On September 22nd I will be presenting a paper at the 'In the Mainstream' conference at De Montfort University, Leicester, organised by The MeCCSA Disability Studies Network.
The conference aims to re-visit and re-evaluate the complex issues at stake in contemporary representations of disability and impairment from a variety of critical perspectives, investigating both continuities and new trends in representing disability
My presentation will be on my experience as both a ‘mad’ filmmaker and a ‘mad’ documentary subject. This unique position has made me sensitive to how documentary-makers use ethics and objectivity in their films, because time and time again in broadcast media I have been squashed into a box of their preconceptions and prejudices, and the essence of who I am is lost.
And as a film-maker making films about mental health, where it isn’t to be pitied, feared, or used to alienate, scare, and antagonize, I have come up against ignorance and hostility from commissioners and other film-makers, who think I am exhibiting ‘symptoms’ of mental illness by saying that there are other ways to view mental distress and difference than the medical model. It has definitely been an interesting experience. I would also like to touch upon Mad Culture.
As a mad person, am I one-dimensional, visually different, soulless, with only evil in my heart? Am I person to be feared? To be pitied? To be laughed at? Am I not allowed to be loved? Am I not allowed to be sexy? I want to be represented on the screen as nothing less than who I am. Is it possible?
I am well aware of the statistic that states one in ten people with serious mental health difficulties will commit suicide. But statistics are for the safe and sound, statistics turn human hearts into empty numbers.
They don't say one in ten people are failed by the mental health service, they don't say one in ten sensitive, kind hearts couldn't take any more of the cruelty and selfishness of the world, or that one in ten talented, artistic people will no longer create.
Two lovely people, two fellow artists, two fellow fighters of the system, two people who I had the hugest respect for, ended their lives in the last few weeks. It has done two things: it has both stoked the fire that will keep me fighting for equality; but it has also left me cold.
Amita Patel was both a writer and an activist. We both shared a love of writing, and when it came to protest the closing down of a culturally sensitve service, I held the left pole of the placard, and she held the right. Survivors Poetry have paid tribute to her on their website
One in ten thoughts will kill you, one in ten people will love you, one in ten words will sing you song, Goodbye friends.
Hey guys, sorry for the delay in the blogging. It is ironic that at the Sync SouthEast event on the 21 July I said you should keep updating your blog regularly... it should be as regular as Eastenders. Well, I haven't kept it up because my life has actually become Eastenders.
The Sync South East event was amazing, uplifting and a definite though-provoker, because the event was on the day the government announced 50% cuts in the arts. I wish the Government ministers involved in such a decision could have attended the event to see the impact and power of the arts, and how they make the human soul feel. Well, the human soul has always been problematic to politicians. Like I have said before, for some of us our creativity doesn't come from fiddling and fraud, nor our culture from shagging our PAs.
The two things on that day that have stayed with me, apart from meeting so many wonderful people was seeing the passionate sounds of Stingray. They rounded off the day with style, funkiness and joy de vivre.
I also met a fellow artist Neal Pearce. We talked about bipolar and creativity and how the bipolar mind sees unique connections where before there were no connections. And when that is put down on paper, the only label that will fit is art, because it hasn't been created before.
One of his artworks Page 60, Book 12 of the Infinite Codex, is his own invented alphabet, mayan-like but at the same time unique, haunting, and so far without definition and meaning, but you don't need words to know that it is beautiful. These symbols are yet without sounds, but I could hear them sing their song on my way home to London. The funniest thing that happened on that day was people's surprise that my persona on DAO is not invented, and that I am indeed larger than life in person!
So what is my soap opera? Well, in the space of a month have graduated, been made homeless by the shenanigans of my ex, lost 2 friends to suicide, and been told by my girlfriend she is expecting twins. I am already in love with the two dots in the scan!