4 Feet in the Dark is a collaborative sound art piece by Tash van Schaardenburg & Ari Kerssens exploring the experience of blindness, 

The following information is also available in Audio & NZSL formats.

For any accessibility requests/inquiries, please email ari@mobiusaccess.nz

Getting there:

The Western Springs Garden Community Hall is located at 953 Great North Road, opposite Western Springs Park. This venue is fully wheelchair accessible.

The venue has ample car parking, including mobility parks, and is close to the 11, 18, 132 195 and 650 bus routes.

From the carpark, you follow the building along the side closest to the road. Tactile tracks are installed to guide you to the door. The tracks lead directly into the correct doors, they do not run parallel to them as per the below photo.

Also pictured below is the route from the carpark to the main entrance.

You will arrive in an atrium area, from which you can enter the accessible bathrooms. The main exhibition space will be on your right as you enter.

 

What to expect:

During the event, we will be seated in the hall, and the lights will go out. This darkness is intended to switch those with vision’s brains into a primarily auditory and proprioceptive sensory state, to listen deeper and get the most from the piece.

We are aiming for a quiet, intimate experience, and as such ask that you do not bring non-service animals into the show.

Light refreshments and non-alcoholic beverages will be available on the opening night. We will also have a brief opening ceremony at the 7:30pm showing (on January 31st).

To book your free ticket, click here.

Venue:

Western Springs Community Hall,
956 Great North Road,
Western Springs,
Auckland 1022

Exhibition Dates:

31 Jan 2024

7:30 pm – Opening

9:00 pm

1 Feb 2024

1:00 pm

6:00 pm – Panel discussion: How do disabled creatives access the arts?

8:00 pm

The following text is also available in Audio and NZSL.

In conjunction with the Whakahoa Kaitoi Whanaketanga PAK’nSAVE Artist Fellowship, we are happy to present 4 Feet in The Dark, a new exhibition by Tash van Schaardenburg and Ari Kerssens. 4 Feet in the Dark considers the ableist architectures of everyday life alongside the soulful empowerment of embracing the disabled experience, a journey through the breadth of human emotions within the lens of blindness.

I step through

I unfurl it

Cha cha chunk ka cha chuck

Last week Tash asked me what it feels like to move my cane.

“It’s fluid, it’s like, it’s like a pendulum. You know, like gravity. There’s a there’s a.. not inertia. But the opposite of inertia. There’s a, there’s a hypnotic flow, left, right, left, right to it. And when you use your cane, your leading foot, your cane is always opposite…”

Tap tap tap tap tap

It’s quiet today. I can smell the Jasmine in bloom after the spring rain. I wish it weren’t a noxious weed. My new cane handle feels the same but different. The shape is familiar but the soft, worn rubber is smooth and hard again. With all the changes in my life it feels like a fitting symbol of my new beginnings.

Tap tap tap tap tap

Tash asks me when I started using my cane but I want to tell them why I didn’t first.

Well, not everybody experiences it, but a lot of people will experience shame or guilt, impostor syndrome, awkwardness, self consciousness…. Using a cane in public, especially after having lost your vision. So if you try and use a cane when you still have some vision, imposter syndrome is massive. I never used to use my cane at all you know, and people would just assume that I was on drugs. And then I eventually started using it for university. I was living at Lans’ flat on Pitt street. And I would use it to walk to university. Because so many times walking to uni, without it, I just get fucked up by people running me over and walking into me and car doors opening and all sorts of shit. I used it to get to university. And then as soon as I got to university, I put it away.”

Tap tap tap tap tap

My cane catches on a ridge on the footpath, it doesn’t break my stride, the impact would impale me if I weren’t used to it. This 4-foot pole is but an extension of my 3-foot arm.

Tap tap tap tap tap

Tash asks me when I started using my cane again.

“There was one particular day, I was walking through the quad as I left Queerspace, which was a whole thing because I used to just sit there and not say anything, because I couldn’t see anybody and nobody knew I was blind. And it was really awkward. But there was one particular day I was walking through the quad. And I walked straight headfirst into a pole. And a lot of people saw me and a few of them laughed. And I just thought “Nah, this is fucked.” You know, that was my first or second year of uni. And, and I started using it. But I felt really self conscious. I felt like: “I like attention. But this is drawing attention to me. for the wrong reasons. It’s drawing attention to me in a way that I can’t control.” And that’s why I love customising my cane. Because you, you take agency over that, you, you say okay, I have this thing, and I can either be a slave to it, or I can make it, make it my own and make it a part of me and my self expression.”

Tap tap tap tap tap tap

The basis of 4 Feet in the Dark is a collection of field recordings taken over the period of 8 months of Ari Kerssens navigating the world as a blind person, using a portable contact mic rigging that attached to their cane, a field recorder with just enough buttons for Ari to memorise, and another, coupled with some quiet shoes for Tash to follow them on their journeys.

These sounds are allegories of the ableism designed into our cities; an allusion to the discomfort and anxiety that we often experience while navigating through urban soundscapes.

Simultaneously it invites the listener to reposition their reference point of their own listening habits, to see the sound from a different perspective through this recontextualisation/repurposing of ‘noise’. ‘Noise’ referring to consequential sounds that are often viewed as unwanted, unavoidable, and ugly – mirrors the archaic socially othering that disabled people experience.

But beneath the noise, through the overwhelming, louder than the sonic dysphoria, grows the euphoria of embracing existence of the difference of experience. What does it mean to love yourself? What does it mean to live outshining the shadow the society casts over you? What can you feel when you face the closing doors and find new pathways between their frames?

You walk like Ari Kerssens walks, 4-feet in the Dark.

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