table is a little reserved
“Come on table, don’t be shy…
I know we live in a blue world
But there is always the bigger picture
Where outside the frame
I was free 

Where I swam oceans in the moonlight
And read philosophy on the beach
My favourite philosopher is Wittgenstein
He said ‘A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that's unlocked
and opens inwards;
as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push.’” 

A waiter came and served the lobster onto the reserved table
The table felt its warmth
And knew what the lobster said was true.
And began to edge itself
Slowly out of the frame.

Posted by Dolly Sen, 22 September 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 23 September 2012

Poetic Response to Outsider Artist - Alfred Wallis

Pallant House Gallery will be hosting a few Outsider Art Exhibitions over the autumn months this year. I became involved with Pallant through their Step Up Programme, which trained marginalised artists to be workshop leaders, and was very happy to be asked to provide poetic responses to several well known - and some lesser known - outsider artists, as part of an audio trail for one of their exhibitions. I went into the studio on September 17th to record these poems for the audio trail.

This is in response to Alfred Wallis' 'Four Boats' 

Four boats
Heading towards the light
It may not be home
But light is light

You call me naïve
But no-one who has sailed the seas
Is that.

We know we are no one against nature,
No one against the tides of time or ocean
We know we are alone.

That’s why I paint – for company
I paint to calm the ocean
I paint for memories I will
Never have again.
I paint to stop me from drowning.

Why is that naïve?

 

 

Posted by Dolly Sen, 21 September 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 25 September 2012

Poetic Response to Outsider Artist - Peter Howson

Pallant House Gallery will be hosting a few Outsider Art Exhibitions over the autumn months this year. I became involved with Pallant through their Step Up Programme, which trained marginalised artists to be workshop leaders, and was very happy to be asked to provide poetic responses to several well known - and some lesser known - outsider artists, as part of an audio trail for one of their exhibitions. I went into the studio on September 17th to record these poems for the audio trail.

This is in response to Peter Howson's 'Suspicious Boy':

A quiet hand
Linked to a screaming heart
Knows

The eye
The flotsam gaze
In a savage sea
Of drowned children
Still alive

Knows 
Art needs to know
Needs to show
The broken mind
Under bright skin 
Needs to dig into the lines
That tears the soul
And show the heart
Coming apart at the dreams.

It needs to know the suspicion,
The hate needed to breathe
Without dying

It needs to know that survival
does not save you
It saves itself

Life cannot be beautiful
Ever again. 

 

Posted by Dolly Sen, 20 September 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 23 September 2012

Poetic Responses to Outsider Artist - Mark Gertler

Pallant House Gallery will be hosting a few Outsider Art Exhibitions over the autumn months this year. I became involved with Pallant through their Step Up Programme, which trained marginalised artists to be workshop leaders, and was very happy to be asked to provide poetic responses to several well known - and some lesser known - outsider artists, as part of an audio trail for one of their exhibitions. I went into the studio on September 17th to record these poems for the audio trail.

This is my poetic response to Mark Gertler's 'Near Swanage'.

Painting sublime scenes
But not seeing loveliness
I have to create beauty
To drown the ugliness
Behind my eyes, all
The horror I have seen
And known, and cannot
Blink away; my eyelids
Are broken wings.

The edge of the brushstroke
Is the battlefield
Will the war for my soul
Be won?

Can I scar the canvas
With enough grace
To save the world
Behind it?

Can I make the world
Beautiful enough
To save my soul?

I want to save my soul.
Will the world let me?

 

Posted by Dolly Sen, 19 September 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 23 September 2012

My piece at Shape's 'Perception of Balance' exhibition

I received the good news that one of my pieces was accepted for the Perceptions of Balance Exhibition at Shape Arts.   My piece is called ‘Balanced Mind’

I have been labeled ‘mad’ by society, so therefore seen as unbalanced. Society’s way of redressing that is not to help me make sense of the childhood trauma that triggered my psychosis, nor to tackle inequality and discrimination in society because of that label. Its way was to medicate me into submission. For decades I was on antipsychotic medication. I did not laugh or cry on these meds. Is this well balanced? It took away my symptoms but my life too. Is that a fair payoff, a balanced payoff?

A tablet does not cure abuse, isolation, or stigma. But I was sedated, out of society’s hair. They said the tablets would make me feel better. Please define better when I have lost my soul. Maybe you don’t need a soul nowadays. 

The message: don’t speak your mind. Your silence and submission are signs of being well-balanced.

So my art shows that the medication weighs heavier, and the promise of peace of mind, of having my life back is an empty promise, not worth the prescription pad it is written on.

I have given up the meds and regained my life. Some may say that shows I am unbalanced. I say it makes perfect sense. 

There is a private view of the exhibition on the 20th Sept. 

Date: Thursday 20th September 
Time: 6pm 
Location: Shape. Deane House Studios, 27 Grenwood Place, London NW5 1LB

Please RSVP to jenny@shapearts.org.uk and let us know if you have any access requirements.

Posted by Dolly Sen, 5 September 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 9 September 2012

Cheap paint creationism

 Was cleaning out some of my room yesterday, and found the remnants of some cheap paint, so I quickly created a painting of a nude, a 99p store nude. The painting is unfinished as I ran out of paint. And I think as human being, there is something not finished, or completed about us, which causes so much pain, but so much beauty too. 

As an agnostic, I don't know if there is a God who created me out of the 99p store version of genetics, or if I am solely the product of my parents' quick shag where my mum probably didn't come, I just don't know. 

The last brushstroke has not left my life yet, but at least now the brush is in my hands.

Posted by Dolly Sen, 24 July 2012

Last modified by Dolly Sen, 24 July 2012

A rare interview with Lux the Sculptor Dog

 I don't know if many people know this but I share a house with a fellow artist. Her real name is Lucky, but her artist name is Lux. I have profiled her work previously on DAO


To celebrate her birthday today, she created her latest masterpiece, called Basketcase. I think it is her most profound work to date.
I interupted her discussion with me as to why dogs have elbows in their legs, to ask her about her art.


DOLLY: Tell us about your latest work 'Basketcase'.

LUX: It is a statement about modern life, an anti-materialistic stance, basically saying: the more toys you collect, the bigger the basketcase you are.

DOLLY: That's quite powerful. But you know I am a mad person and take offence to the fact you are using the term 'basketcase' in a derogatory way.

LUX: Relax, I am just a dog.
DOLLY: So tell us what your work is, in a general sense.

LUX: My work explores the relationship between the Military-Industrial Complex and copycat violence.

With influences as diverse as Rousseau and Francis Bacon, new combinations are crafted from both explicit and implicit textures.

Ever since I was a puppy I have been fascinated by the endless oscillation of the universe. What starts out as undefined soon becomes corrupted into a hegemony of lust, leaving only a sense of undefined and the unlikelihood of a new synthesis.

As wavering replicas become transformed through undefined and critical practice, the viewer is left with a new agenda of the inaccuracies of our existence.

Dolly: I see... Anything else you would like to add?

Lux: Yes, rub my belly.

 

 

Posted by Dolly Sen, 22 July 2012

Last modified by Dolly Sen, 22 July 2012