View this email in your browser
Welcome to the 4th edition of our newsletter! The Bodies In Translation (BIT) project is about partnerships, activism, art, technology, and access to life. Our newsletter, Found in Translation, provides a springboard for BIT collaborations and highlights some of the amazing work that we have underway.
Share on Facebook Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter Share on Twitter
Forward via email Forward via email


Constructed Identities, a major show of new work by Persimmon Blackbridge, uses mixed media wood carving with found objects to question how disability is framed as a fracturing of ordinary life rather than a normal, expected part of it. Her exploration of the figure begins in disability, but necessarily complicates itself as our embodied identities intersect and overlap. This short documentary captures both the 2019 exhibition at McMaster University and an interview with the artist in her home studio on Hornby Island, British Columbia.
A photo of Karen Yoshida, looking up to the left of the frame and smiling. She is wearing a magenta top.
A photo of Karen Yoshida, looking up to the left of the frame and smiling. She is wearing a magenta top.

Karen Yoshida, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor at the Department of Physical Therapy, University of Toronto. She has initiated and led an innovative Critical Disability Studies and health and wellness/diversity component, with disability rights communities in Toronto within this department since 1987. She is a member of the Rehabilitation Science Institute, Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the Collaborative Program in Women’s Health, University of Toronto. In 2008 she was a Fellow in Columbia University’s Summer Institute on Oral History (topic: Narrating the Body: Oral History, Narrative and Embodied Performance). Her current research focuses on Activist Disability Oral History, arts-based research and dissemination, disability leadership, embodiment and women living with disabilities and their access to health services. As part of the Bodies in Translation Partnership grant, Dr Yoshida is leading an oral history study on Canadian disabled and cultural activists.

Karen recently spoke with Kayla Besse about her Oral Histories project. Watch an excerpt from the project with Sean Lee on our Vimeo channel, or embedded below.

Kayla Besse: Could you tell me about your oral histories project for folks who wouldn’t know anything about it?
Karen Yoshida: I’m collecting oral history from first-generation pioneering disabled artists, primarily in Ontario. And these are artists who have talked about their journey to becoming artists and what kind of things have helped them to think about being artists, how they got into art, what art they gravitated to. And talking about how disability has been good for art in general, whatever the medium. But also how art is good for disability in a way, to be able to embody disability within that type of art medium. It can be pretty helpful for the person, but also for anyone wanting to learn more about lived experience that way.
KB: I understand that this project is not just oral history—you did some video interviews as well?
KY: Right, so part of the oral history tradition is it’s really important to videotape people, and so we have the ten very rich oral histories that we videotaped. Fady [Shanouda] was our interviewer. I was taking notes, and Erin MacIndoe Sproule was our videographer. We have some very really rich oral history. Each interview would have probably taken anywhere from 2-4 hours.
So even though we’re only focussing on the slant of disability and art in the person’s life, and how they’ve come to that, these interviews are very detailed, and we also make sure we give people enough time to take breaks, to have lunch. They are very involved interviews, but it allows us to get a very fulsome interview of disability and art in their lives.
KB:  That’s awesome. Giving people time, as you’re saying, for breaks and things is an accessible practice which isn’t always the case in video-making and similar artistic practices.
KY: Yes, for [a future book project] we are wanting to talk about how the level of access is formed, that we embraced and embodied for our oral histories of these disabled artists [in a] pretty detailed way. Not only did we give people breaks, but we also provided lunch. We had, you know, “This is what we covered, what else would you like to speak to…” It became a collaborative process, versus just us asking questions. So, making sure people have the [interview] questions ahead of time. Making sure people could get to the venue, and paying for [travel costs] as well.
We’re making sure that we’re looking at access in different ways, to make sure the experience is, hopefully, really pleasant.
KB: What drew you to the Bodies in Translation Project?
KY: Well, I mean well, because of Carla and Eliza asking.
But besides that, I was intrigued by the fact that we’re looking at multiple bodies of difference, and that we were looking at how to further push Bodies in Translation from an artistic point of view. And asking, “How would that translation support disability culture?” So I was very drawn to that. I was also drawn to working with Carla [Rice] and Eliza [Chandler] and a lot of the other people. Because I had done some other oral history [work] before and [I wanted to] try dabbling in translating any research findings using art or other mediums to get across some aspect of disability culture—I see the power of that.
And it’s really powerful when you tell these stories, and place them in the appropriate context, what people can get from that. And the takeaways are not only a personal thing, but also something collective, that happen to many people.
Myself, Erin MacIndoe Sproule, and Fady Shanouda are going to be producing a five-minute documentary about these ten artists and their journey, but also how they see disability and art, and art and disability. We really see it as an important kind of knowledge piece that could go a lot of different places.
KB: What are some of the key themes or insights that delighted you, or that you learned from your interviews?
KY: Well, gosh, so much stuff. I mean, it was such an honour to be able to be able to sit in and listen to the wisdom in people’s stories about their becoming artists in different ways. And as they still continue to do art and what kind of cutting-edge work that they’re doing, it was such a privilege to be able to listen to that and to learn from them.
There are so many things. One thing that has come up is, certainly, the notion of “What is art?” is very wide open. One of the things that struck me was that we ask a question, “What would you say to a young, disabled person who wants to do art, or who is drawn to this area? And art in general? What would you say for them, to them now?”
And [the artists] respond in very similar ways: “Do what you love. Don’t by swayed by anyone saying that it’s not art, because it comes from your embodied experience. Don’t listen to others, follow your passion”
I think that’s a powerful message for a young disabled person who wants to engage in art, in whatever way that takes them. And that’s really powerful to have other disabled artists say that to them. And as a way to encourage them, and to be role models.
KB: Yes! To be able to look to disabled mentors is huge for folks who might not have been able to even dream those possibilities for themselves because of other cultural messaging.
KY: Yeah, absolutely. And we could see that there’s potential for whatever we produce to eventually be used in a pedagogical way at schools. That could be really helpful for a young disabled person, or really any person, to see. They might say, “Wow, I’d like to do that!” or “I can dabble in this, maybe I can get going there.” So yes, having that mentoring is so, so important.

