Sonata in Z

Slogging away and frantically scrambling to get everything ready! One more week to go and it’s on with the show. If you are in Sydney, do drop by and say hello.
Sonata in Z announcement

Dawn-joy Leong and Lucy present

Sonata in Z

10-14 November 2015 | 10am-5pm

Nick Waterlow Gallery, UNSW Galleries

UNSW Art & Design, Paddington, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

An autistic human,

A greyhound dog.

Parallel Embodiments,

A journey of Being.

Endeavour of Empathy,

Spaces of Mind.

Sonorous communion,

Wordless interlocuations.

Enter breafoot,

Scheherazade’s Sea:

Dancing

Awake

Inside dreams.

Sonata in Z is a ‘gentle space’, inspired by my autistic hyper sensory quest for sanctuary, and my Greyhound Lucy’s natural ability to seek out and create oases of comfort. Unfolding like a musical sonata, visual images of Lucy in sonorous repose introduce the theme of rest. Please leave your shoes at the threshold as you enter, symbolically shedding conventional notions of social communication. Once inside, we shall not speak in words, but the tranquility is neither silent nor empty, because our senses will lead the way into a different social ecosystem of softly undulating rhythms, patterns, sounds, movements, gestures, textures, smells, tastes and visual conversations. This is our refuge, an alternative empathic resonance, a nonverbal sensory equilibrium – and Lucy and I would like to share our clement space with you.

Check out Lucy’s photos and read the full description here!

overwhelmed

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A long ramble. A not-well-written meandering babbling. But I am unable to execute beauteous sentences and coherent semantic tapestry. My mind is exploding, and here it is…

Sensory struggle. Anxiety overload. Overwhelmed by the mocking interplay and combined assault of the inexorable passage of time and mounting anxiety in a bizarre Call and Response (on perpetual da capo).

Then comes a flood of benevolence.

And I am engulfed in a deluge all over again – no, not anxiety this time, but a gentle humbling at the Hand of Grace.

The path of scholarship is never easy, and too many people struggle with crushing student debt. For me, it is an ongoing lesson in pespectival shifting and readjustment. My familial background eschews loans and looks down its nose at debt. When I won my PhD scholarship, I plunged into the real world of student debt. Ironic, but true. The scholarship stipend provided minimal living in the most expensive city in Australia. I scratched the bottom of the barrel and grasped for straws just to buy my passage, so as to take up the scholarship. Along the way, I needed help, a lot of help, which came from my one loving sister and her husband, and a few good friends. Each time I cried into the roaring void at a moment of panic and despair, Grace has answered in a soft still voice. Some old friends fell away, other friends I’ve known for ages stepped up and re-emerged, and I made new connections with people who have become trusted friends and loyal supporters. Trundling along in our rusty wheelbarrow.

Recently, my scholarship stipend ceased. My own college has stepped in to pay the tuition fees for this final semester, and for living expenses, a childhood friend in Singapore has generously extended a loan, as has another friend in the USA. And another friend has kindly offered a roof over our heads for the write-up months leading into submission.

My very pressing and present focus is on the upcoming exhibition, Sonata in Z 2015, marking the final part of a trilogy of experimental works in autism, parallel embodiment and alternative empathy.

As I hurtle through time and space, nearer and nearer to the setting up date, I grow more alarmed at the emptiness. I am one. And I have just one and a half months more to filling a space 10 metres by 3.5 metres, with a height of 2.8 metres, with all the luscious details and sensory engagement that I have in my mind. An impossible task. Yet, the show must go on. That has been the mantra of my life – perhaps of many an autist’s life, struggling through alien and inclement systems to forge some form of independence, hoping to make a tiny contribution to our worlds. But this time around, the show teeters on the mocking edge of the abyss of nothingness.

In this dismal setting, once more comes another wave. Of Grace. From Grace.

Last week, I received a surprise package from lovely friend and talented artist, Skye – beautiful hand crafted jewellery, a delicate necklace with horse-shoe pendant, a handbag, and a pack of trotters for Lucy.

Then on Saturday, my friend Rick came for our usual bruncheon session armed with gifts of sustenance. Water biscuits, Double Brie (no less!), fruit juice, and a tub of tiramisu!

Yesterday, lovely Rodrigo dropped by, bearing yet more wonderful presents, carried all the way across the world, from his travels in Europe and the UK.

Another precious bestowment, small but no less consequential – a CD of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony no. 4 – from my friend M, who lives in a beat up old van.

A phone call from Lucy’s beloved Godma, Rose, also brought a sliver of hope to the bleak horizon. She suggested that I ask a crafting group for help, to create the small little details for Sonata in Z. I am not sure what may come of it, but I am deeply grateful to Rose for her vigorous and rigorous care and endorsement of my work and my very embodiment. Hope is sustenance in itself.

Strangely enough, during our bruncheon prattle, Rick and I somehow meandered into this biblical quotation, from the book of Hebrews 11:1.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Just as I was agonising early last week over budgeting for food, questioning my needs and muddling through the finances, making lists and cancelling orders in a cyclical manic haplessness, worrying about Lucy’s nutrition and projecting onwards to some necessary medical procedures in the near future, screaming into the resonant silence and mumbling to myself and anyone else who was willing to listen to my drivel how I need an army of Smurfs to help me complete the little yet monumentally volumnous details required in my upcoming exhibition – and wondering how I would make it through this final passage to the finishing line of my Grand Quest!

