When making a film exploring disability and technology, Regan Brashear explored the central question millions of people face every day — does someone with a disability need to be fixed?
It’s not only a question for her movie — Fixed: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement — but one being raised through numerous forms of artistic expression during the upcoming Tangled London event.
Taking place at several locations from March 3-5, Tangled London marks the second year the Tangled Art + Disability organization has brought its touring multi-media exhibition to the Forest City.
The program includes visual arts, live music, film and a movement workshop engaging arts and disability communities.
Brashear’s film will serve as one of the centrepieces of the exhibit.
“There is sort of a debate between distinctly different ways of understanding disability,” said Brashear, who lives with fibromyalgia and chronic pain. “It’s why the film is called Fixed — who or what are we fixing? Is the problem society; is it people’s stigma, a lack of access; or is the problem in my body and I need to be fixed? It’s not totally black and white for anyone in the film.”
At one point in Fixed, multimedia, performance and installation artist Sue Austin is shown scuba diving in her specially equipped wheelchair.
One could assume the message Austin is trying to share is there are no limits on what people living with disabilities can accomplish. Brashear, however, believes the message isn’t quite as inspirational as it is thought provoking.
“I think her hope, which connects with my hope, is that the film is subverting our ideas about disability. It’s slightly different to the no-end, no-limit, the inspirational message,” Brashear said. “It’s more like let’s change how we think about bodies and all the negative stereotypes that have often been attributed to them.”
While technology can be used to provide a better quality of life, she said that’s a different message than the notion science needs to be used to fix someone’s body to achieve a certain societal norm.
Although unable to attend Tangled London, Brashear said she’s thrilled it will be used as part of a discussion around the nature of disability.
Cara Eastcott is excited about it too.
The program director for Tangled Art + Disability, Eastcott is also pleased to be bringing the tour back to London for a second straight year.
Last year, the event was held at King’s University College. This time around, the event has been expanded to multiple locations over three days.
The first day features a visual arts exhibition by Barbara Greene Mann at VibraFusionLab (355 Clarence St.) while Fixed will be shown at the Palace Theatre (710 Dundas St.) on the Friday.
Saturday has two events, including a movement workshop at The ARTS Project (203 Dundas St.) that was developed by choreographer Peggy Baker. She has a background in choreographing for artists in wheelchairs. The evening will feature a concert back at VibraFusionLab by Toronto rapper and hip-hop artist, The Mighty Rhino, who Eastcott describes as being a “very honest, very raw kind of performer.”
Eastcott said in her nearly five years with Tangled, she’s seen perceptions changing, and understandings widening, around the concept of disability art.
Also growing is the idea that the arts need to be accessible, something that certainly isn’t always the case.
But one thing she still wants to see is a growth in disability arts within London.
“If you look at this lineup, there are no artists from London. So, I’m really hoping this draws folks out and we learn about some artists we may not have heard about before,” Eastcott said. “We just have to wait and see, put it out there, and see who comes. It takes years to develop momentum and so if we just deliver programming, people will eventually catch on.”