Maria Oshodi



Diverse, but diverse from what? Being a blind experimental theatre practitioner is generally perceived as diverse, but this is normality as far as I am concerned. My art practise is informed by my norm but bringing my practise into a more public arena, turns it into something other than the norm. Conversely, bringing what would be classified ‘main-stream’ practise into my artistic space sometimes feels like diverse practise to me. Its value for me is to act as a contrast or spring board from which point to begin an artistic enquiry, and from here exciting new creative discoveries are often made. For instance my company Extant, has taken traditional visual styles of movement and performance in the forms of clowning, burlesque and physical theatre, and brought the experience of being blind and partially sighted performing artists, to subvert, re-enliven and give new perspective on these art forms with an injection of difference. I’m inspired by other examples of this to be found mainly at the moment within a live art context where the work of artists like Bobby Baker, Arron Williamson and Catherin Araniello, Martin O’Brien, and Nomie Lakmaier To name but a few, are using the body to dismantle commonly held perceptions of disability through the subversive use of film and live performance.

The turning on its head of main-stream traditional practise will always be employed by those who are in the margins as part of their political assertion, but to make these voices a more potent creative integrated force that can fully influence main stream art practise, needs the will and commitment from those who hold the power. Inequalities to access within the arts to resources and opportunities still need to be battled for and the war on inequality won’t be won until main decision making gate keepers within the arts at strategic levels, are also as reflective of the diverse experience that the margins are currently replete with.