The Olimpias Performances Research Projects
This poetry book collects the various inquiries initiated in Spherical, Under the Echo, and FEDPP, fed by juicy creative/critical/activist work with the Arnieville Collective, Denise Leto, Amber DiPietra, Eleni Stecopoulos, the Somatic, Writing and Movement symposium, tangos with Stephanie Heit, inquiries with Rob Halpern and the other folks from the non-site collective, Olimpias Summer Retreats in Sierraville, and more.
Screenshot of Detroit Performs/PBS documentary on Petra's practice, shot in an Asylum Project Workshop co-led with Stephanie Heit at LightBox, Detroit.
Lots is coming up in 2016. Catch Olimpias workshops and presentations at:
- Modern Language Association conference, Austin, Texas, January (talks, Petra)
- Eastern Michigan University, Gender, Sexuality and Disability class, Professor Beth Currans, January 28th (Asylum Project workshop with Petra Kuppers and Stephanie Heit)
- Toledo University, Asylums, Prisons, and Total Institutions class, Professor Liat Ben Moshe, February 3rd (Asylum Project workshop with Petra and Stephanie)
- Philosophia (Women/Philosophy/Poetics), UC Denver and UC Boulder, March 11th and 12th (talks, Petra and Stephanie)
- Performing Parts: Gender, Sexuality, Media, Davidson College, North Carolina, April 1st and 2nd (workshop, Petra and Stephanie)
- Poetics: (The Next) 25 Years conference, Buffalo (Somatics/Illness/Disability Strand Leaders: Petra Kuppers and Stephanie Heit), April 8th-10th
- Movement Research, NYC, May 3rd (panel with Kathy Westwater and Marissa Perel, Petra)
Thank you for exciting Asylum Project workshops with disability culture groups in Ohio, Michigan, at the 5 College Dance Department and Hampshire College, in Britain, at the Sex and Disability Conference in Dayton, in Dunedin, Aotearoa/New Zealand, on Manitoulin Island in Canada, and more! More are coming up in 2016. Contact us if you are interested in participating.
An Olimpias workshop with A Different Light Theatre Company in Aotearoa/New Zealand, December 2015.
November 26th to 28th 2015
Moving Communities is an exciting three-day conference that aims to bring together practitioners, academics and students to celebrate the diverse field of community dance. It will provide a forum for re-conceptualising themes and topics, stimulating debates and generating new practices within this domain.
The conference will be co-hosted by the Dance Studies at the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences, and the Caroline Plummer Fellowship in Community Dance Committee.
A pre-conference master class will be facilitated on Wednesday 25 November by Professor Petra Kuppers, a disability culture activist, a community performance artist and a professor at the University of Michigan, and a Caroline Plummer Fellow in 2005.
September 15th to 17th, Saskatchewan, Canada:
Performing Turtle Island brings together established and emerging scholars and artists in the form of a national symposium on how Indigenous theatre and performance are connected to Indigenous identity and community health.
Olimpias London Week, UK, July 6th to 12th 2015:
The Olimpias present: Asylum Project: A London Week
In collaboration with the Disability Research Centre and the Centre for Arts and Learning, Goldsmiths University of London
Our Asylum collaborative inquiry explores multiple meanings of "asylum:" from asylum seekers and the limits of Empire, to psychiatric asylums and queer sanctuary space, to temporary places of security and refuge. In this summer week, we’ll use movement, writing and resource texts to investigate how bodyminds inhabit, touch and intersect asylum space. This work draws on our personal histories: Stephanie Heit’s experience as a psychiatric system survivor and Petra Kuppers’ experience with arts practice as a mode of inquiry in disability culture. We inform our investigation with pages from I, Little Asylum by Emmanuelle Guattari, which poetically chronicles her childhood growing up in the French psychiatric asylum Le Borde, and a page here or there from feminist theorists Sara Ahmed, Mel Chen and Alison Kafer.
Feel free to join us for one session or for all. Open outdoor exploration, experimental access: we find out together what works for those of us who assemble. We tweak our improvisation scores and modes of engagement in ways that allows us to be with one another and to share experiences. No prep necessary (apart from the Thursday research seminar, where we’re asking participants to read a short chapter from Studying Disability Arts and Culture). Please email us at email@example.com to check in, so we have a sense of numbers.
Monday July 6th, 2-5 Greenwich Park/Royal Observatory.
Site of Empire time and the prime meridian. Let’s play in the park. Meet up in the lobby of the National Maritime Museum (free entry, accessible restrooms). We’ll see if we can get up the hill together, or where exactly on the site we’ll play.
Tuesday July 7th, 2-5 old site of the Glass Bar, London’s lesbian bar, between Euston Street Station and the Quaker’s Friends House.
Sanctuary/refuge/queer/safety in transit. Meet up in the Friends’ café, 173 Euston Road (free entry, accessible restroom).
Thursday July 9th – Seminar with Professor Rob Imrie’s Research Group, 2-5:
Embodiment/Movement/Design: An Arts-Based Research Seminar
Room 326, Professor Stuart Hall Building, Goldsmiths University of London. (free entry, accessible restrooms)
In this experiential workshop, we will look together at ways in which disability culture approaches can enhance our practices. How can we reclaim simulation exercises, shifting them away from simulation and toward stimulation? How can we explore the generative and creative potentials of our different senses and our forms of locomotion, our rhythms, our spatialities and our breaths?
Our session will involve collaborative space travel, likely outdoors. We will go on a journey together, and then discuss the format and its applicability to questions of design and community practice.
In preparation for the seminar, please read the short Embodiment/Enmindment chapter from Studying Disability Arts and Culture (Palgrave, 2014, chapter available from organizers).
Sign up here (free): http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/embodimentmovementdesign-an-arts-based-research-seminar-tickets-12738411933
Friday July 10th, 2-5 Bethlem Museum of the Mind, Bethlem Royal Hospital, Beckenham
We’ll meet at the newly (2015) opened museum of old Bedlam/new Bethlem, on the hospital grounds (free entry/accessible restrooms).
We acknowledge that for some of us, visiting a psychiatric hospital site is fraught, and we’ll come up together with a protective and supportive score.
Saturday July 11th, 2-5 South Bank River Meander, starting at Adopting Britain exhibit, ending at Tate Modern.
Walk along the river with us, and let’s find our hollows, halls, and underpasses. With optional refreshments at Gabriel’s Wharf or the British Film Institute (whatever your flavors of escape). Let’s meet at 2 in the Adopting Britain exhibit, Spirit Level at Royal Festival Hall, about immigration and the UK (free entry, accessible restrooms).
Sunday July 12th, 4pm: Performance/Sharing, Center for Arts and Learning, 310 NX Road Gallery.
310 New Cross Road (free entry, accessible restroom two doors down)
Come and see what we’ve worked on, what we’ve learned, what we wish for, from our week exploring summery London in our Asylum query. Let’s talk disability culture and art experimentation, university research and collaborative inquiry.
Who we are – Olimpias Collaborators
Petra Kuppers is a disability culture activist, a community performance artist, and a Professor at the University of Michigan. She also teaches on Goddard College’s Low Residency MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts. She leads The Olimpias, a performance research collective (www.olimpias.org). Her Disability Culture and Community Performance: Find a Strange and Twisted Shape (Palgrave, 2011, paperback 2013) explores The Olimpias’ arts-based research methods. She is the author of a new textbook, Studying Disability Arts and Culture: An Introduction (Palgrave, 2014).
Stephanie Heit is an artist living with bipolar disorder who engages with herself and the world through multiple creative practices: movement as a dancer and massage therapist and words as a poet and teacher. She received a BA in Dance and MFA in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University. Awarded a Poetry Fellowship from the Colorado Council on the Arts, her work has been published in Nerve Lantern, Bombay Gin, Dunes Review, One Less Magazine, For Immediate Release, and is forthcoming in Midwestern Gothic and Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance.
The Olimpias (www.olimpias.org) is an artists’ collective, founded in 1996 in Wales during work with mental health system survivors, with artistic director Petra Kuppers. Associates come from across the world, with a current US center. We create collaborative, research-focused environments open to people with physical, emotional, sensory and cognitive differences and their allies. In these environments, we can explore pride and pain, attention and the transformatory power of touch. The Olimpias is disability-led, and non-disabled allies are always welcome.
February 3rd to 6th:
New publication about the event!
All events at Duderstadt Video Performance Studio, UM North Campus, unless otherwise marked
Events generally open to the public are marked. If there is a particular session you wish to participate in beyond these, please contact us, and we can send you readings to prepare for particular sessions.
