The COVID-19 pandemic will fundamentally change what/how/who we are forever – or, as Steven Pinker argues, human beings will simply revert to our old ways? Is this nature’s ‘clear warning shot’, and has ‘burst our bubble‘, or, when we emerge from this, will we party/fly/ spend/hurt/ bully with a vengeance, and return to our toxic ways for, that is our real, primal nature? What can art, creativity and neurodiversity do in the midst of any of this? What new insights and visions can we offer? The following are some of my live solo/collaborative readings, responses and efforts. They include materials for an online performance-lecture for EU scientists, and my offering of a chonky Battle Cat for those struggling with social distancing, and other ‘artful‘ approaches. These contribute to emerging frameworks, visions and actions like ‘radical kindness’, ‘compassionomics’ and #caremongering, which run alongside other efforts that many of us may also/already be doing on the ground (please rally behind the NHS to have access to PPE for staff, donate to the Guardian for its no-paywall, in-depth coverages and the Pankhurst Trust which protects women from possible augmented domestic violence during this time). Key in this discussion is art and creativity, because art and creativity is survival (why else did cave people make drawings, as my friend James Steventon, Director of Fermynwoods Contemporary Arts, asks) and, as Bob and Roberta Smith states, a human right. It is precisely when resources are scarce, when we are fearful, that art can and should open up platforms for dialogues, playing on its ambiguity and complexity to provoke new insights and questions. Do get in touch if I can help in any way, or if. keen to chat. Let’s use the crisis as a catalyst for change for the better. Take care every body. Best wishes, Kai
- Ten Reasons to Collaborate with Neurodiverse & Creative Allies (17/03/2020 Lecture + Masterclass for EU-funded consortium of scientists)
On the criticality for scientists to work with creative & neurodiverse allies. Lecture & Masterclass commissioned for the 2020 CoCA Annual Meeting. scheduled for 17/3/2020 at Frankfurt University Hospital. Watch recorded video clip of presentation here. Read transcript here. See slideshow here. Commissioned for the 2020 CoCA Annual Meeting. CoCA (Comorbid Conditions of ADHD) is a world-leading EU Horizon 2020 funded (50m Euro) consortium that studies the comorbidity between the most frequent psychiatric conditions relating to ADHD. The highly multi- and interdisciplinary consortium comprises 17 partners from 8 European countries (Germany, Netherlands, UK, Estonia, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Denmark) and the US. The partners have expertise in child, adolescent and adult psychiatry and in-depth knowledge on clinical studies, exercise, the circadian system, experimental medicine, mobile health applications, public health interventions, data integration, statistics, bioinformatics, genetics, machine learning, and epidemiology.
2) Cat(suit)s & Caring In The Time of COVID-19 (26/3/2020 commissioned blog post for Unlimited)
In this post, I do my bit for #caremongering by sharing my Cat(suit), which is an incredibly useful work of art, for these testing times.
Everybody is trying adjust to the disruption and chaos. For neurodiverse colleagues there are additional challenges. At this new network, as we learn about one another’s work/interests/aims, some also try to share ways to cope and make something positive from the crisis (who’s up for a fun Craftiness Against COVID-19 haiku contest that also supports emerging colleagues?). We also organised a live online advice support by member Professor of Psychiatry Philip Asherson.The Neurodiversity In/And Creative Research Network is a virtual expanded hub that I co-founded and co-lead with a lecturer in pharmacy and Leverhulme Fellow Dr Ranjita Dhital from Reading University. It brings together practitioners and researchers from diverse sectors worldwide, who share their knowledges, critical inquiries and local efforts. Now with 124 members since its set up one month ago, members are from technology, neuroscience, psychiatry, theatre, health, dance, media art, equality and diversity, disability and work in diverse sectors including cultural like museums and galleries, and higher education. We’re from London, Taiwan, Victoria/Australia, British Columbia/ Canada, Netherlands and Exeter, Glasgow, Portsmouth. Many are neurodiverse, many are allies, curious and/or want to work with and learn.
4) Running Artfully Across Disciplines (23/3/2020 Workshop for medical from St Georges Hospital and medical humanities students from Birkbeck)
This has a similar message to the Frankfurt lecture, albeit from another strand of research and body of work, around running as a creative discourse. See slideshow here. Invitation by artist Dr Deborah Padfield. Co-taught with Professor Annie Bartlett. inspired by Rousseau’s seminal 1776 book Reveries of the Solitary Walker, the performance-lecture is structured around 10 runs, and draws on a keynote lecture at Paris School of Culture and Arts for the RUN! RUN! RUN! Biennale 2018 and a book chapter for the Mobilities Handbook (Edward Elgar) ed by Monika Büscher (Centre for Mobility Research, Lancaster Uni), Malene Freudendal-Pedersen (Roskilde Uni/Denmark) and Sven Kesselring (Nuertingen-Geislingen Uni).
5) Craft & Design Centre Solo Exhibition
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, #MagicCarpet: Of wandering and weaving, of digits and the digital, of craft and craftiness A tapestry by Kai Syng Tan show has been shut ahead of its 4th April date, and the panel discussion cancelled. The Centre has however honoured the commission. I have redirected some of the funding as small donations to the NHS to have access to PPE for staff, the Guardian for its no-paywall, in-depth coverages and the Pankhurst Trust which protects women from possible escalation of domestic violence during this time), as well as towards the Craftiness Against COVID-19 haiku contest.