Scheherazade’s Sea: continuing journey, 2021

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Scheherazade’s Sea: continuing journey, 2021, was a year in the making. It was yet again another groundbreaking work on several levels. Personally, I have always presented my “Scheherazade’s Sea” series as a solo artist – creator and performer. This rendition unpacks the continuing adventures of Scheherazade with a brand new approach: Scheherazade was played by the beautiful and talented singer, performer Claire Teo, and joining the team were two other artists, Timothy Lee and Ariel Koh. This made Scheherazade’s Sea: continuing journey, 2021, not only disabled-led (conceptualised, executed and co-directed by me) but also a work featuring a cast of differently disabled artists at various stages of their artistic journeys.

Freelance artists around the world struggle to make ends meet. In Singapore, where the arts is even less valued by society, this struggle can sometimes be very fierce. For freelance disabled artists wanting to turn professional, and departing from the charity models, the scenario is bleak. But artists always hold on to hope, keeping our dreams alive even if by a thin thread. Since Scheherazade first appeared in 2010, my personal and professional journey has been an amazing one, at times tumultuous, but always incredibly thrilling and never boring. It is a story of survival against the odds and unexpected achievements – all of which I owe to my party of valiant human supporters and to Lucy Like-a-Charm. Upon returning to Singapore, I decided that this part of my life’s journey will be one that is actively “paying it forward” for as long as I can create art.

Scheherazade’s Sea 2021, is about newness – finding new friends and loyal supporters, and being gifted the honour and blessing of Clement Space in the form of a differently embodied creature named Lucy Like-a-Charm. In honour of all the people who have supported me so generously in a plethora of ways, I am now using Scheherazade’s Sea to provide practical spaces for other disabled artists in Singapore mentorship and learning experiences they may not otherwise have access to without the benefit of an overseas education. Beyond the narrative and multi-dimensional aspects of the work itself, my intentions were for this work to be a true-to-live yet safe space for professional training and experience for the cast, wherever they may be along their own paths. I can only do this, of course, with continued support from my faithful friends, my younger sister Althea, and my confrère Peter Sau, who began my Singapore journey for me. I was inspired by Peter’s vigour and spirit in his seminal work “Project Tandem” and his role in “The Singapore ‘d’ Monologues,” and am thankful for our serendipitous meeting – because, being autistic, I have no idea how to network like neurotypical people do and so every angel in my life is to me truly a gift of providence. Thank you, Peter!

Scheherazade’s Sea 2021 is also a practice-based research into navigating the realm of the so-called ‘invisible disability’ as well as un-noticed vulnerability, and forging new strategies to artistic practice that provides access in ways that are unavailable in traditional approaches and methods. I am currently working on the final report and will share my findings soon.

A note on why I continue to make this work freely accessible to all, despite having been told to keep away from the public eye in order to pitch it to various festivals and events in Singapore and overseas. When I created Scheherazade’s Sea, way back in 2010, I meant it to be a richly textured work that everyone and anyone could easily partake of, without exclusions or arbitrary boundaries to separate people. That intent still prevails today, and even if it means no festival or big event would now want to feature this work, it is ok. The latter will be a feather in my cap and that of all the cast and crew, most definitely, but I prefer still to stay true to my raison d’être as illustrated here by a picture of Lucy Like-a-Charm, black greyhound wearing a turquoise collar with bright red silk flower, in down position, half her body visible, long slim legs, paws outstretched and facing left, against a textured ‘furry’ beige background, and cursive text in black reading:

“It is not my purpose to ‘fix’ what is ‘broken’ but to empower beauty
in the vulnerable and unnoticed.”
©Dawn-joy Leong 2010

I hope you enjoy the video and if you are a curator, we would, of course, love the opportunity to be featured in your festival or curated collective show if you understand my decision to make this video publicly available.

If you’d like to read my opening speech at the online premiere, please click on this link.

And Suddenly…

And Suddenly

Cast Photo by Victor Kuansong Zhuang. Thank you for permission to use.

