Report Highlights: Exploring Accessibility in the Canadian Theatre Landscape (2020) is a booklet that presents findings from the May 2019 Report on Relaxed Performance (RP) research on RP training across Canada, co-sponsored by the British Council and Bodies in Translation.
Summarizing the first research on Relaxed Performance in Canada, the Report Highlightsbooklet engages interview, survey, and environmental scan findings to understand representations of RP and explore experiences and impacts of RP training across the country. The booklet relates the findings to disability arts and legislation such as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, or AODA, and Bill C-81: The Accessible Canada Act.
The results weave together a beautiful web of evidence synthesizing four broad domains: 1) experiences of and recommendations for training, 2) research and theory, 3) community building, and 4) policy.
Use the booklet to deepen your understanding and practice of access in theatre, or to learn more about creative ways that people are moving toward greater accessibility in the arts.
The Report Highlights: Exploring Accessibility in the Canadian Theatre Landscapebooklet features large text, easy-to-read language, images, icons for visual communication, and alt text for easier access, and is available in English, French, and Spanish.
What are the broader effects of Relaxed Performance on society? Quels sont les effets plus étendus de la representation décontractée sur la société? https://vimeo.com/showcase/7874787
This video, in ASL, explores the question, what is a Relaxed Performance? Follow the links above to access each video in ASL, LSQ, English Closed Captions (CC), French Open Captions (OC), and with extended audio description (AD).
The Exploring Access videos are part of our larger Relaxed Performance offering which includes resources and materials for arts practitioners, arts organizations, scholars, and the public. Find these resources on the Access Activators website.
Co-produced by British Council, Tangled Art + Disability, and Bodies in Translation with the support of Canada Council for the Arts and The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).
Pretty Porky and Pissed Off (PPPO) was a queer feminist performance art and activist collective based in Toronto, Ontario from 1996 – 2005. Their seminal fat liberationist art and activism brought intersectional fat politics and humour to the streets and stage.
Bodies in Translation (BIT) is thrilled to partner with Allyson Mitchell, one of Pretty Porky and Pissed Off’s founding members and Associate Professor in and Graduate Program Director of the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at York University, in collaboration with all members of PPPO – Mariko Tamaki, Ruby Rowan, Lisa Ayuso, Gillian Bell, Joanne Huffa, Abi Slone, Tracy Tidgwell, and Zoe Whittall – on the exciting work of digitizing the analog collection of the art and activism of PPPO. PPPO’s archive is a grounding contribution to the archive of fat art and activism in Ontario.
Welcome to the Bodies in Translation year-end digital collages, which compiles the art, activisms, and reflections of artists and researchers throughout the project. Using visuals, text, and audio, these collages reveal the interwoven ideas, and admired works explored by our valued collaborators and artists.
Each year, we invite artists and members of our community to respond to the question: How has your idea of access or inclusion changed in the last year?
This project develops new activist methodologies and pedagogies in fashion design and education by centring the disabled wearer. In a special topics course on disability and fashion in the School of Fashion at Ryerson University with Dr. Ben Barry, fashion students will co-design an outfit with a disabled wearer by working through a collaborative design process that is grounded in disability justice.
Students will first be introduced to the frameworks of design activism, disability justice, disability aesthetics, design thinking and co-design. Students will use mobile body scanning technology and 3D modeling software to create a 3D digital model of the wearer’s body. They will create, modify and finalize the outfit in exchange with a disabled wearer. The final work will be photographed, and these photographs alongside the final outfits will be exhibited to disrupt serotypes and misrepresentations about disability and fashion, as well as to explore the relationship between fashion and design activism and social and political justice.
To document the project for research analysis and mobilization, both students and wearers will be interviewed before and after the project about their reasons for participating, experiences and co-designed outfit. They will also be asked to keep an audio or written journal of their thoughts and feelings during the process.
Creative Users Projects is working with communities with lived experiences of disability and difference across Canada to co-create solutions that make difference discoverable and vital in a world that’s transforming to digital. Our research and development initiative (Accessing the Arts) aims to build a business model and service that is created in collaboration with the communities it hopes to serve.
Accessing the Arts (ATA) is a Deaf and disability arts initiative bringing together artists and arts leaders to build knowledge around digital strategy in our communities and center difference in the design and development of accessible digital solutions.
From April 24 – May 20, 2020, we hosted a series of online co-design thinking workshops facilitated by guest artists to open dialogue about accessing the arts and share stories around what it means to access artistic experiences pre and post COVID-19.
Participants shared their memorable experiences as artists and audience members, as well as the ways the current health crisis is impacting their communities or individual lives.
We are grateful to all of our artist co-researchers, who brought their approaches and insights to this project. Keep tuned for an upcoming report on insights generated!
Image description of film preview: Mona Stonefish speaks into a microphone. Mona is an Onkwehón:we Elder with long silver and black braids. Her name and title, “Mona Stonefish Elder and Co-Curator,” are displayed in the lower right corner of the image. At the lower centre of the image there’s a caption that reads, “That I am with you.” (End of image description.)