A video excerpt from the Oral Disability Histories project, with Sean Lee
This video features a short excerpt of an interview with Sean Lee, Curator and Director of Programming at Tangled Arts + Disability Gallery in Toronto, ON, reflecting on how disability arts is radically dismantling the idea that art made by disabled artists is therapeutic. Instead, Lee asserts that disability art opens up new ways of understanding aesthetics and experience.


This is the cover of the Relaxed Performance report. The background is black and the text is white. The top-left corner has the British Council logo and the Bodies in Translation logo. The title reads "Relaxed Performance: Exploring Accessibility in the Canadian Theatre Landscape." The main image is a photograph of Erin Ball performing at Cripping the Arts. She is wearing two prosthetic legs that resemble stilts, and is using her hands to balance on the arms of a wheelchair. She has red hair and tattoos.
This is the cover of the Relaxed Performance report. The background is black and the text is white. The top-left corner has the British Council logo and the Bodies in Translation logo. The title reads "Relaxed Performance: Exploring Accessibility in the Canadian Theatre Landscape." The main image is a photograph of Erin Ball performing at Cripping the Arts. Erin is balanced by her hips on a bar across the top of the frame of an old hospital wheelchair. Her hands are on the arm rests, she is side profile. Her gaze is forward, towards the audience. Behind her, from her prosthetic legs, two long pegs extend, one straight out and one up in the air, from her bent knee. They are about three feet long each. She has red hair in a side pony tail.
Our Relaxed Performance report is now published! You can read it in full here. 

In 2018, Bodies in Translation partnered with British Council Canada to evaluate the successes, challenges, and future recommendations for Relaxed Performance training programs in the Canadian theatre landscape. The report, written by Andrea LaMarre, Carla Rice, and Kayla Besse, includes a literature scan, experiences and impacts of training, and audience feedback. A short booklet summarizing the report will be released soon. 

Relaxed Performance (RP) is an accessibility practice which “invites bodies to be bodies” in theatre spaces, including in their movement and vocalizations. RP also involves technical modifications, which were introduced in RP training sessions across Canada over the past several years.

We have recently re-partnered with the British Council Canada for a second phase of Relaxed Performance research, which involves teaching RP in university curriculum. In the Fall 2019 term, RP facilitators are working with theatre students at York University, and fashion studies students at Ryerson University. In Winter 2019, the University of Guelph choirs will be implementing Relaxed Performance as well. 
On now until March 1st, 2020 at the Guelph Civic Museum, this project emerged out of Dr. Evadne Kelly's postdoctoral position with Bodies in Translation.

In the early to mid 20th century, eugenics (race improvement through heredity) was taught in a number of universities throughout Southern Ontario, including Macdonald Institute and the Ontario Agricultural College, two of the three founding colleges that formed the University of Guelph. Educational institutions played a significant role in the eugenics movement by perpetuating destructive ideas that targeted Indigenous, Black, and other racialized populations, poor, and disabled people for segregation in institutions, cultural assimilation and sterilization.

While eugenics sought to eradicate those deemed as “unfit,” this exhibition centres the voices of members of affected communities who continue to work to prevent institutional brutality, oppose colonialism, reject ableism, and foster social justice.

