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.

A non-disabled friend asked me a question that inspired this post: Can you give me some concrete examples of Disabled Led Practice? I am an artist-researcher, my main focus of interest, therefore, is in the arts, and so I shall address this topic from this perspective.

What is Disabled Leadership and what is Disabled Led Art?

This.

Deej, a movie / documentary that has recently burst into the scene with astounding and well-deserved success and accolades, is about the life of DJ Savarese, a non-speaking autistic person. “Not just another film about autism!?”, the jaded may well ask. No. Not at all. This one is about DJ, but it is also by DJ. About Us With Us. I urge everyone to visit the film’s website to understand more. Continue reading

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bloviation & the sacrificial lamb

My recent casual blog post, musing on Arts and Disability, and the devastating effects of non-disabled colonisation of the disability conversation, theory and practice in any field, with a focus on the arts, simply because this is my field of research and praxis.

“Perhaps it is time to take the entire conversation back and situate it on our own platform – the Actually Autistic / Actually Disabled stage. One that we choose for ourselves, not that which is designed and built by the non-disabled colonising forces. One in which there is no prerequisite social-political posturing of ambiguous, veiled or hushed up mumblings, no copious mists of gas lighting, and no contemptuous slime of condescension. Just honest truth and a light shining onto a path ahead clear of the debris of gurgling bloviation. Is this even a possibility, I wonder?”

bunnyhopscotch

20180512-bunnyhopscotch-bloviation bloviating babble bubbles

I learned this new word from my friend Rick. I like it. It has a robust movement to its physical form, flow and force. It sounds and feels like thick copious slimy globules arising from a pit of bubbling sludge. This word has a sensorial constitution that matches its meaning. Thank you, Rick!

“Bloviation” – such a proliferate and aggressively dominating activity in the field of Autism and Neurodiversity. Autism is a trendy topic these days, isn’t it? Everyone – from the housewife ‘AutismMom’ to the Professor in Psychiatry, and the outright quacks touting ‘cures’ and ‘healing touches’ mushrooming like unbridled viruses in between – seems to be dancing vigorously around the jolly campfire of Autism.The word makes me think of the many (I have lost count now, it is a long and wearying list) instances of having to silently endure protracted lectures, workshops, conversations, discussions, seminars…

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Autism & Mental Wellbeing

Back in Singapore! Hit the ground running. Two more lectures upon my return from Hong Kong.

“Autism & Neurodiversity – lived-experience & the way forward” – NUS Psychology. Thank you, Dr. Iliana Magiati, for the invitation to address your class of future psychologists on neurodiversity and actual autistic insights into autism.

 

“Autism, Mental Wellbeing & Higher Education” – NUS Office of Student Affairs. An important topic. Autistic students in universities have to navigate a minefield of sensory, social, political & executive function complexities. Specific considerations and supports / accommodations are necessary. First, let’s look at autism from the viewpoint of Neurodiversity, ditch that pathological model, it doesn’t help at all!

(For enquiries on talks / workshops / training sessions, please email me at dawnjoy@mac.com)

Autism & Neurodiversity in Hong Kong

HKU-CGED-Talk

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I was in Hong Kong recently, speaking on Autism and Neurodiversity. An amazing week. Hope to see you again soon, Hong Kong!

(For enquiries on speaking engagements, please email: dawnjoy@mac.com)

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.

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.