In this segment from the film, Elder Mona Stonefish speaks at the Exhibition Opening event. She reflects upon her grandmother’s loving advice to her as a child when she was forcibly taken from her family and placed in the Mohawk Institute, Indian Residential School.
About Into the Light: The Exhibition and the Documentary
Into the Light: Eugenics and Education in Southern Ontario is both an award-winning exhibition and a 37-minute documentary film that brings one of Canada’s sinister secrets of eugenics, as well as stories of survival, out of the shadows and into the light.
The exhibition was co-created and co-curated by Elder Mona Stonefish, Peter Park, Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning, Evadne Kelly, Seika Boye and Sky Stonefish and featured at the Guelph Civic Museum from September 14, 2019 – March 1, 2020 in Guelph, Ontario.
Into the Light: Eugenics and Education in Southern Ontario examines local histories and ongoing legacies of racial “betterment” thinking in Southern Ontario that de-humanized and disappeared those who did not fit the normative middle-class lives of white, able-bodied settlers.
In the early to mid-20th century, eugenics (race improvement through heredity) was taught in a number of universities throughout Southern Ontario, including Macdonald Institute and the Ontario Agricultural College, two of the three founding colleges that formed the University of Guelph. Educational institutions played a significant role in the eugenics movement by perpetuating destructive ideas that targeted Indigenous, Black, and other racialized populations, poor, and disabled people for segregation in institutions, cultural assimilation and sterilization.
While eugenics sought to eradicate those deemed as “unfit,” Into the Light centres the voices of members of affected communities who continue to work to prevent institutional brutality, oppose colonialism, reject ableism, and foster social justice, including responding to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The documentary captures the collaborative process of creating the exhibition Into the Light through to the exhibition’s opening. Throughout the film, the creators and rights activists share stories about the exhibition process, discoveries through research, and interpretation of findings through the lens of diverse lived experiences.
Into the Light in the Classroom: Teaching Eugenics Histories
Into the Light has great pedagogical value and potential for social justice-oriented faculty and students. The documentary may be integrated into courses. The film extends to studies in disability, decolonizing, social and political dimensions of bodies, difference, sexuality, archives, museum studies, history of sociology, psychology and anthropology, history of public health, education, and domestic science, Canadian history and the history of science, race and racism, equity, human rights law and policy, and more.
For access to the Into the Light documentary for private in-class viewing please contact Tracy Tidgwell at Bodies in Translation, firstname.lastname@example.org. For more pedagogical resources on eugenics and Into the Light contact Evadne Kelly, email@example.com.
About the Exhibition Co-Curators and Documentary Team
Elder Mona Stonefish (Exhibition Co-creator, Documentary Creative Direction) is an Anishinaabe artist, Traditional Knowledge Keeper, Windsor Art Gallery board member, disability activist, and recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee award.
Peter Park (Exhibition Co-creator, Documentary Creative Direction) is co-founder of Respecting Rights, founder of People First, and recipient of the June Callwood Award.
Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning (Exhibition Co-creator) is an Anishinaabe contemporary artist and incoming Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the Cultural Studies Program at Queen’s University.
Evadne Kelly (Exhibition Co-creator, Documentary Producer and Creative Direction) is a modern dancer, and Postdoctoral Artist-Researcher at Re•Vision Centre for Art and Social Justice, University of Guelph.
Seika Boye (Exhibition Co-creator, Documentary Creative Direction) is a scholar, writer, educator and consultant, whose practices revolve around dance and movement. She is an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, at the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, University of Toronto.
Sky Stonefish (Exhibition Co-creator, Documentary Creative Direction) is an Anishinaabe jingle dress dancer, photographer, and beadworker. Sky is a trailblazer in many arenas: from her modelling for Shandra Spears Bombay to her activism confronting discrimination and tearing down barriers. Sky’s magnetic leadership brings people together everywhere she goes.
Dante Jemmott (Exhibition and Documentary Voice Actor) is a Toronto theatre-based actor and recording artist. His latest release “Strength of a Flower” sheds light on the issues we have been seeing for years around the plight of black individuals in North America, while also reminding us of the strength we have within ourselves and the possibilities for a brighter future.
Angus McLellan (Documentary Cinematographer, Video Production and Original Score) is an Ontario-based filmmaker who works mainly in independent documentary and fiction film production as a Director, Editor and Cinematographer. His projects frequently centre around social issues, as well as perceived social and personal boundaries within western culture and how they affect the way we interact with one another.
Tracy Tidgwell (Documentary Producer, Creative Direction) is a multidisciplinary artist, activist and cultural producer working in the folds of the queer and disability communities. She is a core member of Fat Rose, a fat liberation cross-movement incubator, and the Research Project Manager for Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology and Access to Life at Re•Vision: TheCenter for Art and Social Justice.