Yesterday, I attended the final performance – a matinee – of “And Suddenly I Disappear: The Singapore ‘d’ Monologues“. My friend, Alvan, has written a brief review of the show here. I like some of his views on it, and I highly recommend a quick visit to his blog post.

This isn’t a review of the play, really, it is more a sensory recollection. Continue reading

Disabled Leadership in practice

In a previous post, I mused about Disabled Leadership, the great divide between theory and practice that many disabled persons face, and suggested one fundamental element that is crucial to recognition of disabled participants in the conversation on disability: payment as a basic mark of respect. Now, in this brief ‘follow-up’ post, I’d like to provide some straight-forward concrete examples of its practice in the arts and film.

I’ve iterated and reiterated before, and now once more, I am no activist – I have an aversion for confrontational activity, but advocacy is something that most disabled professionals are forced to engage in (in some way or other) due to the dominating climate of ableism and stubborn ignorance surrounding the disabled practitioner. In other words, advocacy – sometimes quite vehement and insistent – is made necessary because disabled practitioners need to clear the debris-strewn paths, clogged channels, and polluted waterways so that we can proceed with our practice. Continue reading

Snoösphere 2017 – call out!

Upcoming project: Call Out!

snoosphere

Snoösphere, 2017

Snoösphere 2017 – a multisensory experience with a focus on autism, featuring autistic creative partnership.

Lull Studios and UNSW would like to invite autistic persons of all ages to join us as creative advisors in designing a gallery-based art installation.

Snoösphere is a space made up of interactive sound, vision, aroma, and touch-controlled elements, in which people can roam and explore. It is an immersive space for promoting discovery, empathy and understanding of the spectrum of neurodiversity.

Named for the noösphere, which is the phase in the Earth’s evolution after the biosphere – a future planetary sphere of mind – the Snoösphere promotes embodied consciousness of the sensory and energetic properties and performance of physical space.

We see this as the especial province of autistic artists. Instead of being passive end-users, autistic participants are an influential part of developing Snoösphere, putting into practice the ethos “Nothing About Us Without Us.”

Dr. Dawn-joy Leong is the autism consultant for Snoösphere, personally facilitating the interesting and fun autism-friendly sessions.

Participants will experience creative engagement and learn about the process of building a multisensory interactive environment aimed at supporting the sensory needs of autistics. Contributions from our autistic advisors will be duly acknowledged in the final production.

Introductory consultation sessions and workshops for small groups and individuals (completely free) will be held 17-20 November 2016, at UNSW Art & Design, Paddington.

Please feel free to contact Dawn-joy for more detailed information, or to register your interest in becoming part of our project. Dawn will reply to emails promptly and no question is too trivial.

Email: dawnjoy@mac.com

Phone: 0477424585

Acknowledgements

2015-Sonata---Lucy-Sonorous-Repose

Sonorous Repose – Lucy Like-a-Charm 2015 by Dawn-joy Leong     (please do not reuse without seeking prior permission)

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We have made it! The PhD has passed muster and now it’s time for acknowledgements.

 —-

Scheherazade’s Sea – autism, parallel embodiment and elemental empathy.

 Dawn-joy Sau Mun Leong, UNSW Art & Design, April 2016

Dedication:

To my father, Dr. Leong Vie-Ying (1930-2007).

Acknowledgements:

This work would not have been possible without the following:

Deepest gratitude to my supervisors,

Professor Jill Bennett and Dr. Petra Gemeinboeck,

for your patience, guidance, advice, support, and for believing.

Thank you, Dr. Sally Clark, for your advice, encouragement and support.

My Lucy Like-a-Charm

My family:

Thank you, mother, Molly Chye Gek Ong, for your care and fortification.

My beloved baby-sister and faithful champion, Althea Leong,

thank you for always being here, there, and everywhere for me.

Dear brother-in-law, Robin Sing,

thank you for your patience, sustenance and unquestioning support.

