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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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)