Tuesday 3rd of February
2pm Welcome. Introductions.
Set-up of Sandie Yi’s Communal Sewing Corner: a good place to assemble and chill, observing workshops and spending breaks
4-6: OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Bree Hadley, Contemporary Performance and Disability in Australia and beyond.
Presentation by Eliza Chandler and Lindsay Fisher: Crip Interiors Exhibit: about a Toronto Disability Arts Exhibit (45 mins). Open discussion.
Wednesday 4th of February
10-11 Stephanie Heit: Warm-Up: Contemplative Movement Practice (with Writing Option). Bring a journal to write in, or art supplies if you like to draw.
11.30-1 Maricela DeMirjyn: Workshop: Critical Disability Counter-Stories
2.30-4 Bree Hadley Performance Workshop: Unfamiliar Destinations
4.15-5.30 Irene Loughlin Participatory Performance: "What are we waiting for?" (location somewhere in the Duderstadt Complex)
Thursday 5th of February
10-11.30 Sandie Yi performance development, with Cheryl Kaplan Zachariah and Ryan Parrey (first hour development with mini-group, then sharing with fellow participants at 11am).
11.45 -12.45 (class visits with us) Bronwyn Preece performance/writing workshop: …emBODYing the poetry of…
12.45-2.30 Lunch Break, with Bronwyn Preece performance (location to be confirmed)
2.30-3.30 Rebekah Taussig workshop: life writing
3.45-5.30 Petra Kuppers’s Cloud Nine Social Somatic followed by Final Sharing Prep
Friday 6th of February
10-1 OPEN TO THE PUBLIC Poster-Session in Studio: posters will be accessible to the public throughout the morning.
11-12.30 Public Sharing (in Studio). Any sharings that have been developed, discussions, rituals.
Februrary 12th 2015, NYC, College Art Association:
WCA/CAA PANEL | THE DIFFERENCE DISABILITY MAKES: DISABILITY, COMMUNITY, AND ART
Hilton NY, 3rd Fl, East Ballroom
Chair: Petra Kuppers, University of Michigan
The Space in Between
Chanika Svetvilas, Goddard College
Art and Design with Care
Brian Goldfarb, University of California, San Diego
Appropriating Mad Stories in Community Arts: Conforming to a Neoliberal Agenda of Biomedical Mental Health Literacy
Jenna Allison Reid, York University
Curating Raw Beauty
Elizabeth Van Arragon, Calvin College
When Pain Eats the Picture
Riva B. Lehrer, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
The Salamander Project: Participatory Performance Practices and Disability Culture
Petra Kuppers, University of Michigan
Evening, New York Institute for Technology:
Women's Caucus for the Arts LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD AND PRESIDENT’S AWARD CEREMONY
2015 Lifetime Achievement Awardees
Friday, February 13th 2015
Olimpias Social Somatic, as part of an evening of DIS - Video and Performance Art, Dixon Place, NYC, 7.30, Mainstage
Saturday, February 15th:
Westbeth Gallery Opening: Transforming Community: Disability, Diversity and Acces, Juror Petra Kuppers
Artists: Carolyn Applegate, Salma Arastu, Elizabeth Bowler, A. Laura Brody, Linda Button, Belinda Chlouber, Laurie Edison, Stephanie Eley, Christine Giancola, Susan Harmon, Ludmila Ketslakh, Stacy Koffman, Beth Lakamp, Riva Lehrer, Irene Loughlin, Sandra Mueller, Priscilla Otani, Bronwyn Preece, Linda Pearlman Karlsberg, Sondra Schwetman, Bonnie J. Smith, Carolyn Owen Sommer, Lisa Steichmann, Chanika Svetvilas, Leigh Toldi, Chun-Shan (Sandie) Yi.
February 27th 2015, UC Berkeley:
10.00-5.00: The one-day event will convene scholar-practitioners Marianne Constable (Rhetoric, UC Berkeley), Galen Cranz (Architecture, UC Berkeley), Michael Lucey (French & Comparative Literature, UC Berkeley), and Petra Kuppers (English, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), to share their reflections on the relationship between their involvement in body-mind practices and their scholarly, learning, and teaching practices. This event will generate critical conversation around ways to expand explorations of how putative divides such as mind/body, writing/moving, inner/outer, subject/object shape and are shaped by our embodied practices of thinking, researching, writing, and moving.
The event will begin with morning practical workshops in Iyengar yoga (Professor Lucey), the Feldenkrais Method (Professor Constable), The Alexander Technique (Professor Cranz), and social somatics/participatory performance (Professor Kuppers). In the afternoon, following a roundtable discussion with graduate students, we will hold a panel discussion and Q&A with the symposium participants. The event will culminate in a catered reception. The morning workshops are open to the Berkeley campus community (pre-registration required due to participant cap), and the panel discussion and reception are open to the broader Bay Area community. All events are free.
March 5-6, 2015:
March 31st 2015, Ann Arbor:
Metaformance Studies- 6th international METABODY Conference,
Affordances of Symbiosis - Rethinking interaction and the immeasurable potential of the body in the age of ubiquitous computing.
- rethinking digital/physical affordances in the posthuman/cybernetic era
- digital affordances, ubiquitous surveillance and control - affordances of capture and prediction
- digital affordances and movement capture/reduction - the interface
- digital affordances and affective production - emoticon culture and ubiquitous commercial music
- Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, AI, robotics, videogaming - affordances of simulation
- screens, keyboards, mouses, cameras - expanding the renaissance paradigm & control affordances
- visual affordances and the fixation of perception
- manual affordances and subjective control
- ubiquitous computing and mobile devices - invisible affordances of control
- perceptual history of digital affordances, from Greek theatre architecture and Euclidean geometry, to Renaissance perspective, cameras, mechanism and information.
- wearables, internet of things, smart homes and the new landscape of digital affordances - the new revolution of control and ubiquitous surveillance
- genetics and epigenetics as evolutionary potentials for interaction
- embodiment in the digital era - software and hardware as embodied affordances
- perceptual affordances and sensory hierarchies: vision, hearing, touch, crossmodal and multimodal approaches
- enactive cognition and affordance theories
- affordances and embodied knowledge
- interaction and intra-action in affordance-design
- towards a new ecology of affordances - ethics of perception beyond visual domination
- diffuse/indeterminate affordances and openended relational ecologies
- towards an architecture of indeterminate affordances
- non-functional design, indeterminate architecture and diffuse affordances
- interaction, palpability and synaesthesia
- affordances of crossmodal sensing
- interactive environments and inclusion
is a disability culture activist, a community performance artist, and a widely recognized author. She is a professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she teaches performance studies and disability studies, and she is on the faculty of Washington Statet's Goddard College MFA program in Interdisciplinary Arts. She is the Artistic Director of The Olimpias, an artists' collective that creates collaborative, research-focused environments open to people with physical, emotional, sensory and cognitive differences and their allies. Her book about The Olimpias arts-based research practices, "Disability Culture and Community Performance: Find a Strange and Twisted Shape," won the biennial Sally Banes Award from the American Association for Theatre Research.
A day of engagement by faculty, graduate students, staff and affiliates, with guest Carrie Sandahl: how can we shape more accessible education environments for ourselves and for new members of the university community?April 11th 2015, Grand Rapids:
(collaborative practice with Sharon Siskin and Stephanie Heit)
2014 continues to be full and rich. Too any gigs to keep gig lists this year - I've been on the road in the UK, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand/Aotearoa, all over the US and elsewhere for most of 2014, so there've been wonderful meetings and encounters, in artist residencies and in visits with disability culture companies around the world. For an account of some of these travels, see forthcoming work in TDR: The Drama Review.
We are particularly glad to find accessible artist residenices: check out the Bundanon Trust in Australia, or Playa in Oregon.
Check out The Olimpias at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, talking with DisArts director Chris Smit about contemporary disability art:
Here are a few glimpses of A Christchurch Masquerade: development weeks with A Different Light Company in Christchurch, Aotearoa/New Zealand, March 2014.
From our actions in the City Center, reimagining the rubble fields:
There will continue to be a lot of Salamanders in our Olimpias future, as there continues to be great interests, both for one-on-one performance experiences and for the larger participatory performances. Upcoming Salamanders: December 28th, Richmond Plunge, in Desert Hot Springs, early January (part of Rancho Paradiso residency), at Hagebadet, Gotenburg (part of residency with Dancebyran), late January, at University of Hawai'i at Manoa in mid-February, Christchurch, New Zealand, in late February, at Bundandon Trust Artist Residency, Australia, in March. If you are anywhere near these lovely regions mentioned here, and want to participate, just email petra (at) umich.edu for details.
