Posted By Sandra Alland

A wee trip to the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art has revealed that they still have not replaced the light bulbs for my show (A Spot of b)other: LGBTI Deaf and Disabled Cutures), after promising to do so over two months ago. Almost half of the lights have been burned out for the duration of the exhibit, which is supposed to be accessible to people with disabilities. Never mind that a group of blind and partially sighted people are formally visiting the exhibition this week...

In other GoMA disasters, it has just come to my attention that they placed my audio tour of the show online months ago without seeking permission from me or my collaborators, thus globally outing participants in terms of sexual orientation, gender identity, disabilities and mental health status. After several complaints they have now removed the download, but it has been up for months without our knowledge and may have caused irreparable damage. Just the latest in a long line of ineptitude and disrespect from Culture and Sport Glasgow.

b)other placed a formal complaint regarding discrimination on 30 November that still has not been responded to. Amazing.

Posted By Sandra Alland

Cast Offs is a six-episode Channel 4 series about six disabled people marooned on an island together for three months. It's a faux reality show; we also follow the six people before they leave for the island, in interviews and going about their daily lives.

Cast Offs is a groundbreaking mockumentary for a very basic reason -- all the characters are played by people who are disabled. No Al Pacino pretending to be blind or Daniel Day Lewis with his left foot here. I think this is awesome, and it's extra-awesome because the actors are good.

But what I really dig about the show is that the writing is superb. Most of the characters are pretty unlikeable much of the time, which goes a long way towards fighting stereotypes of saintly disabled and Deaf people. The people are complex, and allowed to be selfish, petty and bigoted at times. There are plenty of crip politics throughout -- and the question is raised as to whether having a disability actually means you have anything in common with other disabled people (the age-old "community" dilemma) -- but often the characters are dealing with things that have very little to do with disability. Parenthood, commitment, sex and death are very present themes.

It's great to finally see disabled stories told from a disabled perspective. Jack Thorne, Tony Roche and Alex Bulmer (she is someone I knew in Toronto, how cool is that!) have created a show that's wonderfully dirty with a difference. It's one of the best television series I've seen in years, also because it's got a terrifically biting sense of humour. (So much so that Channel 4 actually puts an official warning of "Dark adult humour". lol). Check it out here.


Posted By Sandra Alland

"Scottish-Canadian poet Sandra Alland and musician Y. Josephine have a more experimental take on spoken word performance than your average word-spitter. Having emerged from the Edinburgh queer cabaret scene a few years ago, Zorras deliver their musical stories bilingually, mixing text, sound poetry, percussion, guitar, megaphones, singing and projected visual images. Though I'd wager their live performance is more true to their artistic vision than an audio recording, they are still interesting on CD, mixing it up between more musical numbers like the guitar-folk 'Nest' and more radio-dramatized pieces like 'Here's To Wang." I personally love the 'In the Details' spoken interludes, humorous musings on the idiosyncrasies of the Bulgarian language." - Curve Magazine, Feburary 2010

In other news, Cachín Cachán Cachunga is Tuesday at 7:30pm at The Street. Don't miss Alison Smith and Penny Stenhouse. Also Zorras and Lily, and a few filmic and musical surprises!


Posted By Sandra Alland

"This eye-opening exhibition explores complex identities and histories of LGBTI deaf and disabled Scots. Artist Sandra Alland, in collaboration with like-minded artists, expresses true dedication to equality and human rights through the effective use of portraits, poems and film." - Diva Magazine

A Spot of b)other continues at GoMA until 21 February.

Posted By Sandra Alland

Wow. Just got back from a much-needed break in Manchester. Unfortunately I couldn't walk as much as I would've liked to (because of post-stressful-employment pain), but wow. Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism is perhaps the best show I have ever seen. Dr Patricia Allmer curated this exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery, and has put together an incredible historical collection, as well as mind-blowing art by amazing international artists. There's Frida Kahlo, Kay Sage, Dora Maar, Claude Cahun, Eileen Agar, Lee Miller, Leonora Carrington, Meret Oppenheim & Dorothea Tanning, just for starters. Honestly, it was stunning stunning stunning to see these artists collected so extensively in one place. There are paintings, photographs, films, collages, exquisite corpses, sculptures & books. You really get a sense of what was going on in surrealist art, of how important these women were to that movement, and to art and feminist thought in general.

