Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Disability as Power in the Works of Mary Duffy, Frida...

What do you do without either of your arms? What do you do for a living constrained to a wheelchair? What do you do without control over your own body? Many people in the world today spend their lives wishing things were not as they were, attempting to forget how they are, or trying to change how they are going to be. When disabled people succeed, it is commonly thought that those individuals are amazing for overcoming their disabilities and thriving in life. Is this really what they are doing? The following three women, Mary Duffy, Frieda Kahlo, and Vassar Miller transform their disabilities into the ability to create complex forms of art that force the audience to gain a different perspective on disabilities. Their disabilities†¦show more content†¦As Rosemarie Garland Thomson states, Disability performance art is a genre of self-representation, a form of autobiography, that merges the visual with the narrative. (Thomson 1). Duffy, an Irishwoman, is armless and has a delic ate hand attached directly to one shoulder. She is a survivor of the effects of the Thalidomide drug. This drug was introduced in West Germany in 1956. The Thalidomide drug was used to treat nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy, in addition to its uses as a sedative and hypnotic. It was not until 1961 that the drug was taken off the market, being identified as a human teratogen. More than 10,000 infants worldwide were born with malformations attributed to this drug, specifically malformations in the upper extremities. Mary Duffy uses the stare and tell method in her performances. Duffy uses this method by exposing her body in the nude, a body that has always been hidden, and therefore summoning the stare. By presenting her body to the viewer, the visibly disabled performance artist generates the dynamic of staring, the arrested attentiveness that registers difference on the part of the viewer. (Thomson 1). By calling upon the stare, the artist forces the audience to create and contemplate the question of What happened to you?. Therefore Mary Duffy incorporates narrative into her performance as well. She is then able to address issues, answer questions, and challenge commonly misinterpreted questions with her own thoughts and

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