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Adriana Disman

Toronto, Montreal
October 04, 2017

Adriana Disman is a performance art maker, thinker, and organizer. Since 2010, her solo work has been presented in numerous festivals and galleries across Canada, the United States, Europe, and India. Her practice searches for minor modes of resistance as she seeks liberation – an interdependent and as yet un-imagined state – through refusing to adhere to the logics of power. Often engaging with self-wounding, her work is minimal, poetic, and intense. Disman’s theoretical writing on performance can be found in both academic and arts publications. She will be performing on October 7 at VIVA! Art Action in Montreal.

1. Confusing gender expressions

Grandpa inside of a Baywatch bod? Part-Gillian Anderson, part-old growth spruce tree? Anne of Green Gables meets Slimer? Hubbah hubbah. The more confusing the gender expression, the hotter I find it. Give me a gender-fucker whose expression is so specific that I have to listen deeply, that demands I hold multiplicity, and that forecloses “understanding”… and I’m butter. I celebrate the weirdos and glory in feeling confused. Pushing up against the limits of what is “knowable” = hot. Also glasses. Glasses are hot.

2. Czech-Iraqis

So far I am the only one I know. But I’m seeking others. I have so many questions. (Are we all this tall? How do you deal with this hair? What forms of culture do you call your own? Should we call each other Czechraqis?) Bonus points for other Czech-Iraqis who are queer, femme, and born in Canada, but I’ll take what I can get. Sure, there’s satisfaction in getting to represent myself, and in getting to yell: “All the Czech-Iraqis I’ve ever met disagree with you right now!” But more often than not, it’s just lonely (#diasporicdepression #does1countasadiaspora? #allmixedup). All leads are, genuinely, welcome.

3. Artists who are also sex workers

There are just so damn many! An overt but quiet network of folks who quit artist-run centre culture to earn a living wage instead. I estimate that 30% of the femme or women artists that I know are also sex workers, specifically so that they can continue dedicating themselves to their art practices. I see and celebrate you. I know you often withstand regular sex work shaming in your art world contexts and then still have the will power to leave the opening and go to work. You light up my heart, you superpowered fierce folks.

4. Mood medication

I learned from many things around me that mood medication is a cover-up. Being raised Buddhist from childhood, I told myself that to heal I needed to deepen my practices and take better care of my food, sleep, and exercise. Then Michael Stone died. And I was forced to confront the fact that a commitment to self-work isn’t always enough. His death pushed me past my own years of resistance to try something new. Mood medication felt, shockingly, amazing. More like coming home to myself than the dulling or distancing I’d imagined. Why haven’t I heard these narratives? Why didn’t anyone tell me that sometimes medicine comes from the lake or the trees and sometimes from little pills and that only you can tell what you need. I want you to hear this narrative: medicine was amazing for me.

5. Killing the dreams of making it big

There’s this magical thing about how low art’s glass ceiling can be for femmes/queers/folks of colour/crazy people: when there’s nowhere to go, we look to where we are. We engage imminently with each other’s practices when there’s no individualized dream of making it big. These brilliant writers are my pleasure in art, and I hope to continue engaging with their work as our joints get crunchier. They keep me nourished.

Alisha Mascarenhas’ poetry is visceral. Sharp and tender. She teaches me about loving deeply, with integrity. You can read her CBC short-listed nonfiction story on her father’s death here: Diving.

Esther Neff’s performance organizing and writing spark together to create brilliant theory on the politics of performance art-life. Esther keeps me believing/breathing. Here is her article Liberation Economics as Performance Art-Life.

MICE Magazine’s third issue, Ghost Intimacies, beautifully birthed by Sophie Le-Phat Ho and Ronald Rose-Antoinette, is fucking excellent (and completely available online). It also features one of my favourite art writers and fellow Cancer-rising softies, teaching me tenderness in criticality: Nazik Dakkach. Read her piece Untimely Considerations: Hospitality as Methodology.

I am also re-reading Erin Robinsong’s Rag Cosmologies and Joni Murphy’s Double Teenage. Both published by Book Thug. Both tear makers. You both have articulated the banal forces that organize life and helped me see them anew. Thank you.



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