May Update: Salamanders galore, indeed. From UC San Diego to SUNY Stonybrook, we've taken to the waters this year. Join us for one at the Society for Disability Studies in Minneapolis in June, too! And check out the Theatre for Social Change pre-conference for ATHE in Arizona, the Disability Performance working group meetings at IFTR in Warwick, and then another Swedish Salamander in Gothenburg, with integrated dance company Spinn. Other talks include work at the University of Regina in Canada, presentations at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, and presentations at new art spaces opening in Detroit.
Check out our Salamander Exhibit in Lane Hall/Women's Studies Department, University of Michigan, June - December 2014. News from the exhibit:
Wonderful news about one of our Olimpias associates (the artist collective exhibiting the Salamander Project in UM's Lane Hall right now). The poem that opens our exhibit, part of "Lake as Body" by Denise Leto just won the 2014 Orlando Prize for Women's Poetry.
You can read it (or touch it in Braille) on the first floor of the Women's Studies Department, and you can find Denise Leto floating amidst the other images of disabled people underwater. Come and visit with her and us, take one of the small screens off the wall, settle on the cushions we provide, and enjoy spending time in suspension. If you want to hear audio descriptions and meditations on the images, collected by University of Michigan students, ask for the headset held in the Women's Studies administrative suite.
Our San Diego Presentation of Salamander is up online (without subtitles, though):
In 2015, the Salamander Exhibit is traveling to Grand Rapids, and will be at Calvin College from March to May, part of the DisArts Festival.
In April, in time for the Bay Area Dance Week, we'll begin developing a new project.
- Social Somatics: Performance, Embodiment, Politics (Journey to the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin and WEFT participatory performances, Helping Dances summer series, Salamander series)
- Feminism, Embodiment, Disability, Poetry, Performance (FEDPP): a practice-as-research project supported by the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, University of Michigan. (includes research article, Spherical soundpoem, with Misha Penton; Under the Echo chapbook, with Lisa Steichmann; and a sculptural installation project with Sadashi Inuzuka)
- Indigeneity/Disability/Fictocriticism/Performance (Jan 2013 practice-as-research symposium: Native Women Language Keepers) Documentation Video: Madweziibing
A Radiant Approaching, 3 mins, 2013 (audio described version, and second audio description version (focusing on the words projected onto skin, and creating sound effects to go along with audio description), both versions created by Melissa Herskowitz, Adrienne Chiu, and Lacie Turnbell. English 317: Disability Culture, Fall 2013 class, University of Michigan)
A meditation on language, skin, speech difference, and communication. Fragments of longing, belonging and being in place, with lines of Robert Kelly's Mont Blanc, Linda Norton's The Public Gardens, and James Thomas Stevens' and Caroline Sinavaiana's collaboration Mohawk/Samoa: Transmigrations.
Madweziibing - Music Rivering. 10 mins, 2013
This video was created as part of the Native Women Language Keepers symposium organized by Margaret Noodin and Petra Kuppers at the University of Michigan, in February 2012. It features the symposium fellows, people engaged in Anishinaabemowin/Ojibwe and Niimipuu/Nez Perce language revitalization through the arts, and short scenes fellows worked on, by Heid Erdrich, Howard Kimewon and Margart Noodin, as well as the Miskwaasining Nagamojig/Swamp Singers, an Ann Arbor-based hand-drum group, and paintings by Daphne Odjig. The symposium fellows are introducing each other, respectfully citing Maori mihimihi (formal introduction) to center indigenous ways of doing in a community that did not share any one cultural form.
Neil Marcus' Special Effects, 9 mins, 2013
More than a document of the early days of the disability rights movement, Neil Marcus' collection Special Effects: Advances in Neurology is also a window into California zine culture of the 1980s. Art in revolution: social justice, the human growth movement, art in the everyday. From flourishing dystopia to speech storms, Neil documents living artfully in Berkeley, California, and in Disabled Country. Link to free online reading commons where you can read and annotate the whole book: www.publicationstudio.biz/books/93.
Disability/Culture: Research in Motion, 22 mins, 2012 (audio described version, created by students in English 317: Disability Culture, Fall 2013 class, University of Michigan)
What does disability culture mean to you? Are there many disability cultures? Watch some of our answers, recorded during three days of workshops and discussions at the University of Michigan Initiative on Disability Studies Spring Conference 2012: Disability/Culture: An Arts-Based Research Symposium. We explored Embodiment/Enmindment/Aesthetic Access/Interdependence /Community. With additional material recorded at the Olimpias Disability Culture Summer Retreat 2012.
Keynote: Olimpias art practice, at Reelabilities Film Festival, Columbus, Ohio, October
Salamanders all summer long, all over the place, incluing at Performance Studies international, Stanford, June, the International Federation for Theatre Research, Barcelona, August, and the American Society for Theatre Research, Dallas, November.
Keynote for Disability Studies section, Pacific Rim Conference on Disability and Diversity, Hawai'i, April
Helping Dance participatory performance, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, April
Death to the Puzzle Piece - Anti-Autism Awareness Week perfomrance action, with Melanie Yergeau and Neil Marcus, Michigan, April
Keynote at Corpo(realities) Graduate Symposium, Indiana University, March
Presentation for Eastern Michigan University's Women's History Month,March 14th: The Anarcha Project
Muriel Rukeyser conference, March - WEFT
Access Living and Bodies of Work: Disability Culture Salon: The Olimpias, Chicago, March 8th - talk and Helping Dance
Eco-Poetics conference, Berkeley, February - talk and Helping Dance
Throughout the summer, Bay Area: Helping Dances performance actions, public parks
Disability Culture and Community Performance: Find a Strange and Twisted Shape (Palgrave, 2011) and Somatic Engagement (Chainlinks, 2011, at Small Press Distribution table) at MLA Seattle, January 2012
January 26th: Neil Marcus and Petra Kuppers: International Disability Culture presentation, Global Scholars community, Rackham Auditorium, University of Michigan
January 27th: Neil Marcus and Petra Kuppers: Olimpias workshop as part of Sexpertise: conversations about relationships, communication, sex and sexual health, University of Michigan
January 31st to February 2nd: Disability/Culture symposium, University of Michigan
February 16-18th: WEFT Olimpias participatory performance as part of Queering Dance Congress on Dance Research conference, University of Michigan
February 27th: CounterPulse, SF: Dance Discourse Project #12. Shifting ground: examining the complex terrain at the intersection of dance and aging. Roundtable with Jess Curtis and Mary Armentrout.
February 28th: Somatic Engagement reading at Pegasus Bookstore, Berkeley
March 16-18: Festival of the Moving Body, SUNY Stonybrook
March 20th: Somatic Engagement reading, University of Michigan
April 13-14: English Language Notes conference, 'Shape of the I,' curated by Julie Carr, University of Colorado at Boulder
May 18-20: WEFT at Open Engagement, Portland, OR
Society for Disability Studies, Denver, June: WEFT performance and a paper on the FEDPP project
The Aging Body in Dance. – Zur Ästhetik und Politik des Körpers im Vergleich von europäisch-amerikanischen und japanischen Tanzkulturen. June 28th to 30th, Freie Universitat Berlin.
First week of July: meeting with disability studies scholars, activists and artists in Cologne, Germany
3rd Olimpias Summer Retreat, Harbin Hot Springs, July 13th-15th
July 30th to August 5th: Keynote at Theatre for Social Change/Interactive Theatre Preconference, Association for Theatre in Higher Education conference, Washington D.C.
October 30th-31st: Keynote, Arts Activated, Sydney, Australia
November: California College for the Arts, Community Arts Graduate Seminar
Are you currently, or have you ever been a manual laborer in a factory? Has someone in your immediate family? Among your elders? In your wider social field? What were some of the physical actions you, your family member or someone else touching your life engaged in? How do they relate to you now? These are the questions that will lead us into a new Social Somatics action set at the San Francisco Art Institute, December 2nd 2011, noon, in the courtyard, as we'll trial run The Olimpias' WEFT participatory performance.
