SICK! Lab Manchester 2016

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A COLLABORATIVE EXPLORATION OF IDENTITY AND TRAUMA 9TH – 12TH MARCH 2016 CONTACT, MANCHESTER SICK! Lab is a focussed 4-day programme of performances, presentations and discussions bringing together artists, academics from a wide range of disciplines, clinicians, commentators and the public to explore questions connecting identity and trauma: Why do we find it so hard to be alone in our minds? What do we gain from and lose to our social groups? Who do we choose to be the objects of our compassion? How much are we still defined by all those traditional categories: Religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexuality, disability? SICK! Lab 2016 generates discussion between widely differing perspectives and will inform the development of SICK! Festival March 2017. SICK! Festival confronts the physical, mental and social challenges of life and death, and how we survive them. Taking place in Brighton and Manchester, the festival brings together an outstanding international arts programme with perspectives from academic research, clinical practitioners, public health, charities and people with lived experience of the issues we address. SICK! Festival won the prestigious EFFE Festivals Award 2015/16 for excellence and innovation.


Bryony Kimmings is a Performance Artist from London. Tim Grayburn is an account manager at a top advertising firm. These two humans happen to be a couple. Bryony spends most of her life on tour trying her best to change the world. Tim spends most of his life at a desk trying his best to sell the world. Six months into their relationship Bryony found out that Tim has severe clinical depression. It is estimated that half of male depression goes undiagnosed, yet mental health related suicide is the number one killer of men under 35 in the UK. So why do we find it so hard to talk openly about the subject? How do we cope when it arises?

SICK! LOUNGE THU 10TH, 9.30AM – 11.00PM & FRI 11TH, 3.30PM – 11.00PM

SICK! Lounge will provide a setting for film screenings and installations. An open, informal space in which to continue discussions, take on refreshments and engage with our Lab Activators: Disability Arts Online, DasArts (Amsterdam), Composition Students, University of Manchester and our International Arts / Humanities Research Group. Polly Blake – Strengths and virtues Disability Arts Online – Unapologetic Self-Portraits Alexander Nieuwenhuis – Intuitive Encyclopedia PART XCIX: On true reality Olga Tsvetkova – Head down Noah Voelker – It is around 22:30 and I’m thinking about my mom while I’m drinking a glass of red wine Annefleur Schep – We have made you a painting Ira Melkonyan – CONNECTION.COLLABORATION Abhishek Thapar – Untitled Olga Tsvetkova – Homes Composition Students – University of Manchester

ON THE COUCH THU 10TH, 10.00AM - 4.30PM 10.00AM – 10.15AM


Introduction from SICK! Festival: Tim Harrison and guest curators of Lab Test: Isobel Dryburgh & Melih Gencboyaci (DasArts, Amsterdam) 10.15AM – 11.15AM

Fluid or Fractured Identities

How much are we still defined by all those traditional categories: Religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexuality... Do these aspects of our culture still define us, are we finding new categories or are definitions becoming so fluid that they are meaningless. For some the loss of coherent structures of identification is a great cause of discomfort, alienation and anxiety. For others it is a liberation. For many it is both.

• OPEN SPACE – FRI 11TH, 10.00AM – 4.00PM

Panel: Prof. Jackie Stacey (Chair), Lemn Sissay MBE, Hetain Patel, Prof. Alex Sharpe

• TEST LAB – FRI 11TH, 6.00PM – 10.00PM

11.15AM – 11.30AM



11.30AM – 12.30PM

Troubled Souls

Blaise Pascal wrote: ‘All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone’ and Satre stated that ‘Hell is other people.’ That intangible consciousness that exists deep inside our heads, outside our social interactions, the soul, the core-self, whatever we want to call it, seems always to be held in high regard. So why do we find it so hard to be alone in our minds? Panel: Tim Harrison (Chair), Dr. Rebecca Harris, Canon Dr. David Holgate, Prof. Michael Brady 12.30PM – 1.30PM LUNCH 1.30PM – 2.30PM

Who is your neighbour?

