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AUDIENCE REVIEW: "DX ME FIX ME" by Audre Wirtanen
March 5, 2020
On the @hyp_access Instagram account, a platform run by Audre Wirtanen and Laura Tuthall, is a plenitude of information around hypermobility spectrum disorders. In a post from the first week of March, for example, I learned that hypermobility can affect an individual’s proprioception; in the same post, proprioception is defined as “your sense of where your body is in the space around you.”
That was on my mind when I saw Wirtanen’s work DX ME FIX ME. Specifically, I was thinking about what a challenge it could be for those on the hypermobility spectrum who experience proprioceptive issues to situate themselves in spaces that are not made accessible to them -- particularly when the very act of situating oneself in a space is compromised.
In DX ME FIX ME Wirtanen presents some aspects of her journey through diagnostic tribulations in an attempt to understand a veritable dinner menu of symptoms (she lists them with feverish intensity early in the work). Her speaking voice, which takes us through almost the entire work, fluctuates from clear and composed to racing and desperate. She takes on roles: medical specialists, a performative reader of various texts, different versions of herself. The stage is arranged with an easel, stacks of papers, a folding chair, a doctor’s rolling stool, an IV bag hanging from its stand. The feeling is stripped down yet formal, even academic.
Often she speaks directly to us while sitting, standing, or crawling; some of the most powerful moments in terms of both content and physicality come as she acts out scenes taken directly from her experience, shifting between the role of Audre Wirtanen, patient, and a cadre of doctors who are at best dismissive and at worst lecherous. “You’re an attractive person,” one such character says, “we want you to have a better quality of life.” And because we, the audience, are observing an able-passing, conventionally attractive, topless Wirtanen weave herself into a folding chair, maybe our collective groan comes because we realize we’ve been thinking this as well, maybe we’ve been caught in our pity that is given so freely to this particular human being with her particular set of privileges. Wirtanen slyly implicates not only the specific individuals from her own experience but also the systemic mishandling of conditions like hers.
Perhaps because I entered the performance with space on my mind, I left wanting a more thorough exploration of Wirtanen’s movements through space. In quick glimpses of her dancing and from the smart scenic decor, we see a keen attention to pathway and dimension. It would be exciting to see the tightly and neatly constructed world expand ever so slightly.
At the end of the performance, audience members were handed a list of resources for further inquiry. I have included those resources below.
@sinsinvalid @mortuaryreport @talilalewis @disability_visibility @dominickevans
@hyp_access @aaron__philip @celestialinvestements @hot.crip
@annieelaney @disabledinjustice @pelenakekebrown @star_seeded
@crutches_and_spice @upgradeaccessibility @deathpanelpodcast
@healthjusticecommons @ablezine @behearddc @autisticselfadvocacy
Care Work Dreaming Disability Justice by Leah Piepzna-Samarasinha
Doing Harm by Maya Dusenbery
Brilliant Imperfection by Eli Clare
The Politics of Trauma by Staci K. Haines
Death Panel Podcast
Disability Visibility Podcast
Anna Peretz Rogovoy