Need To Be Adored
art , disability culture
Faced with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, I began with the objective of discovering methods for creating art that were still accessible to me. Along the way, I encountered others who had travelled this road before me. Their experiences led me to examine, not only my art, but also my political orientations, my love obligations and my transitioning self. In my varied art pieces, I conjure something from diverse sources and different worldviews, including contemporary feminist performance art and disability cultural theory. My thesis is a project. I make things: puppets, videos and performances, which included the exhibition, Need to be Adored (2014), staged in the digital media lab of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. The exhibition introduced thirteen of my puppets and a thirty-two-minute looped video. Following the exhibition, I put the puppets away and spent two years reading. Finally, taking my inspiration from Carolyn Ellis’s The Autoethnographic I (Ellis 2004), I turned my processes into words. I wrote out my experiences. I created an alternative text of my identity from an able-bodied cis-identified woman into a disabled trans-feminist artist academic. The writing required an uncomfortably intimate examination of my life. Nothing less than complete honesty would allow me to understand my new location. The resulting text is a lyrical and sometimes whimsical flow of consciousness that invites the reader to imagine what it might be like to engage in such a candid review of everything one holds close to one’s heart. Contained within are all my identities. In this text I let some out. This is a story of unsettling. I am working on my art practices, creating a cast of characters from cloth. Puppets. El becomes the exulted main character of a fictional accounting. She uncovers her queer roots and begins to see that she is at the centre of a very strange geography. Her desire to make film is revealed as she re-remembers her childhood through a disability lens.