The University Record, May 8, 1995

'This/Ability' focuses on representations of disabilities, day-to-day practical and political issues

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

Artists and non-artists will converge on campus May 18-20 to discuss and examine the aesthetic, conceptual and metaphorical representations of disability and the practical and political issues of living daily with disability.

"This/Ability," an interdisciplinary conference on disability and the arts, will explore broad notions of disability and ability as these concepts relate to artistic creativity, performance and the intellect. Theorists and practitioners, therapists and aesthetes, architects, video and film-makers, performers, artists, scholars, musicians, literary and cultural critics, playwrights, representatives of the theater industry and independent scholars will participate in several concurrent dialogues during the conference.

Advance registration (postmarked by May 10) is $75. Registration after May 10 is $100. Fees include all conference panels, workshops and special events. A limited number of scholarships for registration fee only are available.

The conference will open with a fiction, memoirs and poetry reading, free and open to the public, beginning at 4 p.m. May 18 at the Shaman Drum Bookshop. The reading features Ann Finger, Kenny Fries and Elizabeth Clare.

Other events open and free to the public, if space allows, include:

• A plenary panel of invited speakers, beginning at 9:30 a.m. May 19 in the Assembly Hall, Rackham Building. The panel will include Anne Finger of Wayne State University; David Hevey of the BBC; Victoria Ann Lewis of the University of California, Los Angeles; and Cheryl Marie Wade of Gnarly Bones Productions.

• The keynote address, "Ideology, Culture, and Disability Studies: The Twin Quests for Inclusion and Self-Definition," by Paul Longmore of San Francisco State University, at 11:45 a.m. May 19 in the Assembly Hall.

• A film double feature will include When Billy Broke His Head ... and Other Tales of Wonder by Billy Golfus and David E. Simpson, and Proof, directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse. The films will begin at 8:30 p.m. May 20 in Studio Classroom I in the Art and Architecture Building.

Performances, to which the public is invited and for which there is an admission fee, will include the Diversabilities Theater production of "The Swing," written and directed by Chris Baty, opening at 8 p.m. May 18. Cheryl Marie Wade's "Sassy Girl: Memoirs of a Poster Child Gone Awry" will begin at 8:30 p.m. May 19. Both performances will be in the Arena Theater, Frieze Building.

Art and performance works reflecting intersections of art, disability and activism will run May 15-June 15 in the Slusser Gallery, Art and Architecture Building, and will feature work by Amanda Contopulos, Rosalyn Driscoll, Mary Duffy, Joseph Grigely, David Hevey, Tony Mendoza, Helen Nestor, Jo Spence and Peter Williams.

"This/Ability" is sponsored by a number of U-M units and individuals as well as community organizations and businesses.

To register or for more information about the conference, contact Conferences and Seminars, 764-4276 or via FAX at 764-1557, via the Michigan Relay Center at 1-800-649-3777 or by e-mail at