The Olimpias WEFT action set emerges from my experiences as a family member of people who worked in textile factories. I am noting often how unaware many people are about how material is actually made: jersey, cotton, or the kind of contemporary synthetics that make up the clothes most of us wear every day. In this action, I wish to not just draw attention to this estranged relationship to an everyday material and its mode of production, but to actively intervene into it, by changing participants? embodied relationship to their clothes. I hope to offer experiences that make items strange, offer some space between cloth and skin. The actions aims to activate connections between sensuality, sexuality, gender performance, care and clothes ? in particular when we check each other?s labels, get involved with each other?s bodily boundaries, all common actions for many disabled people and carers. Together, we place ourselves into different spatial registers of intimacy, near and far, local and global.
Disability narratives are part of this in many ways. My grandfather was my opening into the factory: he was the night watchman, having lost a leg in the war, and his gait on the concrete floor is part of my sensory memory. I remember well how I as a child dove into large chemically smelling carts of fabric remnants, how I played under industrial looms, and made pocket money in the factory. I remember burning my fingers into blisters when my job on the assembly line included smearing hot glue onto car door fabric. And I remember the cigarette smoke and the alcohol fumes that accompanied the breaks for the assembly line crew, industrial accidents, vibration syndrome and its effects on manual dexterity. Together, and interdependently, helping each other, we will weave these memories and participants' experiences into a new globally aware fabric.
The actual performance consists of a number of participatory actions, with accessibility woven into the instructions. If the weather permits, we'll do the actions outdoors. At the end, there is a sharing circle.
Somatic Engagement: the politics and publics of embodiment. Edited by community artist, scholar, and dancer Petra Kuppers (author of Disability Culture and Community Performance), the book opens with Arnieville, a Californian protest camp of disability, homelessness, and poverty activists. From there, a series of enactments welcome trespass and incursion in the name of survival. Amy Sara Carroll on the Transborder Immigrant Tool, a GPS phone that uses poetry to lead the disoriented and thirsty to water caches and safety sites in the US-Mexican borderlands. Devora Neumark on washing Tali Goodfriend’s hands in Lebanese olive oil outside the hotel where Colin Powell speaks to the Jewish National Fund, hands gliding over one another in the middle of an angry public protest. Christian Nagler on writing an experimental novel while conducting an oral history of agricultural labor practices and migration patterns at the site of the Panamerican Highway in El Salvador. Georgina Kleege on touch and blindness as she discusses Katherine Sherwood’s paintings of magic and the human brain, paintings that Sherwood began after her stroke ten years ago. Eleni Stecopoulos on the healing quest as research and the complexities of cultural appropriation. Amber DiPietra and Denise Leto on the collaborative connections of breath, body, pause, pain, and form. Somatic Engagement is an exploration of how relation and support play out in breaths, steps, and touch.
128 pages; 12 color plates
Free PDF of Introduction
Can be ordered at Small Press Distribution.
Green Arcade, SF, December 15th 2011
Pegasus Book Store, Berkeley, February 28th 2012
As part of Disability/Culture graduate class, University of Michigan, March 20th 2012
The introduction is available for free on-line: it starts in an AXIS workshop, and visits with the 2008 Sins Invalid performance, locating Olimpias work in its local performance cultures. Wtih love to all our disability culture friends... The posted PDF is without footnotes. If you'd like to receive the footnotes and can't order the book for your local library, please contact us, and we're glad to provide the notes.
with water burns sun (Butoh inspired dancevideo, 2009)
Journey to the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin (participatory performance, 2011)
Cripple Poetics: A Love Story (poetry performance, 2010)
also on YouTube, earlier Olimpias videos:
Earth Stories (work with mental health system survivors)
Geometries (young adults, public installation video projected on city walls in central Manchester)
Disabled Lilacs (speech difference and poetics)
This year, catch Olimpias performances, workshops and lectures at the
Olimpias at Word and Deeds, February 28th, Kunststoff, SF
Olimpias at the Movement, Somatics and Writing Symposium, Feb 17th to 19th, 2011, University of Michigan
MIT Dance and Technology meet-up (April 22nd to 24th)
Bay Area National Dance Week (Somatics/Expression series, 4 weeks starting April 26h, Subterranean Arthouse, 7-9)
Open Engagement, Portland (May 13th-15th)
Performance Studies international, Utrecht, NL (May 25th to 29th)
4-day workshop on experimental community performance, Dance Bar, Goteburg, May 31st to June 3rd
performance at Goteborg LGBTQ festival, June 3rd
Society for Disability Studies (San Jose, June 15th to 18th)
West Coast Contact Festival (Berkeley, July 5th to 10th)
Dance Camp - an Unconference (The Garage, SF, July 9th)
American Dance Festival (Durham/Duke, July 12th)
International Federation of Theatre Research (Osaka, Japan, August 7th to 10th)
one day workshop and performance at Levier, Montreal, CA (September 9th and 10th)
residency at Bucknell College, PA (last two weeks in September)
Beauty is a Verb reading at Work Gallery, Ann Arbor, November 9th
FEDPP workshop at the National Women Studies Association Conference, Atlanta, November 12th
WEFT performance action at SF Art Institute, December 2nd
Somatic Engagement Launch Party, Green Arcade, SF, December 15th
Cripple Poetics at California State University San Marcos, December 8th
November 24th: Cripple Poetics performance at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
November 25th: International Disability Culture: Sharing Resources. Lecture at the Donald Beasley Institute, University of Otago.
Master Classes in Disability Culture Dance, Dunedin, New Zealand, Dance Department, 23rd and 24th of November.
November 19th: Disability and Dance: a Networking Meeting. Christchurch, New Zealand.
Faculty Seminars & Masterclasses with
Associate Professor Petra Kuppers, University of Michigan, fellow at the Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University
Queensland University of Technology
Creative Industries Faculty, and Creative Industries Faculty Equity Committee,
invite you to attend one or more of a series of seminars and masterclasses with
visiting scholar Petra Kuppers.
SEMINAR – “Community Arts: Practices, Processes, and Challenges”
Petra Kuppers (University of Michigan) and Brad Haseman (QUT)
Monday 4th October 2010, Z2 The Hall
In this seminar, Petra Kuppers and Brad Haseman will discuss community arts and cultural practices, shifting paradigms and processes for engaging diverse communities in arts and cultural practices, and the challenges faced in creating innovative, experimental work which engages with themes of health, communication and culture.
Time: 4pm-6pm, Monday 4th October 2011
Venue: Z2-226 The Hall, Level 2, Z Block, Creative Industries Precinct, QUT
RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, 1 October 2010.
SEMINAR – “Inclusivity in Creative Arts Education”
Petra Kuppers (University of Michigan), student respondents Kate Lanigan, Ange Ackerly and Anja Homburg, chaired by Bree Hadley (QUT)
Tuesday 5th October 2010, Z2 The Hall
In this seminar, presented by the Creative Industries Faculty Equity Committee, Petra Kuppers will discuss issues in relation to inclusivity in creative arts education, including pedagogical conventions, institutional, staff and student expectations, and the creation of physically, psychologically and socially safe pedagogical spaces.
Time: 12pm-1pm, Tuesday 5th October 2011
Venue: Z2-226 The Hall, Level 2, Z Block, Creative Industries Precinct, QUT
RSVP: email@example.com by Friday, 1 October 2010.
“Journey to the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin – A Participatory Score”
Petra Kuppers and Neil Marcus (The Olimpias)
Wednesday 6th October 2010, OC 406
A co-created ritual, and a nourishing re-imagining of memorialisation, this participatory performance score focuses on the Peter Eisenman Memorial in Germany, and the lawsuits that surrounded it – the disabled people of Germany sued for disability access to the site, and lost.
Participants will approach these topics, and the emotions, experiences and memories they raise for each person, through doing, together, and through a sharing circle. The co-created experience will unique to the group of people who gather in this specific moment, and in this specific location, to participate.
The Masterclass, followed by a discussion with Petra and Neil, will offer scholars and artists interested in community arts, disability arts, disability culture, trauma, memory and history a unique opportunity to engage with this performance score, and the methods developed by The Olimpias.
Time: 10am-1pm, Wednesday 6th October 2010
Venue: OC 406, Level 4, O Block, Kelvin Grove Campus QUT
RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, 1 October 2010 – places limited.
Petra Kuppers is a disability culture activist, a community artist, an award-winning writer, and Artistic Director of The Olimpias. Petra was a fellow in Community Dance at the University of Otago, New Zealand, a research fellow in Contemporary Arts at Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK, an artist-in-residence at Tramway Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, Scotland; at SymbioticA in Perth, Australia; the San Francisco Poetry Center; and at many more universities and art centers in the US, Europe and beyond. She was named a life-time member of the national UK Millennium Awards Fellowship 'for talented individuals who strengthen and enrich their communities.' This year, Petra is at the Australian National University in Canberra, working with fellow disabled artists. Petra has written extensively on disability and dance, community performance, embodied poetics, and contemporary performance aesthetics, and she teaches at the University of Michigan in the United States.
