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.

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.

c_parker

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

Have you Accessibility Accessed your performance?

How have your marketed your performance? Are you marketing materials available in

  • large print
  • braile
  • audio
  • signed video
  • simple language/image supported
  • Does it provide warning of potentially triggering material (both physical – strobe – or mental – portraying distressing topics)

How do audience members enter your venue? How do they enter the space?

  • Are there any stairs? Even tiny steps can be difficult to access via wheelchair
  • do you provide sighted guidence?
  • are there bannisters along corridors/walkways?
  • do any of the FOH team sign?
  • are the corridors and doorways wide enough for wheelchairs?
  • do you provide free tickets for support workers?
  • are there disabled toilets?
  • are there gender neutral toilets?

Where are the audience placed during your performance?

  • Is there space for wheelchairs? Can wheelchair users choose their position, or is it dictated to them?
  • Are you seats numbered? If so, are they in Braille/large type?
  • Are your audience standing? if so, have you provided seats for audience that cannot remain standing for a long time
  • are hard of hearing or deaf audience members positioned where they can lip-read?

How accessible is your performance material?

  • Do you use text? if so, is it signed? do you provide a hearing loop? Is you performance captioned?
  • Do you use visuals? if so, do you have an audio describer and a pre-show touch tour?
  • Do you use strobe that could trigger epileptic audience members? If so, have you provided warning?
  • Does your material have the potential to trigger PTSD episodes/panic attacks/low mood? if so, have you provided adequate warning?
  • Does your performance allow for audience members to come and go easily?
  • Does your performance allow for noise / movement within the audience?

What after-care do you provide?

  • If you have raised sensitive topics, do you give people information about support and services available? Can you create a safe post-show space for people to take time after the show/
  • How can you get feedback on the accessibility of your performance, in order to improve it in future?