My canine nephews, Bizcuit and Tiny Sing

Thank you, my friends who have played important roles in my journey:

Yee Sang, Ho

Rick Feedtime

Minh Vuong

Kateryna Fury

Colin G. Marshall and Misty Marshall

Shan Patterson and Sally Patterson

C.J. Wan Ling, Wee

Margie Anne Edmonds

Brad Beadel

Gavin Koh

Boon Ling, Yee

Shane Fenton

Andrea Kingan

Rosemary Wilkinson

and

Everyone who has walked a part of our journey alongside us, however briefly, every single moment has mattered.

Sonata in Z

Dawn-joy Leong and Lucy present

Sonata in Z

10-14 November 2015 | 10am-5pm

Nick Waterlow Gallery, UNSW Galleries

UNSW Art & Design, Paddington, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

An autistic human,
A greyhound dog.
Parallel Embodiments,
A journey of Being.
Endeavour of empathy,
Spaces of mind.
Sonorous communion,
Wordless interlocutions.
Enter barefoot
Scheherazade’s Sea:
Dancing
Awake
Inside dreams

Sonata in Z is a ‘gentle space’, inspired by my autistic hyper sensory quest for sanctuary, and my Greyhound Lucy’s natural ability to seek out and create oases of comfort. Unfolding like a musical sonata, visual images of Lucy in sonorous repose introduce the theme of rest. Please leave your shoes at the threshold as you enter, symbolically shedding conventional notions of social communication. Once inside, we shall not speak in words, but the tranquility is neither silent nor empty, because our senses will lead the way into a different social ecosystem of softly undulating rhythms, patterns, sounds, movements, gestures, textures, smells, tastes and visual conversations. This is our refuge, an alternative empathic resonance, a nonverbal sensory equilibrium – and Lucy and I would like to share our clement space with you.

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Limited edition photograph posters available for order. Professionally printed on fome-cor or gatorboard. For information on size, print and price details, please contact Dawn-joy at scheherazadessea@gmail.com Continue reading

Scheherazade’s Sea – autistic parallel embodiment and elemental empathy

Paper presented at UNSW Art & Design Postgraduate Conference, 17-19 June 2015.

——

My Ph.D dissertation, tentatively entitled, Scheherazade’s Sea – autistic parallel embodiment and elemental empathy, is part of a protracted journey in search for Being: a detailed study of Self and Other, and examination of multidimensional interstices of dynamic, interactive reciprocities.

This research and practice rests upon three fundamental concepts:

  1. Parallel Embodiment,
  2. Endeavour of Empathy, and
  3. Space of Mind, from which emanates Elemental Empathy.

The theoretical foundation for this work is constructed from documented studies in neuroscience, anthropology, the arts and humanities, and personal anecdotal evidence from autistic individuals. At the same time, my artistic practice acts as concretising agency by creating experimental ‘sharable’ spaces that serve not merely to display autism but to invite dynamic, personified communion; connecting individuals across neuro-functional divides. Continue reading

Art in a Hidden World – creative process and invisible anomaly

Paper presented in The Arts in Society 2012 conference

Published by The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review, Volume 7 (2013), p. 29-39; and in the process of publication in The International Journal of Arts Theory and History, (Common Ground Publishing).

Art in a Hidden World – creative process and invisible anomaly. 

Dawn-joy Leong, 2012. Continue reading

My Life with Hypersensitivity and Asperger’s

My Life with Hypersensitivity and Asperger’s – lecture notes from a session with professionals in special education, specifically about sensory acuity and coping with hypersensitivity. (UNSW, School of Education, 14 May 2012, 5-7pm.) Continue reading

Laurie Anderson: musings of an admirer

Laurie Anderson: post-modern Renaissance woman, Houdini of artistic stereotype and 21st century iconoclast.

There is no ‘frame’ or ‘box’ in which Laurie Anderson may be contained – she is an idiosyncratic artist with a powerful, dynamic persona projected through her eclectic melting-pot of talents as visual artist, musician, poet, storyteller, dramatist, dancer, performer, philosopher, political commentator, producer, electronic gadgetry wizard and inventor. Continue reading