Neil Marcus is an icon in US disability culture. In the 1980s and 90s, he performed his stage show "Storm Reading" over 300 times all over the US, the UK and Canada. Parts of it were on Maria Shriver's Sunday Today Show. Neil has also written and performed other plays in the SF Bay Area, and is a frequent guest in Butoh and Contact Improv Festivals. His poetry has found its way to many people, on the back of fridge magnets, policy statements for NGOs, university reading lists, and many people's private stash of important things to know about life. Neil is still recognized in the street for his role in an episode of ER. Mainly, though, Neil engages in his own street theatre show, singing, clowning and performing in the everyday. His book of poems, Cripple Poetics: A Love Story, co-written with Petra Kuppers and with photos by Lisa Steichmann, appeared in 2008 with Homofactus Press.
The Olimpias is an artists' collective and a performance research series. The artists explore art/life, cross-genre participatory practices, arts for social change and disability culture work. The award-winning Olimpias installations, performances, dance videos and workshops have been presented internationally, and have recently explored such topics as slavery medicine, contemporary health care inequalities and art practice; sensuality, aging and disability; cross-cultural disability conceptions and notions of beauty in Butoh performance. Olimpias work addresses its audiences directly, and engages them gently and with care, to create a more inclusive future together.
October 13th: ' Performance Studies Seminar, University of New South Wales, Sydney:
Research Talk: Butoh/Dance/Sensation: The Chorus of Performance Writing'
This meditation on somatic writing shares the touch of trembling muscles, of choreography. Choreo, khoreia: chorus. Graphy, graphia: writing, as reassembling, as reterritorializing.
October 15th: Participant in What Can Fictocritical Writing Do? Australian Association of Writing Programs workshop, University of New South Wales, Sydney
October 19th: School of Critical Inquiry, Australian National University,
Drama Studio, 12-1.30, Olimpias Performance: Journey to the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin
October 29th: Humanities Research Institute, Australian National University,
1-2.30: Research Talk: International Disability Culture
Note to friends in the Southern Hemisphere: From September 1st till December 5th 2010, Petra Kuppers and Neil Marcus will be on a trip in Australia, on a fellowship at the Australian National University in Canberra. Planned trips include visits to Sydney, to Adelaide, to Horsham for the Awakenings Festival, and to Darwin, for the Australian Disability and Development Consortium conference, September 15th-17.
Olimpias Events August 2010:
Madrona MindBody Institute, Fort Worden, Port Townsend, WA, in collaboration with Goddard College
Journey to the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. Participatory Performance (and discussion) with The Olimpias: Neil Marcus and Petra Kuppers
Two performances on Thursday, August 26, 4:30-6pm and 7:30-9pm
at Madrona MindBody Institute
In these performances, we will co-create a ritual experience, a nourishing re-imagining of memorialisation. Embodied memory, experimental community art, personal investment, engagement and comfort, approaching difficult topics from a place of richness, activating ourselves towards future(s). We'll approach these topics through doing, together, and through a sharing circle.
August 13th: Olimpias performance as part of Bare Bones Butoh Presents Showcase 18, 8 pm, Studio 210.
August 8th: Feminism/Disability/Embodiment/Poetry mini-research symposium
Olimpias Events July 2010:
Olimpias mini-workshops/one on ones by Olimpias collaborators, as part of ADA celebration, San Francisco City Hall, July 26th, 12-3.
2nd Olimpias Summer Camp, Sierra Hot Springs, 22nd to 25th of July.
This year, we are once again off to Sierra Hot Springs, driving up in two cars from the Bay Area on Thursday, 22nd of July, one leaving in the morning, one later. We'll meet at Sand Harbor State Park on Lake Tahoe, a wonderful and accessible place in a gorgeous spot. From there, we're off to Sierra Hot Springs, about 40 mins away, and we'll put up tents together. There are other local places to sleep if tenting is not your bag.
Friday and Saturday, we'll hang out in hot springs, massage each other and do other body, mind and soul work, and create small art workshops for each other (so far, we have gentle dance work, visual art/painting, poetry and fiber arts/costume making). There is space for all of us, and we will practice respect and love. There's also plenty of time to just hang out and do your own art thing, working on your personal project. This is a time for recharging, for community building, and for dreaming. On Sunday, we're once again off to Sand Harbor and a cooling swim, and then it's time to go back home.
The retreat programming is free and welcoming to all. The camping fee is $27.50 per person per night (which includes use of all facilities), day rate is $20 if you are not staying overnight. Food is available at the Camp. Access issues will be dealt with communally, and people with different kinds of capacities will be at hand to work out the complexities of crips in nature.
Scholarships of $50 are available for those who need them.
More info: contact Petra at email@example.com
Sierra Hot Springs: http://www.sierrahotsprings.org/
Sand Harbor State Park: http://parks.nv.gov/lt.htm
West Coast Contact Improvisation Festival, Berkeley, 8th Street Studio:
- Olimpias Creative/Expression session as part of Somatics Strand: Saturday, July 3rd, 1.30
- Fundamental Class: Delicious, Sunday July 4th, 2.30-4.30
Enjoy the contact of skin on skin, the gradual release of weight, the deliciousness of touch. We start small, and build from there, and sense each others' beauty. In this class, we will pay attention to breath and the small movements of life, first in ourselves, and then in contact and partnering. We will open up a space where we can share the connections we find, and dance with an audience (of fellow workshop participants).The class will allow you to find not only your own dance, but also expression in the circle of a supportive, small audience: show your ability to connect and be with another in improvisation. Even if you have never shared yourself this way before, you will be safe and welcome. All bodyminds welcome, including people with pain, fatigue and mobility issues.
Performance of 'I am Salmon', Saturday, July 3rd, 8 pm and 10 pm. Poetry by Neil Marcus, Music by Dax Pierson, Sound assembly by Sadie Wilcox, dancers Petra Kuppers and Neil Marcus
Photographs: Nick Kane
Ongoing Olimpias Community Jams, Subterranean Arthouse, Wednesdays, 4-6
Olimpias Events May/June 2010:
June 9th to the 13th: Talks about Olimpias Projects at Performance Studies international, Toronto, CA
June 3rd: Petra performs 'Invagination and the Beloved' at Fabled Asp Crip Salon
May 27th: UC Riverside, Dance Department: Anarcha Workshop/Sharing, 11.10-12.130, P.E. 110
May 25th: Stanford University Dance Department: Journey to the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin
Bare Bones Butoh, May 8th, Studio 210, Cesar Chavez, 8pm, 'Invagination and the Beloved' with Neil Marcus, Sandie Yi and Petra Kuppers.
Olimpias Events April 2010:
The Poetry Center
at San Francisco State University
Thursday APRIL 29 — Saturday MAY 1
THE POETICS OF HEALING
three-day OLIMPIAS ARTISTS RESIDENCY
a series of programs with special guest artists
and disability culture activists
Petra Kuppers • Neil Marcus •
Sadie Wilcox • curated by Eleni Stecopoulos
Thursday April 29, CRIPPLE POETICS: A LOVE STORY
a reading/performance by Petra Kuppers and Neil Marcus
• 3:30 pm @ the Poetry Center
HUM 512, San Francisco State University, free
Friday April 30, EMBODIED POETICS: Visual Arts—Performance Arts
OLIMPIAS ARTIST talks with Petra Kuppers and Sadie Wilcox
• 7:30 pm @ Subterranean Arthouse
2179 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, $10 ($5 student/low income, no one turned away for lack of funds)
Saturday May 1, BURNING workshop and performance
@ Subterranean Arthouse, 2179 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
• Participatory Workshop 2:00–5:00 pm
$10-20 sliding scale ($5 student/low income)
• Performance 7:00 pm
$10 ($5 student/low income)
SFSU students free, no one turned away for lack of funds
We have invited artists and disability culture activists Petra Kuppers, Neil Marcus, and Sadie Wilcox, of the performance collaborative The Olimpias, to lead us in exploring the body of community and the rich poiesis our singular embodiment affords. To rethink and create collaborations between and across art, healing, and somatic practice. To work, as Neil Marcus writes, “with this key idea: disability is not a brave struggle or courage in the face of adversity, disability is an art.”
