Tag Archives: book

SPACES – photo project

Currently in the midst of updating my photography portfolio through various concocted projects. Here are a few results from SPACES: Photos of people in places important to them.

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Wade Davis– remembering all culture – telling all stories

I have returned with an audio piece. Wade Davis’s Massey lecture will be broadcast tonight at 9pm (Monday Nov. 2nd 2009) on CBC radio one’s Ideas. I was able to interview him before his final Massey Lecture presentation in Toronto. He was able to give me a half-hour long interview.This is my little piece, produced today and aired on At Humber. I may end up producing a feature profile piece with this interview if I find the time.

memories from the Toronto Hospital for the Insane

InSANITY7

InSANITY6flickr

Artwork from Nuit Blanche exhibition
“In SANITY”, The Story Behind The Wall
Presented by Workman Arts Project Ontario

This sculpture was done by Annalise and is based on the profile of Cynthia H. a patient who was held in the Toronto Asylum for the Insane from 1904 – 1909

All works were based on patient bios from Geoffrey Reaume’s book Remembrance of Patients Past.

Cynthia H.’s fallopian tubes, uterus and one ovary were removed while at the hospital. At the time doctors believed that a woman could be cured of ‘insanity’ by removing her reproductive organs.

All sculptural works at the exhibition reminded me of each individuals struggle but also identified them very specifically as personalities. Each work appeared as an homage to the person being depicted.

motor-taxi, travel guide —CONNECTION— movie moment.dragged down the streets of pisco.

The streets of Pisco. Motor-taxi parked on corner. Image courtesy of Tim Kelf on flickr.

The streets of Pisco. Motor-taxi parked on corner. Image courtesy of Tim Kelf on flickr.

It is my first day in Pisco, a small town situated in southern Peru close to Paracas National Park. The doors to this hostel remain locked at all times which is un-usual, because it is the first place I’ve stayed in Peru with such security. Various travel companions have disappeared scrambling to other corners of South America. Dust surrounds blocks of buildings. Dirt roads have a way of making me feel at ease.

I exit the hostels gleaming doors in search of Internet. Before I leave for an expedition to the park I must send off news and assurance to my mother who, as always, is frantic about me being out in the world. Dust coats my toes as I step off the sidewalk and onto the road. My backpack hangs loosely on my shoulder.

I’ve reached the other side of the intersection and am tugged backwards. The backpack strap slips comfortably into my right hand. I pull back. The man above me strengthens his grip. He is standing on a motor-taxi (motorcycle made into a mini taxi). They are puttering along slowly so I begin to run with them pulling harder on my backpack.

I remember his face plastered to the sky, turning his head every so often to look at the road ahead. This moment is lodged into my memory vault as a mini-video complete with the revving of a motorcycle and my guttural screams. He tells the driver to speed up in Spanish. I will not let go and so I run faster and faster and faster. The ground catches up to me, spinning like a wild carnival ride. It wants to take me with it, and it does. Well, partially anyway. My backpack is still attached to my arms while the rest of me bounces along the gravel road. This is not a good idea. Hands burst open and I sit up in the middle of the street.

I feel my limbs weak and shaking and I think. I sit and I think. ‘There was nothing in that bag, there was nothing in that bag. A lonely planet, a CD, some phone numbers.’ A few tears run down my face because my body is tired. I do not feel the blood droplets down the left side of my back. Strangers gather around me. I am unintelligible and before too long I’m in a luxurious air-conditioned police car. Blindly led from place to place I insist that I need no painkillers and would like to get back to the hostel. The physical pain only comes that night when my emotions cannot be controlled, but hostel workers and travelers are a comfort bringing me cream for my skinned back and various herbal remedies.

It is fascinating what your body will do in moments of physical confrontation. One body instigates a collision disrupting another body’s sense of being. Breathing is jarred out of a lullaby. Blood flow adjusts its speed as it runs through veins. All cells and bodily tasks are disturbed. As much as science is able to explain these happenings distilling them into step-by-step dry logic, it is nevertheless a magical story as one experiences it. A minor bodily confrontation is exhilarating. One set of muscles, veins and organs straining against another. Adrenaline pumping.

Romanticized lonely planet cover. Image courtesy of Maurizio / rizio on flickr.

Romanticized lonely planet cover. Image courtesy of Maurizio / rizio on flickr.

exile and pride — a review

exile & pride

It is rare to read theory that is as accessible as Eli Clare’s Pride and Exile. His ideas and re-imaginings of queer and disabled identity wrap around personal experience and reflection.

Clare is comfortable enough in his own body and character to offer up the most intimate moments of his life onto the printed page. Growing up, “a girl not convinced of her girlness”, early on, Clare makes evident his path from tomboy to butch-dyke to transgender. He also makes clear his relationship to his disabled body. Cerebral palsy has given him an unsteady right foot to balance on during endless hiking escapades. Clare writes passages describing the satisfaction of ending a long run, muscles aching, and bones strong.

Read and studied in disability studies programs this books full title Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness and Liberation distinguishes the text as belonging to the realm of academia. Its words, however, cross the boundaries of theory, memoir and poetry. Bodily descriptions are linked to a history of medical observations of disabled bodies and medical uses of disabled children.

The pride that leaps from each page highlights a disconnect between Clare’s image of himself and the commonly held view that a disabled body is one that wants to and needs to be fixed. This is where shame comes in. Shame has its part to play and is locked into pride; a dance ensues and continues throughout life.

In a fairly short book, Clare’s essays connect class, race and gender politics using poetic description to do this. The book is fluid, addressing ableist ideologies including obsessions with ‘supercrip’ stories; “ a guy with one leg runs across Canada,” “an adolescent girl with downs syndrome learns how to drive.” The focus on these stories, Clare says, overtakes the importance of recognizing difficulties created when social and physical conditions do not consider those with disabilities.

The most absorbing chapter of the text is Freaks and Queers in which he reconciles his place in the history of the freak show. Instead of predictably dismissing this historical trend, which in a more nuanced way still exists, Clare speaks of ways to address ‘the gawker.’ He continues to describe the dynamic that existed within freak-show communities where despite continued exploitation, once off stage, there existed a certain level of equality and care not found elsewhere in that point in history (mid-1800s to mid-1900s).

Reading this book I got the sense that poetry is as natural as breathing for Clare and that there is no other way in which this book should be written. His emotional acuity connected me to experiences that could never be my own. Until now I have never read a book that combines political conviction with such succulent and graceful language. If it were practical to do so I would quote the entire book. Memorable quotes include a passage in which Clare describes his favorite t-shirt slogan; PISS ON PITY, another is when the author points out the power of language saying that instead of ‘able-bodied’ he describes those without disabilities as ‘enabled’. After much contemplation and vacillation I will end with one of Clare’s most succinct paragraphs, speaking to the overall concept of Exile and Pride.

“Gender reaches into disability; disability wraps around class; class strains against abuse; abuse snarls into sexuality; sexuality folds on top of race . . . everything finally piling into a single human body. To write about any aspect of identity, any aspect of the body means writing about this entire maze.”