Petra Kuppers and Stephanie Heit will introduce the work of The Olimpias, an international disability culture collective. They will share insights from recent performance projects, including their current inquiry, The Asylum Project, which explores multiple meanings of “asylum:” from asylum seekers to psychiatric asylums, from queer sanctuary space to temporary places of security and refuge in public. They will also share insights from Salamander, a community performance project that uses underwater photography, performance workshops, creative writing, and video.
Petra Kuppers is an internationally active disability culture activist, a community performance artist and wheelchair dancer, and a Professor at the University of Michigan. She also teaches on the low-residency MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College. She leads The Olimpias, a performance research collective. In 2015, she received the President’s Award for Art and Activism by the National Women Caucus for the Arts, at the College Art Association’s National Meeting in NYC.
Stephanie Heit is a poet, dancer, and teacher of somatic writing, Contemplative Dance Practice, and Kundalini Yoga. She lives with bipolar disorder and is a member of the Olimpias. Her debut poetry collection, The Color She Gave Gravity, was a Nightboat Poetry Prize finalist and is forthcoming from The Operating System in spring 2017. Her work most recently appeared in Midwestern Gothic, Typo, Streetnotes, Nerve Lantern, QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology, Spoon Knife Anthology, and Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance.
The Olimpias (www.olimpias.org) is an artists’ collective, founded in 1996 in Wales during work with mental health system survivors. Associates come from across the world, with a current US center. The Olimpias create collaborative, research-focused environments open to people with physical, emotional, sensory and cognitive differences and their allies. In these environments, they can explore pride and pain, attention and the transformatory power of touch. The Olimpias is disability-led, and non-disabled allies are always welcome.
Petra Kuppers and Stephanie Heit are currently doing a residency in Vandaler forening residency program in Oslo. Vandaler forening conducts and facilitates happenings with a special focus on experimental, time-based, collaborative and collective practices in relation to public space and landscape. www.vandalerforening.org