Come and explore with us the poetics of bodily fantasies in this Olimpias Disability Culture happening. Accept a touch, put words in your mouth in this somatics/expression exploration: what does it feel like to speak of cancer or environmental toxicity? Locate yourself. What happens when bodies change, undergo transformation, expose themselves? What happens as you let images and poetry of poison and healing roll down your veins? Move with us, be moved by us. Gentle movement improvisation, butoh, contact, ritual, video, visual art and poetry.
• PETRA KUPPERS is a disability culture activist, a community artist, Artistic Director of The Olimpias (www.olimpias.org) and Associate Professor of English, Women's Studies, Theatre and Dance, Art and Design, at the University of Michigan. Her books include Disability and Contemporary Performance: Bodies on Edge (Routledge 2003), The Scar of Visibility: Medical Performances and Contemporary Art (University of Minnesota Press, 2007), Community Performance: An Introduction (Routledge, 2007), and, together with Neil Marcus and photographer Lisa Steichmann, the poetry collection Cripple Poetics: A Love Story (Homofactus Press, 2008). http://www-personal.umich.edu/~petra/
• Who is NEIL MARCUS? Neil is an icon in US disability culture. In the 1980s and 90s, he performed his stage show Storm Reading over 300 times all over the US, the UK and Canada. Parts of it were on Maria Shrivers Sunday Today Show. Neil has also written and performed other plays in the SF Bay Area, and is a frequent guest in Butoh and Contact Improv Festivals. His poetry has found its way to many people, on the back of fridge magnets, policy statements for NGOs, university reading lists, and many peoples private stash of important things to know about life. Neil is still recognized in the street for his role in an episode of ER. Mainly, though, Neil engages in his own street theatre show, singing, clowning and performing in the everyday. http://www.olimpias.org
• SADIE WILCOX is an artist and educator in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received her MFA from the University of Michigan School of Art & Design. Her video work has been included in screenings at Harvard University's Carpenter Center for the Arts in Cambridge, the Center for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, and Extravagant Bodies Film Festival in Croatia, Serbia, and Slovenia. She was recipient of the Best Documentary Award at the XII Black International Cinema in Berlin, Germany. Sadie currently serves as Program Manager for BayKids, a nonprofit organization that provides filmmaking opportunities for hospitalized youth. She teaches art in the Community Education Department at the San Francisco Art Institute and works as a teaching artist at the Asian Art Museum. http://www.sadiewilcox.com
• ELENI STECOPOULOS was born in New York, NY. A poet, she is the author of a chapbook, Autoimmunity (Taxt, 2006) and the full-length collection Armies of Compassion (Palm Press, 2010). Her poems and essays have appeared in Chain, Ecopoetics, Harvard Review, Open Letter, Xcp: Cross Cultural Poetics, and the blog of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among other venues. With the Poetry Center at San Francisco State University, she received a two-year grant from the Creative Work Fund, through which she currently curates an interdisciplinary program series and is writing a book on the poetics of healing. She is on the faculty of the Language and Thinking Program at Bard College, and she lives in Berkeley.
THE POETICS OF HEALING
project sponsored by the Poetry Center, San Francisco State University
curated by Eleni Stecopoulos, supported by the Creative Work Fund
Olimpias Events March 2010:
March 19th: Journey to the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin
(presented as part of the
Cultural Studies Association Conference, UC Berkeley), Subterranean Arthouse,
Subterranean Arthouse, 2179 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
Friday, March 19 at 6:30 pm
Friday, March 19 at 8:30 pm
This participatory performance score is a nourishing re-imagining of memorialisation.
It focuses on the Peter Eisenman memorial in Germany, and the lawsuits that
surrounded it: the disabled people of Germany sued for disability access to the site, and lost.
(Journey, University of Michigan February 2010, Photograph Tim Householder)
Saturday March 20th, 2-4, also Subterranean
a reading/performance/improvisation with Denise Leto, Amber DiPietra, Eleni Stecopoulos and Petra Kuppers
Event co-sponsored by the Subterranean Arthouse, the Institute of Research on Women and Gender (University of Michigan), and the Disability Studies Program, University of California, Berkeley.
New essay published on Olimpias experimental performance practice: '“your darkness also/rich and beyond fear”: Community Performance, Somatic Poetics and the Vessels of Self and Other', M/C Journal, Vol. 12, No. 5 (2009) - 'disclose'
Olimpias newsletter December 13, 2009
CA$H Choreography Grant Award!
Theater Bay Area granted Petra $2,500 for her work with the Olimpias on the ‘Journey to the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin’ project.
Pushing Limits radio show
Neil Marcus, Petra Kuppers, Lakshmi Fjord and Amber DiPietra were the focus of an episode entitled ‘Dancing with Disability’, an experimental collage of poetry and performance, on December 4. You can hear it here.
Disability Culture Workshops
with Neil Marcus and Petra Kuppers
Two Sundays, December 20th & 27th, 2009, 3-5 pm
Subterranean Arthouse, 2179 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
Suggested donation: $15, no one turned away for lack of funds
Come and explore with us through movement the fantasies, potentials and tensions of our new Olimpias score. What happens when bodies change, undergo transformation, expose themselves? What happens as you let images and poetry of poison and healing roll down your veins?
No experience necessary, we do not require a commitment to more than one workshop, we honor all forms of embodiment and identification, and we want to learn about access and respect together.
Olimpias residency at University of Michigan
February 9th-12th, 2010
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
In this week, The Olimpias are in residence at the Duderstadt Performance Studio, in conjunction with a Collaboration, Creativity, and Poetry graduate seminar. On one day that week, we will stage 'Journey to the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin' for the camera, and we are looking for community participants for this event. The actual experience is ritualistic, comfortable and comforting (not a downer at all). We have now staged it three times, always with very positive results and repeat invitations. This Duderstadt experience will be specifically set up to be photographed, whereas all other performances of the event aim to be photography-free spaces of immersion and experience.
Journey to the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin
This participatory performance
score is a nourishing re-imagination of memorialisation. It focuses on the Peter
Eisenman memorial in Germany, and the law suits that surrounded it: the disabled
people of Germany sued for disability access to the site, and lost.
Subterreanean Arthouse, 2179 Bancroft (between Fulton and Shattuck, less than 10 mins walk from UC Berkeley). Friday, March 19th, 6.30 and 8.30.
SFSU Poetry Center/Poetics of Healing Olimpias residency
April 29th - May 1st 2010
SFSU Poetry Center
We will create a Burning workshop/performance
More information will be forthcoming
Info about Poetics of Healing:
The Poetics of Healing: creative investigations in art, medicine, and somatic practice
Project curated by ELENI STECOPOULOS
Supported by the CREATIVE WORK FUND
“Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason.”
"We associate the myth of Orpheus with poetry, yet Orpheus also symbolizes the wounded healer. A rich field of correspondence lies between creative and medical practice, in the ways we name, respond to, and treat our conditions, individual and collective. In the Asklepion, the ancient Greek health center, patients were treated with dreams, words, and songs. Poetics refers to theories of making, the art of how things are composed. Healing, too, is an art of composition, the art of making one(self) whole. I look at poetics and healing as sympathetic arts: they both have to do with relation, or how things are connected. They're both arts of the whole.
"Healing my own illness provided me with an extraordinary context in which to explore the body’s poiesis, affording me the gift of having to enter [my] own experiment? (Morris Berman.) Now, with The Poetry Center, I want to create a collective experiment, a public forum where different practices can be put into conversation, to make possible an interdisciplinary exploration of method, scientific and creative, medical and poetic, in ways that might be mutually generative and unexpected.
"What might happen if we asked doctors to look at the art of their practice? What might happen if we asked poets to consider the somatic and therapeutic dimensions of their art? to talk to each other about the words of medicine and the medicine of words?"
- Eleni Stecopoulos
Supported by a two-year project grant from the Creative Work Fund, the Poetry Center presents throughout 2009-2010 a series of programs under the title The Poetics of Healing: creative investigations in art, medicine, and somatic practice. Curated by San Francisco poet and scholar Eleni Stecopoulos, the project brings together innovative writers, artists, and medical practitioners doing parallel work within altogether different traditions and practices.
Guest participants read, perform, and discuss their own work, talk with each other, and engage with audiences. Throughout the project, Eleni Stecopoulos is writing an original book on the subject (incorporating material by other participants and as arising out of the public forum) to be published late 2010 by Factory School.
