Difference-Attuned Witnessing: Risks and Potentialities of Arts-Based Research

Authors: Carla Rice, Katie Cook, K. Alysse Bailey

In this paper, we interrogate notions of affect, vulnerability and difference-attuned empathy, and how they relate to bearing witness across difference—specifically, connecting through creativity, experiencing the risks and rewards of vulnerability, and witnessing the expression of difficult emotions and the recounting of affect-imbued events within an arts-based process called digital/multi-media storytelling (DST). Data for this paper consists of 63 process-oriented interviews conducted before and after participants engaged with DST in a research project focused on interrogating negative concepts of disability that create barriers to healthcare. These retrospective reflections on DST coalesce around experiences of vulnerability, relationality, and the risks associated with witnessing one’s own and others’ selective disclosures of difficult emotions and affect-laden aspects of experiences of difference. Through analyzing findings from our process-oriented interviews, we offer a framework for understanding witnessing as a necessarily affective, difference-attuned act that carries both risk and transformative potential. Our analysis draws on feminist Indigenous (Maracle), Black (Nash) and affect (Ahmed) theories to frame emerging concepts of affective witnessing across difference, difference-attuned empathy, and asymmetrical vulnerability within the arts-based research process. 

Living dis/artfully with and in illness

Authors: P. Douglas, C. Rice, & A. Siddiqui

This article experiments with multimedia storytelling to re-vision difference outside biomedical and humanistic frames by generating new understandings of living dis/artfully with illness. We present and analyze seven short videos created by women and trans people living with illness as part of an arts-based research project that aimed to speak back to hegemonic concepts of disability that create barriers to healthcare. We call for a welcoming in of disability studies’ disruptive and re-imaginative orientations to bodily difference to unsettle medicine’s humanistic accounts. In turn, we advance medical post-humanistic approaches that call on disability studies to re-embody its theories and approaches.

Multimedia Storytelling Methodology: Notes on Access and Inclusion in Neoliberal Times

Authors: Carla Rice and Ingrid Mündel

In this article, the authors examine the impact of using their evolving multimedia storytelling method (digital art and video) to challenge dominant representations of non-normative bodies and foster more inclusive spaces. Drawing on their collaborative work with disability and non- normatively embodied artists and communities, they investigate the challenges of negotiating what ‘access’ and ‘inclusion’ mean beyond the individualizing discourses of neoliberalism without erasing the specificities of differentially-lived experiences. Reflecting on their experiences in a variety of workshops and on a selection of videos made in those workshops, they identify and analyze three iterative ‘movements’ that mark their storytelling processes: from failure to vulnerability, from time to temporality, and from individual voice to collective concerns. The authors end by considering some of the ways they have experimented with developing an iterative workshop method that welcomes difference while simultaneously allowing for an examination of the terms of the shared space and of the mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion operating within that space.

Re-storying autism: A body becoming disability studies in education approach

Authors: Patty Douglas, Carla Rice, Katherine Runswick-Cole, Anthony Easton, Margaret F. (Meg) Gibson, Julia Gruson-Wood, Estée Klar, Raya Shields

This paper presents and analyzes six short first-person films produced through a collaborative multimedia storytelling workshop series focused on experiences of autism, education and inclusion. The aim of the project is to co-create new understandings of autism beyond functionalist and biomedical ones that reify autism as a problem of disordered brains and underpin special education. We fashion a body becoming disability studies in education approach to proliferate stories of autism outside received cultural scripts—autism as biomedical disorder, brain-based difference, otherworldliness, lost or stolen child and more. Our approach keeps the meaning of autism moving, always emerging, resisting, fading away and becoming again in relation to context, time, space, material oppressions, cultural scripts, intersecting differences, surprising bodies and interpretative engagement. We argue that the films we present and analyze not only significantly change and critique traditional special education approaches based on assumptions of the normative human as non-autistic, they also enact ‘autism’ as a becoming process and relation with implications for inclusive educators. By this we mean that the stories shift what autism might be and become, and open space for a proliferation of representations and practices of difference in and beyond educational contexts that support flourishing for all.

Making spaces: Multimedia storytelling as reflexive, creative praxis

Authors: Carla Rice, Andrea LaMarre, Nadine Changfoot, Patty Douglas

In this article, we explore our experiences as researchers and participants in multimedia storytelling, an arts-informed method wherein we work with artists and aggrieved communities to speak back to dominant representations through film. In positioning ourselves as storytellers, we do research with rather than “on” or “for” participants, allowing us to connect in practical and affective ways as we co-create films. Drawing from dialogues about our workshop experiences, we outline four themes that make the storytelling space unique: reflexivity; structure and creativity; transitional space and reverberations; and fixing versus being/becoming with. We analyze our self-reflexive films on mind-body difference as “biomythographies,” as films that situate stories of ourselves in technological-temporal-spatial relations and that highlight how we make/experience change through creative research. Multimedia storytelling, we argue, allows us to enact reflexive creative praxis in a way that opens to difference rather than trying to fix it, forging an ethic we find all too rare in the neoliberal university.

Reconceptualizing temporality in and through multimedia storytelling: Making time with Through Thick and Thin

Authors: Emily R. M. Lind, Crystal Kotow, Carla Rice, Jen Rinaldi, Andrea LaMarre, May Friedman, Tracy Tidgwell

What lessons about linearity are illuminated by the stories that engage our experience of queer fat bodies? The authors examine stories generated in the collaborative, community-based research project Through Thick and Thin. They analyze a selection of 3- to 7-minute microdocumentaries produced in the project that feature assemblages of queer sexuality, gender expression and identity, and other privileged or minoritized identifications (race, disability, class, indigeneity) in confrontation with weight-based stigma, expectations around eating and exercise, and experiences of pathologization. The authors argue that linearity requires a constant labor of improvement that seeks to restore and recover fat queer bodies to imagined state(s) of normalcy/health. By using concepts of queer and crip time, the authors illustrate how queer subjectivity—queered in terms of not only sexuality, but also body shape and size, and/or eating dis/order practice—finds itself out of sync with time: that is, how the project’s storytellers are refused or engage in acts of refusing available futurities and instead construct and live subversive temporalities. In the authors’ range of examples, they show and value how Through Thick and Thin storytellers, and by extension persons with queer and non-normative embodiments, live and move through and in effect, re-make time.

Pedagogical possibilities for unruly bodies

Authors: Carla Rice, Eliza Chandler, Kirsty Liddiard, Jen Rinaldi, Elisabeth Harrison

Project Re•Vision uses disability arts to disrupt stereotypical understandings of disability and difference that create barriers to healthcare. In this paper, we examine how digital stories produced through Re•Vision disrupt biopedagogies by working as body-becoming pedagogies to create non-didactic possibilities for living in/with difference. We engage in meaning making about eight stories made by women and trans people living with disabilities and differences, with our interpretations guided by the following considerations: what these stories ‘teach’ about new ways of living with disability; how these stories resist neoliberalism through their production of new possibilities for living; how digital stories wrestle with representing disability in a culture in which disabled bodies are on display or hidden away; how vulnerability and receptivity become ‘conditions of possibility’ for the embodiments represented in digital stories; and how curatorial practice allows disability-identified artists to explore possibilities of ‘looking back’ at ableist gazes.