Deaf joy

I’ve been on zoom so much this week that I may have, at one point, entered a state of hypnosis.

I’m starting to, rather desperately, find surprising elements of beauty in the interface, using the same eye I use when I’m looking at a painting, trying to decipher how it was made or what colours were used and why.

I’ve been staring at people’s faces (but let’s be honest, mostly my own) for so long that I’m noticing that the black screen that frames our individual boxes is not actually black. You notice it when somebody turns off their camera and disappears. The gray rectangle that holds your name like a cradle holds a baby – it reveals the true colour of the ground behind it which is a blue-black, though, on your screen, it might be a yellow-black or a green-black. Let’s call it “zoom black”.

Don’t worry, if you were in a meeting with me this week, I was listening. I promise.

It has been 52 weeks since I heard the news that the world was ending. I know because when it happened, Emily and I, and our digital guardian Margaret Lam, spent two weeks pivoting our projects, including making the scary decision to switch Connector from a monthly newsletter to weekly. Today’s newsletter will be number 50!

To borrow the ride analogy, it has felt like plummeting on an old wooden roller coaster with only a flimsy steel lap bar holding me in. On the other hand, it’s been like piggybacking a sloth, bewildering and delightfully slow.

Regardless, we’ve managed to be kind to ourselves (I hope you have too), keep an open mind, try new things and change course so that we can continue experimenting and building connections.

Not long after the lockdown, artists Sage Lovell and Peter Owusu Ansah brought together six Deaf Canadian artists, Thurga Kanagasekarampillai, Syra Hassan, Shannon Rusnak, Melissa Brunner, Hodan Ismael, and Ebony R. Gooden, to meet online over a three month-long incubator and share stories, generate ideas and produce new work that demonstrates the interior world of Deaf joy, activism and human connection during a time of uncertainty and isolation.

Installing Crip Interiors five years ago, for the mayhem that was Nuit Blanche, I never imagined that we would one day use digital technology as a buoy to keep Crip Interiors going. While the pandemic may have temporarily held our projects down, through digital, they eventually popped back up!

So today, I’m agog with excitement to launch the culmination of that work, Deaf Interiors; an online multidisciplinary adaptation of Crip Interiors. Presented by Creative Users Projects in partnership with Tangled Art + Disability, Deaf Interiors is a Signature Project of the Cultural Hotspot, produced in partnership with the City of Toronto, with support from Bodies in Translation, Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts.

I won’t say anymore except to say, you should go check it out and keep tuned on social media because we’ll be talking with the artists over the next few months and getting to know more about the project!