Update November 2009:
A new Olimpias project, focused on the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. First performance as part of Geographical Assemblage: Mythological Landscapes of the Body, 27th November, Subterranean Arthouse, Berkeley
Purgatory Possible Projects at ArtsLab, Arts and Bodies, November 5th and 6th, 9.30 - 4.30, Duderstadt Video Performance Studio, University of Michigan, free and open to the public. Thursday morning with Sophia Lycouris, Stefanie Cohen, Lisa Steichmann, Petra Kuppers, Jina Kim and others.
Update October 2009:
FOCUS Film Festival, CSU Chico, October 20th-21st. 'water burns sun' 1st prize experimental category, filmmakers will be present.
Burning. A Participatory Performance. As part of Butoh Dance 50th Anniversary Festival, October 17th, Subterranean Arthouse. Class 1-3, Performance at 7
Daredevil, Disability's Seduction and Olimpias video installations: a keynote at San Francisco State University's Cinema Studies Graduate Student Conference, October 15th-17th. Keynote at 7pm, Coppola Theatre, Oct. 15th
Anarcha Presentation at Feminisms and Rhetorics Conference, Michigan State University, Oct
Cripple Poetics Performance, Duderstadt Video Performance Studio, University of Michigan, Oct 1st, as part of Arts and Bodies
Update September 2009:
Cripple Poetics. Concord Cafe, 937 Bloor Street, Toronto, organized by York University and University of Toronto Graduate Students
Update, July 2009:
Performance Event: Burning
A Disability Culture Project, led by Petra Kuppers and Neil Marcus
Subterranean Arthouse, Bancroft Ave (between Shattuck and Fulton), Berkeley Wednesdays 8, 15, 22, 29 of July, 7-9 pm,
performance sharing with gallery exhibit: Friday, July 31st, 7-9 pm
Come and explore with us through movement the fantasies, potentials and tensions of our new Olimpias happening/score/script. Put words in your mouth: what does it feel like to speak of cancer, of leprosy and environmental toxicity? What happens when bodies change, undergo transformation, expose themselves? What happens as you let images and poetry of poison and healing roll down your veins? We have a script, not a linear play -- scenes emerge from it like flowers out of earth.
No experience necessary, we do not require a commitment to come to all workshops or the sharing, we honor all forms of embodiment and identification, and we want to learn about access and respect together.
Space rental donation suggestion: $10, no one turned away for lack of funds.
Update, May 2009:
water burns sun
Production Still: Keira Heu-Jwyn Chang
- American Dance Festival Dance for the Camera selection, July 2009, Durham, North Carolina.
- Dance Film Festival, Society of Dance History Scholars/Dance Critic's Association, June 2009, Stanford University, CA.
- First Prize, Finnish National Gallery, Disability Film Festival 2009.
- San Francisco Art Institute, February 2009.
We're now working on a companion videodance which will be shot at Lake Tahoe, July 2009.
Burning is the opening performance of the Earth Matters on Stage Festival, Eugene, Oregon, 21st May 2009, University of Oregon, Villard Hall, 7.30.
Update, January 2009:
Burning workshop/masterclasses/performances at Tramway International Arts Center, Glasgow, Scotland, April 20th - 26th 2009
We've been working on a dancevideo, water burns sun, which will be part of future Burning installations.
January 23rd: Workshop Screening of new Butoh Dance video, San Francisco Art Institute, 1pm, San Francisco Dance Center, 5pm
Crew and Performers: LissaIvy Tiegel, Sadie Wilcox, Mayuko Ayabe, Eboni Hawkins, Neil Marcus, Leslie Schickel, Music: Dax Pierson/Robert Horton, Petra Kuppers
October/November 2008: Upcoming Artist's Talk Dates in Australia
(in addition to multiple fora and focus groups throughout metropolitan and rural Victoria, with the Cultural Development Network, as part of the Arts and Disability Research Project)
Thursday, Oct 9th, University of New South Wales, Law Building, 1.00
Monday, Oct 13th La Trobe University, Melbourne, 6.00
Saturday, Oct 25th, Poetry Reading at Awakenings Festival, Horsham, 10.00
Wednesday, Oct 29th Community Arts Network, Adelaide, 5.00
Thursday, Oct 30th, University of South Australia, Poetry Reading, 1.00
Saturday Nov 1st, dance workshop with No Strings Attached, Adelaide, 1-3
Sunday Nov 16th, dance workshop with Weave Dance Theatre, Melbourne, Brunswick Town Hall, 2-4
Thursday Nov 20th, Poetry Reading for ArtsAccess, East Melbourne Library, 3.30-5.30
Friday Nov 21st, Dance Jam at Dancehouse, Carlton, 5.3-7
Nov 24th -27th: various talks and workshops in Alice Springs
Nov 28th: Anarcha Presentation at After Effects conference, UNSW, Sydney, 12.00
September 2008: The new Olimpias show is up and running, and open for people to come and join: Burning. Read about the invitation.
September 2008: Our new poetry book is out!
Cripple Poetics: A Love Story. by Petra Kuppers and Neil Marcus. With photos by Lisa Steichmann. More excerpts. FAQs. Amazon link. Review by Carrie Sandahl
September 2nd, Pegasus, Berkeley
October 5th, University of Hawaii, Manoa. Poetry as Performance workshop.
Most performances this year will have elements of our book in them, like this Butoh one below , or our recent performances as part of the Disability Pride Arts and Culture Festival in Portland, Oregon; and a Disability Dance fest with Axis and Dandelion in Oakland.
Olimpias at BUTOH San Francisco Benefit, May 31st
Check out our new videopoem on YouTube, Disabled Lilacs
Tiresias Project: Disability and Erotics
The Tiresias DVD is out. Contact us if you would like a free copy.
Tiresias received the Pamela K. Walker award at Superfest 2008!
Tiresias Community Performance
Feburary 20th, Duderstadt Video Performance Studio, University of Michigan
A collaboration with the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living, funded by the Ginsberg Center.
As part of the 2008 Michigan Tiresias, we are running workshops at the AACIL from the 23rd of January onwards. If you are interested in participating, contact us.
Sample of a 2007 Tiresisas event:
Invitation: please join us for Tiresian Rites, in a circle at UC Berkeley, Saturday, 4th of August, 12 noon. We’ll look for depth together, for celebration, exploration, and sharing.
can you bare your body/soul
can you become visible
where do you take your place among humans
do you dare show your self
your hearts desire
Please bring yourself, your art/life, and food to share in our picnic!
Our Saturday will be part of the Tiresias Project by The Olimpias, a national disability culture series (www.umich.edu/~petra). In the Tiresias project, we explore issues of disability and erotics. The figure of Tiresias penetrates Greek drama - the hermaphroditic shape shifter who has lived both as a man, as Zeus's priest, and as a woman, as a prostitute of great renown.
Tiresias is a crip art project - and much more than that. In our project, we take Tiresias out of the background fabric of history. Now Tiresias and his disability, her undecidable bodily status, the malleability of his body, gender, her tri-pedal step and his blind/seeing eyes become the focal point of disability cultural work.
What does it mean to find empowerment through a trickster figure? At the heart of our project are images, sounds and words of seduction: an erotics of encounter with disability’s non-binary difference which problematises conventional notions of disabled people as tragic, sexless or deficient.
In the past months, we’ve had performance and photography sessions in a theatre in Michigan, and an exploration of naked bodies and natural environments in Rhode Island. For our Berkeley stop, we would like to investigate the moment of becoming naked, of opening. In our circle in a public space, we invite you to step into the middle and show us something of yourself: physically, poetically, in thought, spirit or body. We will spin our circle, see what happens as we move from vanity to being, from fear to joy and back again. Lisa, our photographer, will make images of these moments of disclosure, but none of these photos will be shared with the public without your express permission, after you’ve been send jpgs of them. You can participate and decide not to have any images of your performances released. We are interested in these moments of decision, not (only) in the photographic products. To give you a sense of previous Tiresias explorations (of nudity), we have put three of our images up online, at http://www-personal.umich.edu/~petra/tiresias2.htm. For our Saturday circle, there is no expectation of nudity, although we’ll support any and all expressions of ‘becoming naked,’ or supporting others in doing so.
Please join us! If you would like to read more about Tiresias, and our ideas about him/her, please email us.
Anarcha Project News
2008: A number of Anarcha publications are out: a DVD, a website with the journal Liminalities and more! Let us know if you want a copy of the DVD.