It was also wonderful to see the work of highly talented artists who have been even more under-exhibited than those mentioned above -- mainly from Argentina, Mexico, India and former Czechoslovakia. Lola Alvarez Bravo, Leonor Fini, Remedios Varo, Ithell Colquhoun, Emila Medkova and Eva Swankmajerova, to name a few. The show gave me a sense of lineage that I've never felt before... this is work by, and often for, women -- and work of such high calibre that relegating it to a separate category (or footnote in the margins of history) is ridiculous. There's also work that explores gender identity in a less binary way (as surrealism itself explored the world beyond binaries), allowing a transgender narrative to enter into art history... if only quietly in the work of Cahun. Yay for Patricia Allmer! Continues to 10 January, do not miss it!

The experience was bittersweet, though, for as you travel throughout the remainder of the gallery everything remains as male as always. The gallery shop has only one small and temporary section of women's and feminist books; the rest of the shop continues to promote male artists through books, posters and calendars. There was one calendar of Tamara de Lempicka, though...

In other art news, Manchester Art Gallery's show of Francisco Goya's etchings The Fantasies, The Disasters of War and The Follies is also stunning, as is the accompanying installation, The Disasters of War, by the Chapman Brothers. As always, the Chapman Brothers' gruesome detail of the horrors of war and occupation left me feeling sad, sick and slightly faint. Goya's work didn't help much... but what more fitting way is there to feel when faced with the atrocities of war. Sadly, despite Goya's fame, these works were not shown or published in his lifetime because of their controversial or disturbing subject matter. Luckily Manchester Art Gallery respects its audience enough to show these still-disturbing and extremely violent works, and without any condescending warnings. This is even more impressive when you consider MAG is known as one of the most child-friendly galleries in the UK... but perhaps it's only Scotland that is so paternalistic with its art-goers as to limit or label what they see?

In accessibility notes, MAG is great... there are audio guides for the shows and large-print versions of text available, plus you can book BSL tours upon request. You can even borrow a wheelchair if you need to! Some of the works could have been hung lower for people using chairs to view, but overall they score four stars for accessibility.

Okay, back to bed with me.

Posted By Sandra Alland

Thanks to all the swell folks who came to the opening of A Spot of b)other (see previous entry for more info). It was a nice celebration despite the weather, and despite the fact that most of the lights are burned out in the gallery, the staff was rather cold, and our zine and display were labelled "explicit" at the last moment without consultation. No one would answer my questions about it at the time, but apparently this is because it has the word "fuck". I think "strong language" would have sufficed, and being told about it would have shown some basic respect... (not to mention I've seen the word fuck in GoMA before, and without a warning).

This kind of thing doesn't help much to eliminate the stereotype that all queer, trans and disabled work is pornographic (or to eliminate rumours of GoMA's insensitivity). When people hear the word "explicit", they think of sex. And this zine is sadly lacking in sex, quite frankly. As well as the label being culturally insensitive, people will be so darn confused! We will just have to make the next issue the porn issue.

Ah, well, onwards and upwards. I'm quite pleased with the show itself (the bother collective is stellar), and you can catch it for free until 21 February (if all the lights don't burn out before then...)


Posted By Sandra Alland

Thanks to the lovely man on the bench, the even lovelier man with the cape, the stupidity of those who wish to hurt those I love, and the sweetest friends a person could have. Thanks also to A in London, who is always there. Sometimes there is strange justice, sometimes you survive something you think will destroy you, and sometimes gifts arrive from unexpected places.

I know this all sounds obtuse, dear reader, but in some of our lives there are things you can't say for legal reasons. The main lesson of 2008 and 2009? Poetry and metaphor have more uses than I imagined... So beware, forces of evil, because books are coming and you shall pay dearly, if only in your hearts.

In other news, Zorras brought the house down at GFest, a lovely queer festival in London. The Cochrane Theatre was a fantastic venue... it was especially fab to see Ariadna Battich's beautiful videos on the big big screen.

In still other news,my first major art show, b)other, opens this Wednesday (to the public on Thursday) at Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art. For info on b)other and the collective I've been collaborating with, read a wee article in The Skinny.

