Fayen is an artist and writer based in rural Victoria. Her practice explores drafting, editing and translation of texts and paintings as interdependent methods for critical, imaginative and poetic enquiry. She is also the founder of 3-ply, which investigates artist-led publishing as an experimental, conceptual and strategic device to expand or disrupt the production, transmission or archiving of knowledge.
Image: “Gathering Three Frogs, PastPresent”, installation detail, projected photographic stills. Eareye//Handmouth, (audio description exhibition event), Kadist, San Francisco. Courtesty of the artists: Fayen d’Evie, Katie West, Bryan Phillips, and Pippa Samaya, 2016.
In 2016, Fayen d’Evie was awarded a $16,525 grant in the Arts Projects for Individuals and Groups category, for her new tactile work Hand(s) On, Hand(s) Off.
With the funding, Fayen developed new works incorporating video, sound, 2D text, sculpture and performance. These works investigated the history, politics and radical potential of tactile perception and haptic (touch-based) encounters with art.
Fayen worked with Australian artists and collaborators in San Francisco, including Professor Georgina Kleege, an eminent scholar on blindness and art. She also co-curated a series of events at Kadist Art Foundation in San Francisco, rethinking exhibiting norms from the perspective of tactility and movement; and developing audio description as a curatorial, artistic and literary form.
This was Fayen’s third application to the Australia Council, and the second to receive funding. As she was preparing her application she spoke several times with Australia Council staff to seek advice. She says, ‘I would definitely recommend this, in case (as I was) you might be inadvertently misinterpreting what is required.’
She describes the application process as invaluable, regardless of the outcome. ‘It led me to think through details of the project, challenging me to be more ambitious, and pushed me to gain explicit commitment from my project partner in San Francisco.’
Fayen selected the Arts and Disability panel to assess her application. ‘I was worried that perhaps the broader visual arts community wouldn’t perceive the themes of my practice as innovative, and weren’t connecting with the potential of my work to activate new methodologies amongst the broader curatorial and artistic community. I thought the Arts and Disability panel would better understand the significance of my work, and the high profile of the collaborators I had secured for my project.’
Applicants to Arts Projects for Individuals and Groups must choose an assessment criterion that describes the main purpose of their project. Fayen saw this project as a good fit for all the criteria. ‘It led to new audiences for my work, greatly expanded access and also had significant international outcomes. However, I chose “creation” to position the project as supportive of new artistic and curatorial outcomes, as there can be a danger that art practice emanating from disability can be assigned automatically to public programming and outreach.’
Fayen suggests that her project stood out to the assessors because it combined innovation and original thinking with a high level of curatorial support, had strong partnerships from highly respected practitioners in both disability and contemporary art fields, and a clearly articulated plan for far reaching outcomes
The funded project is now complete, and Fayen has started to work on developing new projects emanating from it, including further exhibition opportunities. ‘For example, I had developed a performative score for embodied encounters with artworks as part of my Australia Council project. I am now adapting this score for two new contexts. First, for navigating a responsive installation of kinetic and sonic sculptural forms at Casula Powerhouse with artists Sophie Takach, Bryan Phillips, and collaborators from the Theatre for the Blind: Ben Phillips and Janaleen Wolfe. Second, for guiding a tour of three sites where concealed or neglected artworks are sited in the landscape in and around Belgrade (Serbia), with the Cultural Centre of Belgrade and Beli Stap (White Cane); a collaboration with Katie West that grew out of our interactions at Kadist. There are other projects bubbling too that will extend the fledgling ideas of audio description as an artistic form that were part of my Australia Council project.’
‘Although my project engages and often leads to collaborations in these areas, I am determined to place my work as valid artistic practice that is suited to exhibition in contemporary galleries and museums of art. The Australia Council grant certainly leveraged this: as well as exhibiting new work at Kadist in San Francisco, the project also led to an invitation to present work at V.A.C. and the State Museum of Vadim Sidur in Moscow, as well feature articles about my work in U.S. publications such as Art Journal and the Los Angeles Art Quarterly.’
This is a remarkable story about a remarkable woman – a tenacious, determined and talented writer and performance maker, who also happens to have Down syndrome. Read more