The Anarcha Project has received funding through a grant from the The Global Ethnic Literatures Seminar, sponsored by The University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; The Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs; The Office of the Vice President for Research; and The Rackham School of Graduate Studies.
Campus residencies in Ann Arbor and Detroit: December 2006
Anarcha Research Symposium : April 4/5 2007, University of Michigan
Anarcha Installation: Sedimentations Conference, May 2007
Davidson College, North Carolina (February 2007)
University of California, Berkeley (March 2007)
University of Washington, Seattle (May 2007)
Miami University. Ohio (February 2008)
Anarcha in Montgomery, Alabama
The Olimpias are using performative research methods to engage intersections between black history and disability history.
Remembering Anarcha and the Medical Plantation
Sunday, 14th May 2006, 5-7
Theatre, Taylor Center
Auburn University Montgomery
Black history, disability
studies and performance scholars work on
remembering Montgomery women Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey.
Come and join us for a discussion of Anarcha and J. Marion Sims, the
gynecologist who used slave women as experimental subjects while he
was searching for a cure for fistula.
We would love to hear from you what you know about this story, what it
means to you, how you remember it locally, how the local sites are
marked. And we would love to tell you how we go about using
movement, words and visuals to connect Anarcha's story to disability
history and black history.
Petra Kuppers (Associate
Professor, English, Theatre, Women's Studies, University of Michigan,
Anita Gonzalez (Associate Professor, Theatre and Dance, State
University of New York – New Paltz)
Carrie Sandahl (Associate Professor in the School of Theatre at Florida
State University, Tallahassee)
Art Projects in New Zealand, July 2005-Februrary 2006
community arts projects at the Otago Community Hospice, Dance with a Difference sessions particularly open to people who experience pain and discomfort, disability culture history performance work with former residents of institutions at the Truby King Reserve (grounds of the former Seacliff Hospital), Story/Movement exchanges at public libraries and community centers.
For a description of the whole Coastal Mapping project, got to the communityarts.net site, and this article.
Scar Tissue: A Body of Work
- Perishable Theatre, Empire Street, Providence, June 18th 2005, 6-8, free entry
- Gallery Presentation: Sarah Doyle Gallery, Brown University, 26 Benevolent Street, Providence, April 30th - May 6th 2005
Reception: May 6th, 6-8 - All are welcome!
The artworks we create through dance, writing, sculptural work and photography focus on a re-vision of the scar: on our bodies' ability to change and grow, to connect to the environment in unfamiliar ways, and to emerge as new landscapes.
(Amy's Scar, The Olimpias, 2005)
(manipulated photograph from Scar Tissue workshop session, photographer Martha Kuhlman, 2005)
The Tracks Project
We all leave marks in our environment - some of these marks are direct, like
tracks in the snow, earth, grass, sand and water, some more
subtle. Our presence, our limbs, wheels and crutches, our way of being influence the landscape.
Through community arts workshops, we will explore some of the differences with which disabled people enrich our wider social world.
We move differently, we inhabit our world differently. Our differences present another view of the world, and of wha.t it means to lead a fulfilled life - and our shared world is richer for these different perspectives.
What: The TRACKS Project: A digital photo/poetry exhibition
Where: The Sarah Doyle Gallery, 26 Benevolent Street, Providence
When: April 30th - May 6th, 2005
Artist's Reception: May 6th, 6-8
Where: Women's Center at Bryant University
Bryant Center, 3rd Floor, 1150 Douglas Pike, Smithfield
When: November 30 through January 15, 2004
Gallery Hours are Monday through Friday, 9am - 5pm
Opening & Artist Reception: 4pm, Tuesday, November 30, 2004
VSA arts of Rhode Island and The Olimpias are presenting The TRACKS Project: A digital photo/poem exhibition featuring artwork that celebrates Rhode Island's disability culture and provides new visual perspectives on the connections between landscape art and access.
'This exhibit of extraordinarily compelling works are the realized images of
a group of 17 community artists, from over a dozen RI cities and towns, coming
together to explore themes and motifs of what it means to have a disability.
At a series of workshops held in numerous Rhode Island locations - ranging from
Burrillville's Community Center, to Middletown's Norman Bird Sanctuary, through
Warwick's Goddard Park and stretching down to Westerly's Misquamicut Beach -
they crossed Rhode Island through all seasons. They explored their world through
dance, photography, earth art, and creative writing to construct this unique
body of visual and written work.'
- Olimpias Approaches in New Mexico: DEATH POEM RISING
sponsored by CFA PLACE Program & VSA North Fourth Art Center
Creative Research & Community Practice
for CFA Students from ALL Disciplines
with visiting artists
Eiko & Koma (Butoh Performers)
& Petra Kuppers (Community Performer)
Saturday & Sunday
APRIL 9th & 10th 2005
DELICIOUS MOVEMENT - Sat., April 9 10:00-12:00
Carlisle Gym - South Arena, University of New Mexico
Free & Open to the Public
DEATH POEM - Sat., April 9 7:30-9:30p
Reception following with Q&A from Eiko & Koma
South Broadway Cultural Center
RISING: An Evolving Community Performance - Sun., April 10
Drop-In any time between 12:00 and 5:00
Free & Open to the Public
Rio Grande Nature Center
For more information
- The Olimpias in New Zealand
Olimpias Director Petra Kuppers receives Inaugural Caroline Plummer Fellowship in Community Dance, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. She will take up her position in July 2005, and will lead performance workshops in cancer settings. She hopes to research approaches to healing, movement and disability culture in European-derived, Asian-derived and Maori communities on New Zealand's South Island.
Further Information about Caroline Plummer, the young woman whose vision of the power of dance has made the fellowship possible.
Information about Petra's talk at Dance Canopy Auckland, New Zealand, July 2005
- The Olimpias at the Chicago Women's Performance Art Festival 2004
October 24th, Links Hall, Chicago, 8 pm
Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren and Petra Kuppers present: A Bare Bone Tune
Tunnels and scars, tissue and membranes--these are the bodily materials and bodily sites that occupy space in this performance by two disabled performance artists. Bony protrusions and proliferating tissue emerge in sounds and sites, as the mechanics of baring and tuning meet hard edges. Spaces of deafness and spaces of pain meet. Text and movement articulate the richness of disabled embodiment.
- The Olimpias Site-Specific Dance Series 2004/2005
- Snow Paths - a site specific dance performance, date and location to be announced
- The Autumn Forest - a site-specific dance performance, October 31st, 5.30 pm
'on the edge of': The Autumn Forest
Samhain: Join The Olimpias dancers for an evening performance intervention
on the edge of the forest. Forest myths, fleeting events, lights shining in
the dark and glimpses of magic bodies unite in a celebration of autumn, and
the changes of the season. The performance is part of a series of site-specific
dances 'on the edge' - in sites that connect different environments, spaces
in transition, border-countries.
The performance lasts about 15 minutes, and ends in a sharing of food and drink. The performance is weather dependent - light rain won't stop it, but sustained bad weather will mean cancellation.
Entrance is free, but if you can, bring a non-perishable item for the Rhode Island Food Bank.
Location: Lincoln State Woods
Time: 6.30, October 5th
- Siren - a site-specific dance performance, September 12th 2004, 5pm
|This performance is part of the Wind Sea Sky
sculpture festival on Easton Beach, Newport.
No entry fee, but please bring a non-perishable item for the Rhode
Island Food Bank.
How does the Siren live? Ignoring the horror stories of drowned
See also Sirens 2003
- The Olimpias receive Rhode Island Foundation Award
Petra Kuppers/The Olimpias have been awarded a 12.000 dollar grant from the Rhode Island Foundation, as one of 9 artists to receive New Works funding in 2004. In collaboration with VSA Rhode Island, she will work with other disabled artists in Rhode Island's rural spaces, investigating the theme of 'Tracks'. What traces are left behind by different, non-normate forms of embodiment?
In various workshops over the year, we will explore temporary earth art, photography, video and movement work. The project will culminate in a traveling exhibition. Video artist Agnieszka Woznicka from the Rhode Island School of Design will collaborate with us in a video documentation to accompany the exhibition.
If you are a New England artist, and would like to be part of one or more of the workshops, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- New Book Published: Disability and Contemporary Performance
Partly as an outcome of The Olimpias Performance Research Series's work, Petra
Kuppers's book, Disability and Contemporary Performance: Bodies on Edge, has
been published with Routledge Press, December 2003. Thanks to all of you out
there, my disability community, for your generous help, inspiration and ideas!
Especially, many thanks to the artists I discuss in these pages!
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