And then I must sleep until January, forgive me if I'm not often here. Sadly the end of this chapter has not yet arrived, we've just been given a moment's pause to clean our glasses... xox

Posted By Sandra Alland

Friday the 30th was Screen Bandita's exciting The Eruption of Kilauea and Other Treasures! What a fantastic night of screenings of 16mm film projects with live music (and poems and stories) from Zorras, Raise Your Hem, Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo and Will Pickvance! Special thanks to Tim the Sound Guy. More info here!

In other news, as some of you know, I'm currently an artist-in-residence at GoMA and Trongate 103. In July I founded a collective called b)other, and together we've created a zine called A Spot of b)other (plus a lot of other things). See here for a preview in The Skinny!

An exhibition of our work (A Spot of b)other: LBGTI Deaf and Disabled Cultures) starts at GoMA on 25 November, but next week I have an Open Studio at Trongate 103 in Glasgow.

Sandra Alland Open Studio, with members of the b)other collective
Thursday 5 November
Trongate 103 Visting Artist Studio
(located at 103 Trongate, Glasgow)
3-5pm and 6-9pm

You can drop by, see the work we've been doing and chat with the artists. Also, we will have refreshments! Also, in the evening the rest of Trongate 103 (a fantastic new arts space with many galleries) will also have an open house. Please invite your friends and family!

b)other is Sandra Alland, Stuart Crawford, Nathan Gale, Y Josephine, Jennie Kermode, Rebeca Pla, Alison Smith, Penny Stenhouse and Kristiane Taylor.

You can also have a sneak-peak at my documentary about LGBTI immigrants to Scotland... featuring Nine, Janet, Y Josephine, Kika O and Rebeca Pla.

Other than that I'm out of commission for a while, maybe be back in late November...

Posted By Sandra Alland

I'm trying to make my blog more accessible to the visually impaired by using a bigger font, but my stupid provider, Doteasy, first of all limits the number of words I can use in a blog entry (annoying), and secondly limits the words according to their size (bigger font = shorter entries only). So if I want to be accessible I'm not allowed to say very much. For more info on the annoyances of digital accessibility (for creators and visitors of sites) go to the blog of deaf and disabled artist, Alison Smith.

Here's an excellent article by Jennie Kermode on the ongoing problems regarding the reported censorship of Dani Marti's work by Glasgow Culture and

In other news, I promised more thoughts on great Canadian stuff I've been reading. So next in line is Stuart Ross's new book of short stories, Buying Cigarettes for the Dog (Freehand Books). I love this book. I devoured it in a couple of hours, then read it again. Each story is a bizarre, surreal voyage. As usual, Ross moves you from the hilarious to the tragic in two words, and leaves you not quite sure how you ended up crying. I especially love "Three Arms Less" (an unusual meditation on war and race), "Me and the Pope" (where the Pope comes to crash at Ross's apartment during his visit to Toronto), and "Language Lessons... with Simon and Marie!" (a parody on learning a foreign language, in a war zone). The book has numerous references to war and its absurdities, particularly the Contras and Nicaragua, that leave you with a chill. I said "as usual" above, but perhaps actually Ross's short stories are emotionally scarier than his poetry, and not less funny exactly (because they are still really funny), but a more edgy kind of funny. A funny with something waiting behind it you're not sure you're ready for...

Speaking of war zones, I watched El Norte, the 1983 independent film by Gregory Nava, about two indigenous Guatemalans who flee to Mexico, then the United States, after their family is slaughtered for planning a strike. It's a stunning film, and shows the brutalities illegal immigrants face to get to, and then also survive in, the supposed Land of the Free. It's sad to see how little has changed... if it weren't for the production values I wouldn't necessarily have known I was watching a film from 25 years ago.


Posted By Sandra Alland

So today, after giving more blood than I thought possible, then getting some ultrasounds and two chest Xrays (they screwed up the first one, thanks for the extra radiation folks!), it seems pretty darn likely I have not only fibromyalgia, but also rheumatoid arthritis! I also have something called... I forget. It's like "floppy joints." lol. Seriously. But I already knew I was superflexible and doublejointed, and that it could cause pain (as well as pleasure...), I just didn't know it was a syndrome. Such fun.xox



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