Into the Light is co-curated by Mona Stonefish, Peter Park, Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning, Evadne Kelly, Seika Boye and Sky Stonefish.

View the ASL invite here, and the Access Guide here.

A photo of the "Into the Light sign on the wall outside the exhibit space. which has white text on a black background.
A photo of the "Into the Light sign on the wall outside the exhibit space. which has white text on a black background.
A wide-shot photo of the exhibit space, which has stacks of potato sacks to the left and right, and photos and documents lit by gallery lights on the far wall, straight ahead.
A wide-shot photo of the exhibit space, which has stacks of potato sacks to the left and right, and photos and documents lit by gallery lights on the far wall, straight ahead.
A selfie of Max, from the shoulders up, looking at the camera in three-quarters view. His hair is shaved on one side, and almost shoulder length on the other, with ear piercings visible on one side. He has a light amount  of facial hair and stubble, with sideburns visible on one side.
Image description: A selfie of Max, from the shoulders up, looking at the camera in three-quarters view. His hair is shaved on one side, and almost shoulder length on the other, with ear piercings visible on one side. He has a light amount  of facial hair and stubble, with sideburns visible on one side. 
Meet Max Ferguson! Max is Tangled Art + Disability & Bodies in Translation's 2020 Curator-in-Residence. The Curator Residency is an opportunity for Mad, Deaf and/or Disability-identified curators to think critically about and develop accessible, crip curatorial practices through a disability cultural lens and crip aesthetics. This residency at Tangled is co-developed and supported in partnership with Bodies in Translation.

Max (Sarah) Ferguson has been a practicing artist since 1996 and received his BFA from the University of Regina in 2001. He graduated with an MFA in Interdisciplinary Studies (Visual Art and Women’s and Gender Studies) in 2017 and is currently pursuing his PhD in Art and Women’s and Gender Studies at York University. His artistic explorations involve disability studies, gender, non-neurotypical and trans-queer sexualities, activism, the body, surrealism, anti-colonial approaches to artmaking, and psychoanalysis. Max has worked with a variety of media, ranging from computer-based works and readymades, to paintstick, graphite, and digital collage. His practice blends high and low art approaches, and draws from a mixture of art and academic theory, pop culture, and other influences. Currently, his work revolves around hybridized notions of photography, sculpture, music, sound, installation and performance, and involves psychoanalysis, the body, activism, queer/trans theory, assumed whiteness, internalized racism and Indigeneity, and issues of madness and non neurotypical ways of being. He is also a published poet and writer, holds a degree in journalism, and has worked as a political, legal, military and arts writer in four different provinces over the past decade.

You can check out some of his work here (take care for sensitive images of bodies), and read about his work at FLOURISHING, here.
A photo of Marnie outside in front of a wall of ivy. She has curly grey hair and glasses, and is wearing a black top with a white feather pattern on it.
A photo of Marnie outside in front of a wall of ivy. She has curly grey hair and glasses, and is wearing a black top with a white feather pattern on it.
We have recently welcomed Marnie Eves as the Administrative Assistant for the Re•Vision Centre and BIT. Marnie has worked in the non-profit sector for over 20 years and is passionate about issues of social and environmental justice. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies from Trent University and a Human Resources Management Diploma from the University of Guelph. Welcome Marnie!

Watch Bodies in Translation's Guiding Principles Video Animation, both in an audio described and non-audio described version. You can also view them on the BIT website in both a written document and a stunning graphic poster. Guelph-based artist Devon Kerslake created the poster and directed the animation. These illustrate the principles that ground all BIT partnerships and projects: leading with difference, enacting radical reciprocity, manifesting accessibility, and working in decolonizing and intersectional ways. The principles are responsive, evolving, and collaborative, so we welcome your feedback! 

Re•Vision Researcher-in-Training storytelling workshop: Want to participate in a digital storytelling workshop with us? We are holding an open workshop December 11-13th of this year at the University of Guelph. Anyone is welcome to apply to attend, for the cost of $400/person. For any questions or to express interest in participating, please contact Ingrid Mundel at

BIT Videos for teaching and learning: Tune into the BIT Vimeo Channel Watch some of our creative outputs, documentary work, interviews, and select talks and lectures. We encourage you to program these videos into your own talks and lectures, and to use this content in your research. 

