Wednesday 21 November 2012

Total Permission

Total Permission underwater
As part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad there was a strand called Unlimited which encouraged deaf and disabled artists to take risks, to create work that is exceptional. To celebrate The Space, the Arts Council's digital download service, now has a new documentary, Total Permission, in which Charles Hazelwood encounters 12 of the artists commissioned by Unlimited.  In the film Hazelwood talks to the artists, reviews their work and talks to audience members at the Southbank Centre's Unlimited Festival. Hazelwood is himself the founder of the British Paraorchestra, the UK's first orchestra featuring world class musicians with disabilities.

The Southbank's festival Unlimited: the Revelation starts here ran from 30 August to 9 September and brought together all 29 commissions in the Unlimited strand, celebrating the work of deaf and disabled artists on an unprecedented scale. The project had pretty heavyweight backing, it was principally funded by the lottery (the Olympic Lottery Distributor) and delivered by a partnership of the UK Arts Councils, London 2012 and the British Council. Just as the Paralympics in London changed people's perceptions of what disabled people could do in sport, the aim of Unlimited and the festival was to change perceptions of deaf and disable people in the arts.

The film Total Permission, shows how Unlimited challenge audience preconceptions of disabled people as artists. The documentary features the work and performances of artists Sue Austin, Bobby Baker, Caroline Bowditch, Laurence Clark, Jez Colbourne, Claire Cunningham, Rachel Gadsden, Graeae, Stumble danceCircus, Simon McKeown, Ramesh Myyappan and Janice Parker. The performances include a bipolar circus, a symphony of sirens, a ten metre tall inflatable, as well as Sue Austin's Creating a Spectacle in which she plunges into the sea in her wheelchair. In the film she attempts to capture the exhilaration and freedom she felt from her wheelchair after she lost her mobility and became housebound.

The film is available on The Space, the Arts Council's new on-demand digital arts service. You can watch the film at The Space. Or it will receive its theatrical premiere on Monday 3 December with screenings at Watershed in Bristol and the National Media Museum in Bradford. The South Bank Centre is planning an event and screening in early 2013.

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