This year, BOP has been working with Anne Kjær Joergensen, a student at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – who is on a placement with us as part of her degree.
This blog post was first published on the RCS website as part of Anna’s course at RCS.
My placement with Bird of Paradise Theatre Company came about through a short film I did in collaboration with their artistic director, Robert Softley Gale, in early 2021. I was wanting to explore the intersection between disability and sensuality and the barriers disabled people encounter when engaging with the sensual world. It turned out that this topic was also on Robert’s mind, and we spend a few hours filming and conversing which turned into the film If You Could Touch Me Now.
A few weeks after I finished the film, Robert reached out to tell me about a project he had been working on for a while, but the process had stalled, and now he was looking to get it moving again. He invited me to take part in the project with the working title ‘We Fuck’. First step was to meet the other artists involved and start working on a shared document of creative ideas for the project.
During this process, I was listening to the audiobook version of adrienne maree brown’s book Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good. brown describes pleasure activism as:
… the work we do to reclaim our whole, happy, and satisfiable selves from the impacts, delusions, and limitations of oppression and/or supremacy. Pleasure activism asserts that we all need and deserve pleasure and that our social structures must reflect this.”(brown, 2019, p13)
Pleasure is a word that not only refers to sex and the erotic, but, according to brown includes anything that makes us feel good: food and cooking, music, art, fashion, humour, dancing, community work, etc (each individual’s list of things that make them feel good will be unique). She argues that the way we organise in the world is essentially science fiction in the way that the world is shaped by our imagination and our imaginations around our bodies are shaped by fear; fear of the ‘other’ body, whether fat, queer, disabled, POC or otherwise marginalised. She argues that our imagination is a tool for decolonizing the way we view our body’s right to pleasure. (brown, 2019, p10)
‘We Fuck’ is a project that challenges how we perceive certain bodies in relation to pleasure and how these bodies receive and process pleasure. When is the last time you saw a disabled body in a movie or series or theatre production that positioned this body as attractive, sensuous, sexual, and deserving of pleasure? ‘We Fuck’ imagines a different world where disabled people can pursue and engage in pleasure without judgement or oppression.
For a project such as this, that deals with such intimate, personal topics, there are certain ethical concerns to consider: How do we ensure that we create a working space where everyone involved feel comfortable voicing their needs, visions, and boundaries without judgement and where any concerns raised are respected and acted upon?
This will be my working enquiry for the coming weeks of engagement on the project. The idea so far (that I have arrived at through conversations with Robert) is that this enquiry will be explored through one-to-one and group discussions with artists, workhops, and the possibility of bringing in an intimacy coordinator to teach a workshop.
Anne Kjær Joergensen