10:00 – 11:00
/ 14’ + Q&A

Emily Beaney will be present for an extended Q&A with Lydia Beilby.

Content warning: some flashing imagery, discussion of endometriosis.

by Lydia Beilby

‘In my life politics don’t disappear, but take place in my body’
— Kathy Acker, Blood and Guts in High School

In this resonant and acutely intimate 16mm work, artist Emily Beaney draws attention to the entwined notions of deviance and defiance as experienced and enacted through the female body. Language is central to this conceit, both in relation to the aesthetic registers in which the piece operates and the inherently oppositional position Beaney presents to the predominant medical and societal framing of women with endometriosis.

It is evident that inhabiting a female-identified body is often precarious. To add a further layer of complexity, what does it mean to populate a body imperilled by illness? A sick body is perceived as risky and threatening as it subverts the accepted notions of usefulness and productivity central to capitalism. Furthermore, considering gender in relation to healthcare tells us that diagnosis, access to treatment and support are riddled with difficulties, and that afflictions specifically affecting female bodies are habitually downplayed, devalued or often undiagnosed.

Deviant stands in opposition to these dispiriting machinations, a beacon of solidarity and hope, where ill health is reframed as a crucially important, female-focused narrative, and the body is presented as a site of radical transgressions. Working alongside a pre-existing group, the Endo Warriors, over a sustained period, Beaney fosters a space where a multiplicity of voices and perspectives on the lived experience of endometriosis are drawn to the fore. Through a collaborative process where mutual support, collectivism and empathy are foregrounded, Beaney empowers participants to shape and form their own narratives – employing oral testimony and a playful, performative engagement with the natural landscape centralising touch, tactility, gesture and movement.

Here, art is deployed as an intrinsic form of political resistance, and within experimental film language Beaney searches for new forms of representation, to capture the complex shapes of personal experience; sensory, bodily and emotional. In thinking about Beaney’s interaction with the natural landscape, a compelling echo can be traced to the artist Derek Jarman’s essential approach to his garden at Dungeness.

Following an HIV diagnosis in 1986, the process of nurturing this plot afforded Jarman great joy, and there is a radical power in the bodies that society marginalises – be they queer, female or sick – claiming space in the natural world, finding solace in the feel of the ground beneath our feet, our hands touching the earth, and in the contours of the landscape. Here, the ebb and flow of the tides is mirrored in the cadence and rhythm of the poignant words shared by the Endo Warriors. Within the rock formations, we might detect the outlines of their physical forms, at once fragile, yet unwaveringly resilient and powerfully defiant.

Title image: Deviant, Emily Beaney, 2021