Autism and the Arts

An excellent article by Katie Sutherland in The Conversation about Autism and the Arts. It is both a relief and a joy when non-autistic writers or producers etc write / make features that are respectful, inclusive and accurate when portraying or talking about Autism. Thank you, Katie Sutherland!

Featuring Snoosphere by Lull Studios, my two works, Clement Space and An Olfactory Map, and Thom & Anglemouse’s Rush Hour at Cloud Heaven. Please click on the link:

“Autism and the arts: making a space for different minds.”

Excerpt:

“Rancid perfume. Stinky babies. Sweaty clothes. Garlic hair. Human bodies putrefying and I think my own is beginning to smell,” declares artist and researcher Dawn-joy Leong in her installation, An Olfactory Map of Sydney, at Customs House in Circular Quay.

At times confronting, at times funny, Leong’s graphic description of the assault of odours while travelling by bus forms a series of video monologues about her sensitivities to smells, sounds, light, colour, tastes and movement.

Leong is autistic and regularly feels overwhelmed due to hyper-sensory perception. This can trigger extreme reactions such as nausea, headache, vertigo and sometimes excruciating pain. Through Leong’s work, the viewer gets a real sense of how exhausting having such a heightened awareness must be, particularly in a world designed for “neurotypicals” – people who are typically wired or non-autistic.

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Reflections on the neurodiverse city

Leong_4(1)

My article for Artlink Magazine, “Reflections on the neurodiverse city,” is now free to access online. Click on the title for the full article.

Excerpt:

“Many autistics experience “body‑in‑space” challenges. The opening poem describes my own proprioceptive quirk: I can dance, but the simple task of walking along the pavement without tripping requires a conscious rhythmic pattern in my mind, usually in the form of a song or a tune. Other idiosyncrasies inherent to autism include extreme sensitivity to the visual, auditory, olfactory and tactile senses. Lights, colours, sounds, vibrations, smells, tastes and textures may separately or in complex confluence trigger extreme reactions like nausea, headache, vertigo and even excruciating pain. The mental propensity towards precision – that is, noticing things in greater detail, also heightens sensory reception and reaction. A common unifying theme in this richly woven, polyrhythmic and highly chromatic existence is that of anxiety. Coping with life in an environment not designed for and conflicting with native autistic modalities, the autistic person is constantly in a state of stress.”

Snoösphere in the News!

Snoösphere has been in the news in Australia!

ABC Lateline featured Snoösphere on 20 September 2017: “Snoosphere: the art installation tackling mental illness.”

A news write up: Snoösphere, an art installation designed to relax, opens at The Big Anxiety festival.

And we even made it to Singapore’s Straits Times’ “Today in Pictures”!

And here are some of my own photographs of the amazing space.

 

20 SEP — 11 NOV10:00 AM — 5:00 PM

VENUE: Ground Floor, UNSW Galleries, Art & Design, Paddington Campus

On the Red Dot – autism

Lucy and I were featured on Mediacorp’s Channel 5 – On the Red Dot – last week, 21 July 2017. The programme was about autism in Singapore.

The full programme is at the Toggle site – though I am told that people outside of Singapore may not be able to access the site. Here is the link anyway.

A written article on the programme can be accessed via this link.

For friends wanting a ‘preview’ of my upcoming installation, Clement Space in the City (2017), do check out the videos!

Thank you, The BIG Anxiety Festival, for allowing the preview of my installation; and Moriya Diamond, for letting us use your space and providing such a wonderful teatime spread afterwards!

defragmenting

Scattered pieces. Little chips, broken off a brittle whole. Windblown. Each one a part of entity, identity and embodied Beingness. Sensory assault. Social weariness. Harsh terrains of normative colonial tyranny, treading through landscapes only the very bravest dare to traverse, yet with such naiveté.

Anxiety is a behemoth so nebulous, insidious and misconstrued. Woven tightly into thick existential tapestries, in myriad hues, flavours, scents, rhythms, patterns and textures.

The artist pursues relentlessly the life of the work. The autistic artist often risking much harm and desecration of Self, in order to bring forth symbolic gestures translated into the normative realms of understanding.

This autistic artist is multi-tasking, an activity autistic persons are often (most ironically) said to be profoundly impaired at doing. The anxiety levels are at head-pounding dynamic levels, a siren screeching, so high-pitched it is not heard by the human ear.

Lucy is not human. She hears. Her presence brings elemental equilibrium that no human intervention can mimic. The show must go on. Perhaps, even this, she understands in her parallel embodied knowingness?

The autistic artist grapples with mental exhaustion, physical pain and emotional weariness. Dealing with the complexities and follies of human interactivity – whether normative or autistic or neurodivergent – is exhausting. And hope-defying.

This weekend, we are working on the installations for Clement Space in the City (2017).

Lucy and her two little canine cousins are helping. Engaging with material and canine angels is clemency in itself… Defragmenting… Realigning… inside Clement Space.

The autistic artist presses ever onwards.

See you all at #thebiganxiety in Sydney!


Clement Space in the City (2017) is part of Neurodiverse-city, presented by The BIG Anxiety 2017 festival. At the Customs House, Sydney. Opens 20 September 2017.

The BIG Anxiety!!!

Multitasking at a frenetic pace and with zinging intensity is not one of my innate talents, but I am attacking it all with as much gung-ho as I can possibly muster.

Things are coming to a crescendo-accelerando now… exploring anxiety and its effects in real life drama as well as unfolded inside artistic expression…

Here’re the pages I’ve set up for two of my works in “Neurodiverse-city” at the Customs House, Sydney (opens 20 September 2017). Click on the links to get to the pages, with photos and video teasers. Enjoy! And see you in Sydney!

Clement Space in the City (2017)

An Olfactory Map of Sydney (2017)

Snoösphere 2017 in Singapore!

snoosphere

Snoösphere, 2017

Snoösphere 2017 is coming to Singapore!

Calling for autistic participants to join us in this exciting project. We need your feedback and advice!

As part of our Australia-Singapore alliance / inter-city collaboration, Team Snoösphere will be in Singapore to meet with Singaporean autistics for consultative sessions.

What: Expeditions to Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay, between 27-29 April.

Who: Autistic persons of all ages, speaking and/or non-speaking.

How: Please contact Dr. Dawn-joy Leong (dawnjoy@mac.com) to register interest, and for more information.

More about Snoösphere 2017 here.