With conflicts breaking out and on-going across the world, and a homelessness crisis literally on our doorsteps, where do we direct our compassion? As the media gives us access to such an incomprehensible range and depth of human suffering we ask who is our neighbour? How do we, our media and our politicians choose where to focus our attention? Panel: Prof. Bobbie Farsides (Chair), Prof. James Thompson, Prof. Anthony Redmond OBE, Yasmine Nahlawi 2.30PM – 2.45PM


2.45PM – 3.45PM

Us & Them

Whether we choose our people, or they choose us, our bonds define who we are. From the bands we love and the football teams we support, to our countries, clans and religions, they can offer comfort and the means of self-realisation, and they can oppress us and others. Some of us seem to like labels and seek them out. But do we do this to strengthen ourselves in opposition to those that we do not wish to be like? Do these divisions between us and them define the basis of hostility with local and global neighbours? What do we gain from membership of our social groups, what do we sacrifice and what are the risks? Jackie Stacey will be chairing this discussion. Panel: Prof. Jackie Stacey (Chair), Prof. Gideon Calder, Nadia Nadarajah, Dr. Ruth Adams 3.45PM – 4.30PM


OPEN SPACE: THE FUTURE OF IDENTITY FRI 11TH, 10.00AM – 4.00PM Often described as Un-conferences, Open Space events put the agenda in the hands of the audience. Come along and find others with similar questions, but possibly different answers. Open Space gives all participants the chance to propose a starting point for discussion, take part in any of the conversations or flit between them all. It is particularly effective in dealing with complex issues where diverse and conflicting views are present. Facilitator: Tim Harrison, Creative Director, SICK! Festival


Drawing on the wisdom of Only Fools & Horses, this late night event gets to the core of our very existence. Never known for his intelligence, the classic TV comedy character inadvertently restages the Theseus’s Ship Paradox, which has been discussed by philosophers throughout history. This event will consider how the paradox has a particular significance when we replace the object in question with ourselves. If our bodies and minds are constantly changing, what remains of the thing that I call ‘Me’? Developed and delivered in partnership with Quarantine. (

LAB TEST FRI 11TH, 6.00PM – 10.00PM (Schedule announced on the night) Guest Curators of Lab Test: Isobel Dryburgh & Melih Gencboyaci (DasArts, Amsterdam). Featuring over 20 artists from 8 countries, Lab Test is a packed evening of work-in-progress performance, presentations, discussions and film. It is an opportunity for shared exploration of the questions posed by SICK! Lab: What makes me me? And how are we shaped by the experiences we live through. Ria Hartley – Untouchable A piece about hope, endurance and survival. It’s about finding the courage to speak out. It’s about the impact that domestic violence has on real people, a family, lives that matter. Tuheen Huda – The Diagnosis of Death Dr. Tuheen Huda invites you to discuss the diagnosis and certainty of death. What happens if you pass the test and remain “alive”? Tim Jeeves – Not Just the Incredibles A donated organ is an incredible gift. It is the gift of life; the insertion of a vital part of one individual into another; a physical blurring of two identities. For Lab Test, Tim Jeeves will present the research for Not Just the Incredibles; a project that is being developed with transplant recipients and lab staff working in the field. Sylvia Rimat – All of Me and You A voice. A talk. A discussion. This presentation is a conversation about All of Me and You. A starting point for an audio project exploring how it feels like to hear voices. Ailís Ní Ríain – Emera Extract from a new theatre piece about the aftermath of the Siege of Sarajevo (1992-1996). Emera will explore the presentation of trauma on stage, the legacies of war and the use of rape as a weapon of war.

DASARTS (AMSTERDAM): Astrit Ismaili – UNIQUE With UNIQUE Astrit Ismaili opens a space to question what fluid identity means, including the remnants of identities, marginalised individuals and outcasts. Ira Melkonyan – Trapanation Tutorial A procedure of trepanation can treat chronic headaches and result in a constant state of higher consciousness. Whilst questioning the border of accepted and forbidden medical interventions, we prepare the audience to undertake the operation. Alexander Nieuwenhuis – The Given The identity of donor children is generally defined by an unknown presence of the masturbator. In this performance Alexander Nieuwenhuis explores the absence of the father and what that means for the offspring. Gabino Rodriguez – It’s The Clouds That Keep Him Out, I Have No Faults At All: We Must Be Patient With The story of how I discovered a foreign country, the country where I now live. An attempt to grab a memory that serves to face the future. Annefleur Schep – Pulling a Kokoschka Drastic times ask for drastic measures. We all know this. But Kokoschka knew best. Inspired by the Austrian painter I will explore with you the therapeutic powers of art. Abhishek Thapar – Pluto In the Netherlands, for a foreigner to be eligible for a residence permit or naturalisation, you first have to pass a civic integration exam. Apart from the basic knowledge of Dutch language, your bicycle riding skills are being tested in this exam. Olga Tsvetkova – He is Abhishek. She is Olga. They might be singers or storytellers. They are not married. One of them is from religious family. They hide their nationality. They are originally from NON EU countries. They both live in Amsterdam. Noah Voelker – Talking About You for Hours Theatre maker Noah Voelker has been occupied by the question, “what makes you, you?” for the past couple of months. There is not an answer to the question, but a seemingly bottomless topic that he could possibly talk about for hours.