Dawn Owen (Documentary Creative Direction) is Curator of Guelph Museums. She leads the museum’s collections, exhibitions and educational programming. Owen is committed to co-creative and accessible programming, which are core to her work toward decolonization and contemporary collecting at the museum.
Carla Rice (Documentary Executive Producer, Creative Direction) is Canada Research Chair and Professor in the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences, Founding Director of Re•Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice at the University of Guelph, and Principal Investigator and Co-Director (with Eliza Chandler) of Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology, and Access to Life. She specializes in disability and embodiment studies and in arts-based research methodologies with a focus on changing systems and fostering social well-being and justice.
Acknowledgements and Thanks
The development of this accessible curated exhibition was generously supported by Carla Rice, Canada Research Chair and Founding Director of Re•Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice, University of Guelph, and Principal Investigator and Co-Director (with Eliza Chandler) of the SSHRC Partnership Grant Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology and Access to Life, and the Re•Vision and Bodies in Translation teams (in particular Tracy Tidgwell, Ingrid Mündel, Kayla Besse, and Lindsay Fisher); Dawn Owen, Curator, Guelph Museums; Respecting Rights, in particular, Sue Hutton, Co-ordinator; and ARCH Disability Law Centre, in particular, Mariana Versiani, Communications and Outreach Coordinator, and Robert Lattanzio, Executive Director. Aaron Kelly, Assistant Professor in Theatre at York University supported production and graphic design elements. And, Dr. Franklin White, development consultant, public health sciences, provided notes on some of the scientific fallacies underlying eugenics.
‘Hidden’ explores intergenerational trauma [hauntology], isolation and lived experiences of Black artists with hidden disabilities. What is hidden is kept concealed, and what is concealed is done to hide our uniqueness. As we navigate through unwelcome spaces that create exclusion and anxiety, we recognize how ableism, according to Dustin P. Gibson’s definition, is an “anti-black system that assigns value based on our ability to produce profit, excel and behave, and enforces a false idea of normalcy.” But we find each other in spite of invisibility, concealment and what is hidden. We strengthen each other by centering our communities from the peripheries, celebrating our shared spaces, ideas and experiences with other like-minded individuals.
Through our intersectional approach to disability arts, we reject single narratives of disability. Our collective understanding of disability is one that is political and relational. As we begin to uncover what is hidden, we move towards a rich and vibrant diversity of movements that work to confront our own cultural priorities. Even though our practices are different, each artist adds to the exhibition in unique ways that results into a powerful show. We are stronger together than separately.
Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology, and Access to Life (BIT) cultivates activist art produced by disabled, d/Deaf, fat, Mad, and E/elder people through research that explores how creating access to art for non-normatively embodied people and opportunities for the public to engage with this art expands understandings of vitality and advances social justice in Ontario and beyond.
Bodies in Translation is at the mid-point of a 7-year, SSHRC-funded community/university Partnership Grant that builds and expands upon a working relationship between Re•Vision: The Centre for Art & Social Justice and Tangled Art + Disability to bring together 23 community organizations and academic institutions to advance disability arts in Ontario.
Since our last Big Picture Committee meeting, BIT has produced a number of exciting projects including the publication and video animation of the BIT Guiding Principles, the Into the Light exhibit at the Guelph Civic Museum, the 2019 Cripping the Arts Symposium, and much, much more. We highlighted and celebrated many of these projects at this meeting.
Part of a global initiative across 50 cities, Night of Ideas: Being Alive brought together a dynamic mix of international artists, writers, philosophers, performers, and activists to explore what it means to be alive in the multiplicities of the body and the entanglements of identity.
An evening of free lectures, performances, and screenings presented in partnership with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in Canada and Hart House.
Speakers include: writer, philosopher, curator, and trans-activist Paul B. Preciado; queer crip fashion activist and scholar Dr. Ben Barry; genderqueer drag queen, storyteller, and creator Patrick Salvani/Ms. Nookie Galore; and disabled, gender non-confirming/nonbinary trans performer and visual artist Wit López.
Film screenings featuring works by Dr. Loree Erickson and Kent Monkman, performances by RARE Theatre, and a workshop and performance by the Legendary House Mother Snoopy of the Kiki House of Disney and dancers from the Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance are also not to be missed.
BIT co-presented a video program, curated by Tracy Tidgwell: 1. Fluid by Mari Ramsawakh 2. Watershed by Jake Pyne 3. A Poem to Everyone In My Life Who Misgenders Me (And Thinks It’s No Big Deal) by Devin Gaine 4. Butch Coyolxauhqui by Karleen Jimenez
Location Hart House Art Museum at the University of Toronto
Ancestral Mindscapes is an autobiographical collaboration using video, sound and photography to explore the intersection of madness, indigeneity, colonialism, environmental destruction and the healing power of nature.
Ancestral Mindscapes is a collaboration between Rick Miller, who self-identifies as a Mad artist in discovery of his Indigenous ancestry; Jules Koostachin, a Cree artist and academic; and Geneviève Thibault, a Gaspésienne photographer.