We are told these things do not exist, that we make them up, and also that they are bad and must be cured. To reveal them is to face attack. To hide them is to fundamentally deny who we are. To hide them is to smother our fires, to dim our lights, to sabotage our source of power.


Broken-ness as Freedom

If something cannot function, it can no longer be defined by it’s function. It may be scraped, disposed of, forgotten. But it’s now free to define itself – outside of the narrow, utilitarian definition it was previously given. it may need to redefine itself from the scrap heap or the bin, but it can do it.

The rotten apple is no longer washed, packaged and sold for consumption, like it’s perfect brethren.

brokenness can be varying degrees of severity and permanence.

The rotten apple is free to reveal and revel in it’s own self, it’s own brokenness, it’s own mould.

We say ‘broken person’ – someone who has hit emotional and mental rock bottom.

We say ‘I’m broke’ – out of money.

Times people may feel broken; after a traumatic attack, after assault, because of miscarriage, because of rejection, relationship breakdown, divorce, erectile dysfunction, when you’re hungover, have flu, in hospital. When you fail to fulfil a role.

When have I felt broken?

When I’m depressed. When I’m late, absent or cannot complete course work on time. When I can’t get aroused. When I’m always tired. When everything has gone wrong.

We probably all feel broken sometimes.

Who has designed us, and for what purposes? What purposes are we assigned, which do we make for ourselves?

I am more socially broken through my choices to be gay, queer, femme, to not reproduce, to have sex that cannot cause conception, to be an artist. I’m not attracting men, reproducing, consuming enough or contributing to the economy enough to fulfil my socially assigned purposes/functions.

I am more personally broken because of depression. I cannot be as happy or active or efficient as I would give myself the purpose to be.

Investigations into Broken-ness

I went for a walk to see where the broken objects were.

Most things on the street were abandoned, not broken. Abandoned cigarette boxes, bottles, newspapers, gloves. I saw a broken window and a broken beer bottle. Both made of glass. Both smashed.

Broken suggests something was broken due to a violent act of breaking. It doesn’t include something that has been gently eroded, or something brought into existence as a broken object.

Broken means it is of little (or no) monetary value. Shops do not want to sell broken items. They do not want to be known as the sort of shop that sells broken items. Costumers return broken items, and complain, and ask for their money back.

A broken person; is less financially viable. Cannot work or contribute to the economy. Takes from the economy. Cannot fulfil their purposes and functions. Were broken in a single act of violence.

Broken-ness isn’t a choice, like deviance. If you are deviant and subversive, you may choose to reject ideas of ‘whole-ness’, or what society claims you should be doing, how you should be behaving. If you are broken you cannot be whole, so you either lament and let you self-esteem sink with the weight of the critics and medics and people around you … or you take it as an opportunity. You survive. Creatively.

Being Broken and Proud is about taking broken-ness and creating exciting, subversive identities, cultures and ways of doing things. Out of necessity, out of self love, out of defiance.

Disability, a certain type of ‘broken-ness’, makes us question how and why we do things from transporting ourselves to architecture to conversation to dressing to eating. It requires a radical re-working of systems and structures that are usually of benefit to all. If we structure society around disabled people, rather than non-disabled people, we may have a better society for everyone.

Involuntary Cures

My dearest, well-meaning Professional,

Please do not press your cures

upon my body.

Have you ever thought that I might not be sick

Or that the parts of me you see as broken

are not the parts I want to change?

I often wished when I was younger

that if I touched someone’s skin

I’d have the ability to feel their body,

their pain and their joy,

as if it were my own.

But where is my right to feel another’s self?

It’s theirs, and I have no ground to demand it’s proof

Sometimes the only thing we can truly claim as ours

is our pain.

My only power can be to listen as they explain,

as best they can, in the fumbling inaccuracy of words

their lived experience.

My only power is to put aside my assumptions, put aside what I Know

and let them show me their truth

in whole or in part, as they wish.

I would not invade their physical body with my own

and so I ask you

Dear Apothecary,

do not to invade me with your assumptions, medicines and cures.

I do not want to be whole.

My truth is not whole

but imperfect and broken

like the world around it.

Do not try and cure me, good Doctor, but let me grow

twisted, abnormal and malformed

and show you my broken and imperfect


Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View

I first discovered this piece when I was 15. It awed me. I have loved it passionately ever since, and perhaps I am gaining insight into why.


Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View

Cornelia Parker

Some context on the work: Parker took a garden shed, and asked the Army to blow it up, which they did. She then collected all the pieces and suspended them, with a light in the centre.

I think the reason i loved it at first sight was because I saw parts of myself within it. It was broken, violently exploded in fact. But because of it’s brokenness, and the loving and time-consuming act of reassembling it in it’s moment of destruction, a once ordinary object has become something powerful and beautiful. It’s history of violence is displayed to us. It is a victim. It had no choice in what it became. Because of it’s treatment, it is seen and celebrated all over the world.

It was broken without consent, but has transgressed the role it was given to play; that of functional ‘garden shed’.

My written response to “The Institution of Sexology”: An exhibition at the Welcome Trust

Seeing the vaginas/vulvas portrayed in this space I feel strong genital dysphoria. I am not the ‘woman’ that is being portrayed here. What is it that I find so upsetting about these portrayals of the female body?

The chopped-up-ness? There is never a full body or person, only the vagina severed from the rest of the image. As if all vaginas were represented by this one image.

I feel dirty and disgusting.

Images of the biological, anatomical, scientifically observed genitals MAKE ME FEEL HORRIBLE. I feel violated and nauseous.

There is no poetry here.

My body has had readings forced upon it that I did NOT invite.

I feel in danger of my body being repossessed. Re-owned. Chopped up, dissected, voyeurised.

My body is poetry, it is artistic, I am it. I define it, learn about it, derive pleasure from it. It is ephemeral and enigmatic. It is lived flesh, it is not object.

Condensed Weekender Notes

I was lucky enough to attend Dickie Beau’s weekender workshop at Arts Admin. These are the words and images with stuck with me from it:

Fabulation images so intense they take on a life of their own by not being a fixed persona, I can be anything Face painted white – I become a screen. We normally look at the eye – wearing the white mask makes the whole face an eye Performance – the site of knowledge making // can think itself/something through // always about the making of itself to some degree // site of virtual protest to really know/understand something you need to feel it dynamic contradiction “like crossing into the looking glass” FANTASY body: the primary medium. the material carrier of the image. where are is felt, created, shared. the corpse paradox 1) listen 2) find connections 3) try things out the people who came before are in us. I am because they are. they are sewn into my bones