Guest Post: Intersecting Passions: Disability & Feminism

Sins Invalid poster with man holding out his hands and clocks in the background

Sins Invalid is a performance project that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists as communities who have been historically marginalized.  Our performance work explores the themes of sexuality, embodiment and the disabled body.

We are a night away from our opening performance of Knotting Stories Over Time and Geography, and this year is our 5th annual performance – exhilarating, exhausting, transformative, and by nature, drama.  We have thirteen artists working in theater, dance, literature, film and (for the lobby installation) sculpture to create the strongest show to date. The performance arcs from histories including colonization, eugenics and medical abuse to the alchemy of healing through sex into laying the foundation for a collective claim of liberation and beauty.

As stated by participating artist/activist/historian Aurora Levins Morales in her collaboration with Antoine Hunter, “…Our history is in our bodies — what we do to breathe, how we move, the sounds we make, our myriad shapes, our wild gestures, far outside the boundaries of what’s expected, the knowledge bound into our bones, our trembling muscles, our laboring lungs — like secret seeds tied into the hair of our stolen ancestors, we carry it everywhere. Our stories erupt in the dances we invent, in the pleasure rubbed from our bodies like medicine from crushed leaves, spicy, astringent, sweet…Listen with your body. Let your body speak.”

We wanted to bring the Feministing community into the green room a bit as we prep for the show so a few performers shared their thoughts:

Our bodies tell stories.  They tell stories of love and pain, stories of yearning and hunger; stories of infinite giving, tears and laughter.  They tell stories of endless giving and forgiving.  Timeless stories.  Woman stories.  And even when we have been silenced by ages of fear and oppression, we still dare to speak and share, to cry out loud and declare ourselves worthy of love.  Despite a world that for so long denied us the right to own our bodies, we rise.  We rise above myths and stereotypes to become the women we are, to honor and recognize the power of our crip female anatomy.   Together we knot stories of strength and survival.   We knot stories that know the forever of womanhood in the geography of our bodies.

– Maria R. Palacios

Today I woke up at 6 am so I could go swim a half-mile before coming to tech rehearsal.  Feels so good to use my body, wearing my new swim foot and flippers and snorkel…It’s good practice for my performance, an underwater sea world where I am a singing mermaid.   I came to my sound check this morning all happy and ready and then immediately ran into tech issues, my loop pedal was completely not working and the tech people were saying I might have to buy a new one.  But then, oops, it was just a weird tech brain-fart and everything is fine.  Emotional roller coaster.  We just did our body check-in circle which I think should be mandatory for all performers at every show ever – it’s not only crips who have needs related to shit going on with our bodies.  It makes me feel closer and more open and able to be present in my work.  When there’s space for the deepness, then I have more room for the feel-good chit chat and excitement and nervous togetherness.

– Nomy Lamm

Why does it feel so exhilarating eating fresh food and stretching with other crips in a scent-free green room?  Because we are all here for Sins Invalid!  It is no exaggeration to say that it has changed my life, being part of this activist and performance project centered in the embodiment and movement building power of disabled artists breaking it down around connections between race, gender, sex (this stuff is hot), bodies, class, family, history and ancestors.  Seeing people with disabilities on stage, expressing ourselves fully with rich artistic skill, never fails to make me cry.  I think it is just such a relief to see us finally, as we were meant to be… beautiful, powerful, and together.

– Ellery Russian

Want more Sins?  Come to our show April 8 – 10th in SF or check out our website and sign up on our e-list – ‘cause we’ll be webcasting the show later this year!

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