Grace once more intervenes. Not with small morsels of charity, but with a Tsunami of gentle affection and regard. I am overwhelmed. But not crushed.

My exhibition, Sonata in Z 2015, is about creating clement space within which grace provides strength and enabling of Beingness, and wherein empathy propagates and emanates across all states of existence. The process is as important as the corporeal creation, and Grace forms the architectural foundation of all my work, as well as the fountain of Living Water.

I thank my friends and supporters for their channeling of this profound clemency. We are building Clement Spaces together – and across neurological cultures too! Welcome to Scheherazade’s Sea!

ode

Here, a brilliant entity in itself, an ode to one artist by another artist, bridging all arbitrary generic divides… and resonant in its warm light… gentle prompting… speaking to the bodied distress emanating from a previous post of mine (insult).

Read the entire poem, I urge you, it is worth the few moments to take…

To the Brave Artist Richard Harrington, by Stephen Rifkin.

My favoured quote…

We forgive them all, those who

Speak to us of their views,

When they are interesting, catch us,

And we stand in wonder

In the dim light, alert as cats,

As quick to offend.

We appreciate your spheres.

Dub them Harringtons, for today.

(Stephen Rifkin, August 21st 2015.)

edification

What does it feel like to be in an inclusive as well as embracing milieu? Yesterday, Lucy and I spent six hours in the company of people who demonstrated what open hearts and minds mean. My instinctive reading of the group told me they were a mixed bag of neurotypical and neurodiverse from all walks of life. It was a grueling two day workshop for art educators, but to me, on the very simple basic level, we were just earnest humans sharing experiences and insights, inspiring one another to develop professional and personal skills, strategies and perceptions. Artistic practice is truly a cogent agency for empathic edification. Continue reading

poco a poco

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The Bung-Up Budget Breakfast

The autistic life is not terrible. Just very challenging. In fact, some days, the struggle is monumental and overpowering. But the wonderment is so glorious and beautiful, the thrill so resonant, I will not exchange it for anything less – even if it is a 5% compared to the 95% of struggle. Continue reading

frenetic week

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It was a crazy week. Beware, this is not going to be a particularly eloquent post. My mind is still in sticky marshmallow mode.

Babysitting my friend’s little dog, falling ill, polishing up my presentation for the annual review conference, putting the finishing touches to my miniature installation (part of the conference), and battling the effects of the wet weather on my fraught senses. Anxiety levels were raging, and it was an intense struggle to maintain sufficient equilibrium to continue functioning. I am so grateful for my Angel. Just waking up every morning to her beautiful face makes getting out of bed such a happy event. Continue reading

not nice

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The Incredulous Niceness of Being – oven baked fries with yinyang mayo-tomato sauce… no, not nice… just a snack for a hungry girl.

Space of Mind. For a moment, let’s try to drop the Theories of Mind. Yes. Space. Shall we instead try to perceive the idea of Spaces of Mind… With all its sensory properties. This has been reverberating in the hallways of thought lately.

And within my Space, there are droplets of reflections upon certain words, soundlessly uttered, that seem so loud they cannot be ignored.

Meandering now to a specific word that has been dancing and wriggling around for awhile. Someone used the word, “nice,” as a virtuous state of being. She stated with pride that the people in a certain region in Australia (where she resides) are “nice” people. Indicating what? Yes, I know, most people would not give something like that a second thought, if at all a first. However… me… I am still pondering… Weeks after the fact…  Continue reading

cloudy

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Lucy is my Angel of Clemency.

[This is not a Pity-Party Poor-Me post. I am voicing these thoughts because I hope that there will be greater awareness and understanding of the conundrum faced by autistic people who struggle to live and function within a system that is largely alien to our innate make up. It is not a grumble either. There is no “Us vs Them” anymore in my mind. I strive for Neurocosmopolitanism – a coming together and blending of minds – rather than to emphasise the divide.]

After two days of intense sunshine and heat, last night, it finally rained a little. We woke up to cloudy skies and a relatively robust wind. I have a love hate relationship with robust wind. On one hand, I love the refreshing feeling of a good cool breeze, the way it skims over my skin in a firm, passing yet continuous caress, but my auditory senses become increasingly stressed by the cornucopia of sounds that the wind stirs up. Rustling leaves are delightful, but my senses can only absorb and contain a limited volume – decibel level, frequency and yes, ‘volume’ as in capacity – before becoming overwhelmed. Continue reading

work of art

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Mango chicken salad.

Any effort of life worthy of execution is a work of art. This applies most obviously in research – in my mind, there should not even be any hard and fast, static, defined demography of “transdisciplinarity,” though I myself use the term, for want of better semantic description. This creative endeavour, whether minute and seemingly innocuous, or groundbreaking momentous, should not so much be formed from a structured or deliberate action plan of cross-discplinary fertilisation or grafting, but rather borne out of a seed of passionate enquiry, whose innocence knows no arbitrary impositions. Continue reading