by Leroy Moore/PNN
What did the all women in the Hip-Hop group, Salt-N-Pepa, say in 1991? "Lets Talk About Sex". Well people with disabilities today in 2008 are not only talking about sex and sexuality, they are politicizing it, shaping it in their own voice, image and performance!
For the last three years the Bay Area has been the stage of a new cultural revolution by disabled artists/activists who are of color, queer/trans around embodiment and disability, what we call Sins Invalid: An Unshamed Claim to Beauty in the Face of Invisibility or for short just Sins Invalid.
This annual performance will be undressing itself at the BRAVA Theater in the Mission District of San Francisco September 5th and 6th 2008 at 8pm.
Hold up, lets pull the curtains back to reveal a brief history of Sins Invalid and what you will be witnessing on September 5th and 6th at the Brava Theater. The combination of friendship, art and food is and has been a powerful starting point for some amazing ideals that grew into events, activism, movements and organizations.
Two years ago, in 2006, this combination was in the air when Patty Berne and Leroy F. Moore Jr. were hanging out. Two friends who share a lot in common, both persons with a disability, both of color, both community activists, both artists and both questioned why there wasn't an artistic/political stage in the Bay Area cultural arena for people who shared our identities and politics. We put down our forks and started to examine our his/herstory in activism and art realizing that our portfolios were full with DVDs, poetry notebooks and a long list of successful community organizing events, some hot and sexy and some political cultural work.
What happens when you question authority? Well, sometimes you find out that there is a need to be filled. With all of our work in the community, we knew that a craving for a cultural/political event was bubbling in the Bay Area. Patty and I gathered with friends to show our videos and talk about the disability rights movement, and how we as people of color and queer/gender queer can make our voices and art heard and seen in all communities, with a message that all bodies are beautiful. This vision was blown up when I put what my mother taught me, networking , to work. We, Patty and I formed a partnership with the founders, Todd Herman and Amanda Coslor of The Dancing Tree, a non-profit alliance of visual and performing artists seeking to facilitate, develop, perform, document and publish the stories of underrepresented people around the world, and launched a revolutionary series - Sins Invalid: Unshamed Claim to Beauty in the Face of Invisibility was born.
Since 2006, the first Sins Invalid show at BRAVA Theater, Sins Invalid has grown from a one day film event with local artists with disabilities, to year round programming with our multidisciplinary performance base workshops, political/cultural presentations at conferences, local colleges/universities, non-profit organizations and collaboration with national and local organizations, to international artists with disabilities. Sins Invalid is now a two day annual event with the future goal of touring. Sins Invalid grew not only in artists but also in staff, tech team and our community.
In past years, Sins Invalid found artists by putting out a call locally, nationally and globally and got back some amazing art in all forms; videos, spoken word, visual, music and the list goes on. This year, 2008, we had a chance to build on a part of our vision and that was mixing our cultural art with our politics and organizing skills. We did this by selecting a group of artists from previous years and built a community of sharing our political views around sexuality, disability and our identities/culture. What you will see on September 5th and 6th at the BRAVA Theater in San Francisco is not only artistic beauty but a year long community building that took place within Sins Invalid's performe's core uncovering our struggles, personal stories of society's attitudes towards us, experiences of institutional practice, that led to our healing and reclaiming our strength, voice, sexuality, community. All of this will be on the BRAVA stage through dance by Rodney Bell, a Maori male dancer from New Zealand, performs aerial dance in his wheelchair in celebration of the body. Maria Palacios, a Latina poet, performs her acclaimed spoken word piece about forbidden love (Maria, Full of Sin) and also transforms herself from crippled girl into a goddess (in Testimony). These pieces, along with original works by Patty Berne of Oakland, Noemi Sohn, Seeley Quest, Leroy F. Moore Jr. and Nomy Lamm are simultaneously erotic, tender, and fierce to name a few.
So here we are, "Sins Invalid", ready to pull back the curtains again to display what is a part of life and that is our sexuality, political thought, art and expression as people with disabilities. This offering is for our communities, love ones, supporters, families, allies, media, professionals, politicians, artists, activists, lovers and yes strangers.
Patty Berne, Artistic Director of SINS INVALID, describes this performance event as "a healing for all who challenge themselves honestly when unearthing their sexual expression. SINS INVALID recognizes that we will be liberated as whole beings as disabled/as queer/as brown/as black/as genderqueer/as female or male bodied as we are far greater whole than partitioned. Our stories, embedded in analysis, offer paths from identity politics to unity amongst all oppressed people, laying a foundation for a collective claim of liberation and beauty."
The third annual SINS INVALID: An Unshamed Claim to Beauty in the Face of Invisibility will be performed on Friday and Saturday, September 5-6 at 8pm at Brava Theater (2789 -24th Street, San Francisco). The performances are wheelchair accessible and ASL interpreted. Tickets are affordably priced at $15 sliding scale. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. You can buy tickets in advance at www. brownpapertickets.com or at the door. PUBLIC INFORMATION: (510) 689-7198 or sinsinvalid.org
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the content of the program, this show contains nudity and explicit content. It is appropriate for ages 18 and up. SINS INVALID: An Unshamed Claim to Beauty in the Face of Invisibility is made possible by grants from the AEPOCH Fund, Cultural Equity Grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission, and the Astraea Foundation.
By Leroy F. Moore Jr.
Co\Founder, Community Relation Director and Performer of Sins Invalid.