Arseli Dokumacı is a postdoctoral researcher at Concordia University Mobile Media Lab. Her project investigates disability, everyday practices and performativity through image-based research. She completed her PhD in performance studies at Aberystwyth University. Her doctoral project entitled “Misfires that matter: Invisible disabilities and performances of the everyday” involved a two-hour documentary on daily “affordances” of people with rheumatoid arthritis. Articles stemming from this research appeared in Disability in Judaism, Christianity and Islam and Performance Research Journal (forthcoming, August 2013). Arseli has recently been elected as the chair of emerging scholars committee at Performance Studies international. For more information: performingdisability.co.uk
Misfires that matter: Invisible disabilities and differential mobilities in everyday life
This video presentation is a practice-informed enquiry into invisible disabilities related to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – a chronic disease that affects joints and mobility. The ethnographic documentary draws attention to how persons with RA-related disabilities afford the everyday and to how these “affordances” and the “taskscapes” that give rise to provide us with an enhanced understanding of differential mobilities and the performativity of the everyday.
In representational canons and everyday signification, disability often “matters” provided that it comes with a marker of bodily difference. But contrary to what these canons limit it to be, disability remains a wide-ranging category where not all forms of impairment are necessarily perceived by the lay eye. This video is an exploration of such forms of disability. In order to unveil the neutral, abled body sculpted in everyday terrains and furnishings, the video begins with showing the notations of the ways in which subjects with and without RA-related disabilities perform mundane tasks. In a further attempt, it turns towards the other side of these everyday scripts. Here, disabled subjects are seen as they create new action possibilities for the same tasks and choreograph unique “body techniques” that allow them to perform the everyday and to accommodate their pain in these performances at the same time. Mainly drawing on James Gibsonʼs notion of “affordances” and Tim Ingold’s “taskscapes,” the presentation concludes with a reflection on how the affordances that disabled subjects improvise could subvert the official definitions of everyday life and its ableist material arrangements.