Adventures in Object Art #MfOR

October 13, 2017 § Leave a comment

This is quite a specialised blog post. I’ve been excited to find a slide show presentation from 2014 on a memory stick (autistically I burrow backwards and rely often on chance encounters with the past – the trick is to leave a trail…)

Like Hansel and Gretel before me I left some breadcrumbs, but still I’m rather awestruck that I could have missed working my way back to this somewhat seminal moment in the evolution of a project called The Museum for Object Research.

It’s a singular slide show. Many of the references will be obscure. It relates to my father’s two earliest plays – one unpublished and the other published in the Castilian language in small number and now out of print.  Many of the references would be known only to the conference delegates of 2014 (familiar with the history of Spanish exile). Other references perhaps only I, or a handful of other people would understand. This doesn’t really matter. It’s the conceptual framework for my object work that matters – this is the exciting nature of my find!

 

 

 

 

 

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Performance 1. Performance as autistic embodiment and research.

May 28, 2017 § 2 Comments

I’m tempted to leave this video right here without any words.

Who needs words when embodiment is so infinitely more expressive? It’s at such moments that I remind myself that words can only translate experience.

Yet the need to translate is there. Even for myself. I need to process what this powerful embodiment means. Writing helps. But I am minded that my words will exclude some friends and colleagues, while my video does not. I’m increasingly aware of mutism and people who can’t access literacy, as I move forward in my professional life. This matters greatly to me. The arts should not be for verbal and text based cultures alone.

As my Arts Council funded research progresses I’m going deeper into my practice roots, and I’m beyond fortunate to be invited to participate in some research group meetings in the US with my autistic colleagues at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley.

This is a joyful connection of parallel and intertwined experience, and a stepping in (via the magic of FaceTime) to a space where all is shared and understood without the need for translations. We get it. We get each other. This is nothing like inhabiting neurotypical spaces.

I even love autistic group FaceTime in this space, unlike my experience of group Skype calls with neurotypical colleagues which felt more like communicating through a tunnel. There is much food for thought in how to approach such professional meetings with my team in future.

One point of comparison is the way in which neurotypical culture seems to demand a more choreographed approach to connection, which is stressful because you have to follow, keep track and co-ordinate responses. This is all about timings.

Imagine something more free flow in the autistic equivalent – where a gentle game of tag allows each participant to follow their own train of thought aloud, to find out where we intersect. This in turn allows a vantage point on the whole (a totality of shared experience)  from which our combined pattern recognition skills can happily forage and fruitfully explode. Such beneficial explosions are what make our programmes and our projects function – they fire our understanding and create new pathways for us.

Nothing could be more exciting.

This has prompted me  to dig deep into my back catalogue of video work, and hook up some of my earlier neurological explorations. These early experiments are now emerging as the valuable research material I need to help me conceptualise and express my autistic professional methodologies.

I did not know then that I was laying down the foundations for future professional development. The autistic psyche is wise – but can only be allowed to be so when given free range. This is my learning. This is what I most want to share.

 

Out of the Shadows

April 14, 2016 § 2 Comments

New video work about presenting my authentic autistic self in my art practice. I explore NOT performing neurotypicality, in my studio, and through my own video explorations.

The music of my body: a humorous take on dealing with Arts Council Funding stress.

March 2, 2016 § Leave a comment

This video was made in the throes of my application to Arts Council England and as part of a more serious conversation about the difficulties of access for neurodivergent artists. I felt it was time to let off a bit of steam. Feedback so far is that it is hilarious.

“51 second of joy” Brent White.

Also part of a conversation about how neurodivergent people reclaim spaces in a neuro-normative culture.

Enjoy!

NB. Not for those who find eye contact difficult.

“I’m leaving you Ronaldo…”

February 14, 2016 § 1 Comment

Photographs taken in the porch of a church at dusk. Playing with character and atmosphere. Finding myself alone in the location with an iPhone for a set period of time it became a mini film set/studio. The top image feels to me like a character in a TV show – “I’m leaving you Ronaldo….”  my eyes seem to say. IMG_8500IMG_8497IMG_8509

The psychic vibration of the object…

January 4, 2016 § 3 Comments

 

 

Objects found today which speak…IMG_8022IMG_8025IMG_8027With all the forms I use as an artist I sometimes forget that the principle source of my inspiration is object work. No matter what I do it all springs from the objects around me and, of course, the ghosts of the past echoing through them.

Today was an important reminder. For the first time in a while I found myself with the opportunity to browse in a charity shop. I have a big submission to write and its skeleton (a sketchy draft) lies buried under a pile of papers – I know what I must write but I’m still feeling my way to nailing it down. Something stops me from committing to the format. My work doesn’t really fit into an online form but I’ll have to squeeze it into shape somehow.

The charity shop took me one step further. Towards the end of a reasonably pleasant rummage (no vintage suitcases alack!) I happened on a basket of scarves on the counter. I usually like to run my hands through them for silk. I rarely buy but sometimes the right one fishes up. Today it did – though at first I was ready to walk away despite it’s powerful call.

It said Abuela (grandma) – the woman responsible for my entire project and the deepest font of all my inspirations. I picked it up and admired it and immediately considered it for the performance I’m working on. Sometimes an object is the cornerstone of a piece providing a way in and anchoring it – making it tangible and real rather than a mere figment of my imagination. Only the other night I realised I would have to call on Abuela for my performance idea. Now here she was!

Yet I put it back. I turned away. A sensible voice told me that I collect too much stuff, that I’ll forget the scarf, that if I even get the gig I will have moved on by then and I won’t need this scarf despite the powerful jolt of recognition it’s bold colours and flowing florals bring.

But Abuela calls again. She’s in the room now, standing next to me urging me to turn back and so I do. I’ll take the scarf I say, and suddenly notice a small leather-bound dictionary nestling on the counter behind the basket. It hasn’t yet been placed out in the store. Spanish-English English -Spanish. My two tongues.

As the woman takes the scarf and wraps it in a paper bag I reach for the dictionary. Inside a dedication, with love and best wishes from Mummy Xmas 1954. 

It couldn’t be more perfect an object – reeking of the times (my father’s fertile playwriting years), of family bonds, of bilingual bi-cultural lives, of journey back and forth. Reeking even of my mother’s own hand and her endless dedications to us over the years. It reeks of my father, his library, his life’s work. It reeks of grandma and grandpa and every single object in their flat in Barcelona, every detail of their clothing, their routines, their foibles. Their enveloping love.

From this tiny book you can learn that exile is destierro. There is no mention however of homesickness – añoranza.

Abuela’s scarf was right to pull me back. She knew I needed this book for my performance. She just knew.

 

 

 

 

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