May 6, 2016 § 7 Comments
My last post was about waiting for Arts Council England (ACE) to make a decision on my project. Funding from public money in the arts is limited and brings a great responsibility to the recipient. So I feel incredibly fortunate to have been awarded funding under the Grants for the Arts scheme, and will give my all to this work. The ability to maintain a sustained focus and perfectionism are real assets in my job. They are also what enabled me to put three months into the project development and application – though I could not have made it through without my network of helping hands. Trusted neurotypicals, who were willing to share their insights and skills with me to navigate the NT world.
Autistic artists face multiple barriers in applying for this kind of award. These became apparent to me during the application process, and I have begun to write some survival notes for other artists in my art blog. Yesterday this particular blog post was shared on Twitter by the Arts Council itself – it feels as though my message about the inequities faced by neurodiverse artists is beginning to filter through.
ACE have a wonderful helpline for those who can access the telephone and you can also email. There are generous access measures in place if you can find them and they happen to take the form you can get along with. I felt encouraged at every turn by the people interface at ACE. But difficulties remain in accessing the access for many of us (a frustrating tautology), and further barriers created by the clunky new online portal called Grantium. A more detailed analysis of what is so very wrong with this template for neurodiverse artists will be a longer and more technical matter than befits a blog post – and possibly the work of consultation with ACE if they’re willing.
These are major issues for neurodiverse artists, but could be improved without great difficulty I feel. From my days of social policy study I reckon these to be “at a stroke” changes, meaning that they require only policy shifts and administrative nods to implement. SO it is important to bring them home to source, as I’m certain ACE are committed to access and equality and that these obstacles are systemic and unwitting.
The larger more insidious inequities are those of the social world which are embedded in arts opportunity on every scale and form. This will take a great deal of unpicking to arrive at an adequate description of what is so very disadvantageous for autistic artists in particular. I’m ready for the long haul.
April 19, 2016 § 2 Comments
My process of application to Art Council England (ACE) is coming to a close and I will be documenting it in the final two weeks. Even though it is statistically more probable that I won’t be successful I want the decision to be visible.
I have some serious questions about the process, having gone through it. How many autistic artists are failed by unwieldy bureaucratic stipulations and the new inaccessible online portal? Even prior to this hurdle we risk failing to meet criteria due to the embedded and hidden social agendas that dominate preferred professional practices.
Fundamental to the application is the understanding of neurotypical professional advancement in all it’s complexity – I am willing to bet that the majority of us don’t conceive of our professional practices in this way. This is but one area of hidden code. I could name many more but that will be for another much longer blog post.
Research is needed into how many autistic artists apply to ACE for their own work, and are successful. I’m not talking about autistics as subjects or clients – but rather as artists in their own right.
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.
January 9, 2016 § 2 Comments
I decided to capture an experience I am becoming aware of as an expression of my neurodivergence. It is my love of people watching. A sense of connection is forged through observation.
Very different from my usual video work. For the Sake of Nostalgia takes it’s title from a snippet of overheard conversation which is recorded in the video but is somewhat lost in the soundtrack. It’s an attempt to explore different forms of relatedness and alternative storytelling with the absence of character or protagonist the story becomes abstract, fleeting and without clear focus. It becomes truer to life in this sense.
However the sound track and the decision to use a filter manipulate the viewer. The footage is random and with the exception of the first segment which was shortened at the beginning it is unedited. Even this slight touch of hand created a vastly different atmosphere.
I find people so fascinating I could watch them for hours. I can watch this video many times over and savour the extraordinary micro moments in all these players lives. It prompts me to think about multiple narratives and the beauty of human movement and gesture. I derive such pleasure from the overheard phrase caught in passing and to note the tread of feet on a pavement. Each shoe is interesting, intriguing and significant. The boot with a missing patch at the toe, the clunky patent t-bar shoes and the casual pumps worn on bare feet – they draw me in and delight me.
Each bag or backpack, every gait and fragment of sound seems important and yet fleeting. That is their beauty. They wash over me creating waves of delight and sometimes hilarity. The things people say to one another in casual conversation as they walk together from A to B are often funny, perhaps because they are without context but also because they are so revealing.
For me people watch is probably as good as reading poetry or listening to a symphony. I’m astonished at how rarely people in motion collide. They move quickly and with infinite variety. Viewed abstractly and en masse it is extraordinarily graceful. You can tell a lot about emotional tone and emotional states from people watch and this too is endlessly fascinating.
I feel engaged, connected and energised.
December 11, 2015 § Leave a comment
Here is a short (less than 2 minutes) video with my take on the backbone to my creative practice; the concept of postmemory. First developed to describe the transmitted trauma to the children of holocaust survivors, this term is incredibly meaningful in anchoring my own experience of living with my father’s traumatic lifelong exile from Spain.
The video says it all.
November 11, 2015 § Leave a comment
A video which speaks for itself. Progress from the studio in a work direct from the unconscious which references photograph taken by Robert Capa of Spanish Republican exiles being marched from Argelès sur Mer internment camp to the camp at Barcarès.
My father was among those marching under armed guard.
November 5, 2015 § 3 Comments
To my surprise I made this video today. I was finishing up working through performance ideas when it occurred to me to speak to camera. It had been a productive morning. I decided to strip back my forthcoming performance The Sadness of Being Nothing, to it’s bare essentials as I suddenly saw that it had been too cluttered. Most of the objects had to go.
I was also vacillating over whether to wear some vintage/character clothing for the performance as originally planned. This may also have to go in favour of neutral black performance wear. I have to consider the aesthetics of the piece very carefully and can’t quite decide which way to turn yet.
It wasn’t until after I instinctively turned to the camera to speak and recorded a full 3 minutes that I realised that I had achieved a kind of fluency that is usually difficult for me when in front of a camera.
This is an example of how when I myself can control the speed and flow (demands) of speaking, when the pressure’s off (any recording can be deleted), and when the subject is incredibly familiar and has been rehearsed in various forms I can own it. I too can be a taking head.
I noticed too that I was still wearing my costume. Was I speaking in character? Did my clothing help me become a talking head? This is a question I can’t yet answer. My actions were so instinctive I can only say that the act of dressing up was part of the process. Receiving instant feedback on camera as I spoke was also a factor in enabling me to gain unusual fluency.
There are simple accommodations which can allow the neurodivergent mind to flourish and join the conversation.
What I should say most of all is how glad I am to be able to talk about refugees. It’s such an important subject.