COMPOSITION STUDENTS – UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER: James Smythe – Manifold Mind ‘Manifold Mind’ was conceived as a sonic analogue to the collection of inner ‘characters’ or ‘voices’ one’s consciousness might be said to assume. Kevin Testagrossa – Speech And Rain This piece incorporates sound sources of the human voice and rain falling on plastic bags. The piece explores how we identify the human voice as a means of expressing emotion. Michael Phillips – Impressionable ‘Impressionable’ is a short, semi-improvisatory performance in which four instrumentalists emulate a single persona. Andrew Richards – Are we different? – Sind wir verschieden? Born out of my bi-lingual-ism, this piece presents the fractured nature of the bi-lingual mind and the cultures that it spans across.

SPECIAL THANKS TO: Matt Fenton and all the wonderful staff at Contact, Barbara van Lindt, Marijke Hoogenboom, Juul Beeren, Samga Nguyen and all the staff & students of Das Arts, Bobbie Farsides from BSMS, Nuffield Council on Bioethics, Carsten Timmerman, Elizabeth Toon and the members of CHSTM, Kevin Malone, the composition students from University of Manchester, Alison Clark, Catherine Willmore, Leroy Philbrook and Cate Canniffe from Arts Council England, Jackie Stacy, Kathryn Abel, Richard Brown, Daniel M Davis, Jeanette Edwards, Wendy Gallagher, Richard Gregory, Colin Hambrook, Afreena Islam, Julie McCarthy, Ian Parker, Arianne Shahvisi, Disability Arts Online, Word of Warning, Wonder Women, Quarantine, Edwina McEachran, Emily Walters, Lewis Grassick, Jasmin Veness, Nathan Mason, Annette Evans, Yuri Kim, Joanne Huddart, Lisa Mattocks, Sandra Alland, all the artists, speakers and other contributors to the programme.

James Keirle – Individual Why do we form group identities out of fear of expressing our individuality? This work expresses its outrage at the suppression of the individual. Rob Cooper – iSolation ‘iSolation’ is a semi-improvisatory performance that explores the themes of social isolation, inclusion and social anxiety. Rob Corrin – Crowd Theory Inspired by sociologists Gustave Le Bon and Henri Tajfel, Crowd Theory is a sonic exploration of individual and group identity.


Elizabeth Ditmanson – The Everyday Lullaby: Unfurlings and Solidarities Inspired by the Everyday Sexism Project, my intervention engages with its audience by questioning how female identities respond to prevalent tinges of sexism, both as individuals and in groups. Frankie McCormick – The Everyday Lullaby: Unfurlings and Solidarities This intervention explores female identity and the fractured lifestyle new mothers face when finding their way back into the modern working world.

IN CONVERSATION Disability Arts Online: DAO launch their Viewfinder Project and present some highlights from a new show reel of performance exploring disability and identity. Nuffield Council on Bioethics: Nuffield Council on Bioethics host three informal discussions on cosmetic procedures and body modification.

KIM NOBLE YOU’RE NOT ALONE SAT 12TH, 8.00PM Blending performance, comedy and film, Kim Noble tries to get close to other people on this planet. Keith for instance. You maybe. You’re Not Alone is a provocative, moving and comic production that chronicles one man’s attempts at connection, friendship and employment at B&Q. Kim Noble takes his audience on a journey through tower blocks, supermarkets and Facebook, seeking an escape from the loneliness of modern society. It is an intimate glimpse into the mind of an eccentric genius. @SICKfestival FESTIVAL