May I Take Your Arm?

May I Take Your Arm?

An interdependent, audio art installation

Created by Alex Bulmer, Anna Camilleri, Tristan R. Whiston
Live video animation by Katie Yealland

Emerging from audio recorded walks between blind artist Alex Bulmer and storytellers who provided sighted guide, the artist ‘takes us by the arm’ to walk, listen, and share stories of place in this tactile installation. Journey through this multidimensional piece that considers the past, illuminates the present, and evokes possible futures.

If we walk together, does the way we ‘see’ our neighbourhood change?

May I Take Your Arm is about interdependence, relationships between people, our relationship to the St. James Town and Cabbagetown neighbourhoods, and the land upon which these neighbourhoods are settled. We respectfully recognize and acknowledge that we are living on Turtle Island in Tkaronto, the traditional, current, and unceded territories of the Haudenosaunee and Ojibwe First Nations.

Installation photo from May I Take Your Arm?

In April 2018, I moved into a Toronto apartment in the east end. I knew little about the area, the neighbours, the local history. Although I had spent nearly 16 years in the city between 1988 and 2004, when I left Toronto, the city for me had started at Dufferin St. and ended at Church St.

Throughout that space and that time, I transitioned from living sighted to living blind.

On my return to Toronto, I struggled to reconnect to this place I once called home. It felt more like an undefined, space of noise to push through, rather than an actual place, a landscape to encounter, with people to relate to and understand.

May I Take Your Arm was born from a need to understand where I am, a need to turn space into place into home. Through partnership with Red Dress Productions, we turned this need into interdependent walking audio art.

I walked with people from the local community, mostly people I’d never met before. We shared stories, memories, and descriptions of what we encountered together and how we engaged with place and home. The way we ‘saw’ our world was forever changed.

— Alex Bulmer

About Alex Bulmer

Alex BulmerAlex recently shared a best actress award with co-lead Margot Carghill at the 2017 Moscow International Disability Film Festival for her performance in Awake.

Alex was a UK Aria Prize finalist for her 2017 song driven radio feature Sounds Like She, a Society of Canadian Musicians award recipient, and writer of the stage play SMUDGE, which earned two Best New Play nominations in Canada and was Time Out Magazine’s Critics Choice during its UK premiere.  

She has worked as literary manager with Graeae, the UK’s leading disabled-led theatre company, and has been dramaturge of several outdoor performance and circus arts projects in Canada and the UK, including The Garden, which featured in both the London and Brazil Cultural Olympiads.

Alex is co-founder and artistic director of Invisible Flash UK, co-creator of the 2015 Republic of Inclusion, co-founder of Picasso Project, and co-producer and artistic director of Toronto’s Cripping the Stage. She served as inclusive arts consultant for Brazil 2016 Olympics, Central School of Speech & Drama UK, Tangled Art + Disability, Canadian Actors Equity, and Harbourfront Centre Toronto.

Alex is a fellow of the BBC Performing Arts and the Winston Churchill Foundation. In 2014, she was named one of the most influential disabled artists by UK’s Power magazine.

View photos from this performance on Flickr.
Contact Red Dress Productions for more information.

Funded by Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, National Arts Centre, English Theatre (The Collaborations)