ACCESS IS LOVE and LOVE IS COMPLICATED is on now at Critical Distance Centre for Curators, curated by Sean Lee and Emily Cook, and presented in partnership between Tangled Art + Disability and Critical Distance Centre for Curators. An exhibition and event series featuring Vanessa Dion Fletcher, Kat Germain, Wy Joung Kou, Dolleen Tisawii'ashii Manning, Andy Slater, Elizabeth Sweeney, Aislinn Thomas, and Adam Wolfond and Estée Klar. Events include:

  • Dream-Worlding with Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning Saturday, November 2nd at 2pm.
  • The Culture of Crip Aesthetics Panel discussion with Sean Lee, Elizabeth Sweeney, Andy Slater, Wy Joung Kou and Aislinn Thomas. Moderated by Emily Cook. Saturday, November 9th at 2pm.
  • Access is Love and Love is Complicated: A reading group. Thursday, November 14th from 6–9pm.
  • Experimental Audio and Image Description with Aislinn Thomas and Kat Germain. Saturday, November 16th at 2pm.
For more information, visit

Fat art and activism and the "Pretty Porky and Pissed Off" archives: BIT has partnered with Dr. Allyson Mitchell, Associate Professor in and Graduate Program Director of the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies, as well as Dr. Alison Crosby, Associate Professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies, and Director of the Centre for Feminist Research at York University, on the exciting work of digitizing the art and activism of Pretty, Porky, and Pissed Off (PPPO). PPPO was a feminist performance art and activist collective based in Toronto, ON from 1996-2005. Check out the BIT Instagram page for some sneak peaks, and stay tuned for more info!

Congrats to BIT team members for their new appointments: Mary Bunch, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design – (Tier 2) Canada Research Chair in Vision, Disability and the Arts; and Katie Aubrecht, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) Health Equity & Social Justice.

Congrats to Farrah Trahan, former Administrative Assistant with BIT and Re•Vision who recently accepted the Assistant to the Associate Vice-President, Research Services, at University of Guelph. We miss you!   

Reel Access Discovery Forum: in May 2019, BIT partnered with Reel Access, a working group of festival representatives and disability consultants, artists and activists, to bring film festivals together to find solutions for improving accessibility at festival events in Toronto. BIT co-leaders Dr. Carla Rice and Dr. Eliza Chandler provided a talkback session at the end of the day. The event was hosted by Inside Out LGTB Film Festival, ReelAbilities Toronto Film Festival, and Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival
Thank you to Karen Yoshida and Fady Shanouda, filmmaker Erin MacIndoe Sproule, and artist-curator Sean Lee for sharing their work on the Oral Histories project.

Thank you to Persimmon Blackbridge and the Constructed Identities documentary team: videographer Dale DeVost and filmmaker Marion Gruner of Billion Ideas for their collaboration on this BIT-produced doc.

Thank you to Kristina McMullin for sharing Tangled Art + Disability's current exhibits, and to Max Ferguson for the introduction.

Thanks to Marnie Eves for the introduction, and for joining the Bodies in Translation and Re•Vision Centre teams!
Found in Translation is a newsletter for, by, and about the Bodies in Translation partnership grant. Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology, and Access to Life is a research project that creates collaborative partnerships between artists, arts organizations, activists, scholars, and educators. We cultivate activist art produced by disabled, d/Deaf, fat, Mad, and E/elder people with the goal of expanding understandings of vitality and advancing social justice. Bodies in Translation has its home at Re·Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice at the University of Guelph. It is co-led by Dr. Carla Rice at the University of Guelph and Dr. Eliza Chandler at Ryerson University.
We recognize that accessibility is a dynamic process. If you find any part of this newsletter to be inaccessible to you or if you have any suggestions for how we might make Found in Translation more accessible in content, language, tone, style, etc., we would love feedback. Please email Kayla Besse at
This newsletter is written by Kayla Besse and edited by Kayla Besse and Tracy Tidgwell.

Kayla Besse is the Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator for Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology and Access to Life. She holds an MA in English literature from the University of Guelph. She has a particular expertise in literary and (pop-)cultural representations of disability, and her writing privileges the work of disabled people in order to reconsider reclamations of power through life writing, feminist theory, and advocacy. She is currently writing about the implementation of Relaxed Performance in Canadian theatre spaces.
Tracy Tidgwell is the Research Project Manager for Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology and Access to Life at Re•Vision: The Centre for Art & Social Justice at the University of Guelph. She is a community organizer and researcher, activist, and cultural producer working in the folds of Toronto's queer arts communities over the past many years in performance, video, analog photography, and writing. 
The content of this newsletter is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial-Sharealike license. This means that others may build on or alter content when it is re-shared. The content must be only used for non-commercial purposes and the original work must be attributed to the BIT Found in Translation newsletter. Users must also license the new work under the same license. For more information about Creative Commons licensing, please visit: Content that is shared here but created by others (for example, found on external links) may be subject to different licensing.
This research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Want to sign up, or want off this list?

Subscribe to this newslettter
Unsubscribe from this newsletter

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
ReVision · 70 Trent Lane · Guelph, On N1G 0A1 · Canada

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp