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DaDaFest 2012

  • Date: 12 July 2012
  • Area: North
Cartoon laughing bearded man with glasses

DaDaFest2012. Credit: DaDaFest

Disability Arts and Culture has grown over the last 30 years into a discernibly confident and accomplished artistic movement of expression around experiences of disability. DaDaFest was the first and is now the most comprehensive and challenging festival of Disability and Deaf Arts in the world.

DaDaFest 2012 opens tomorrow, Friday 13 July, and continues until 2 September at venues across Liverpool. The festival programme includes the exhibition Niet Normaal: Difference on Display at the Bluecoat, world-famous percussionist Evelyn Glennie at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Unlimited commission previews, and a variety of other performances.

DaDaFest brings an array of international artists to share their work which will entertain, provoke, challenge and inspire audiences. It will make people - whether deaf, disabled or non-disabled - laugh and express what it means to be human.

Commenting on DaDaFest, Julia Keenan, Arts Council England’s Relationship Manager for Diversity in Arts Practice said: ‘We are extremely happy to be a key partner of DaDaFest and congratulate the organisation on such an exciting and innovative programme for 2012. There is so much to see and take part in, from the challenging London 2012 commission Niet Normaal which for DaDaFest is coming to the Bluecoat, to the varied Unlimited Commissions of disabled and Deaf artists. Will we ever use the words ‘normal’ and ‘not normal’ again! DaDaFest is an outstanding example of a national portfolio organisation supporting us in our mission to deliver Great art for everyone.’

Ruth Gould, CEO of DaDaFest said: ‘The quality of artists we have been able to bring to DaDaFest 2012 just demonstrates how much we have grown as a festival on an international scale and it is a pleasure to be able to bring exclusive London 2012 Festival Unlimited commissions to the festival.’

Festival highlights include:

Dame Evelyn Glennie
The world-renowned solo percussionist performs at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on 18 August. The Grammy-winning percussionist and composer became almost completely deaf by the age of 12, but her hearing loss brought her a deeper understanding of and connection to the music she loves.

Niet Normaal
Niet Normaal: Difference on Display, which is a popular phrase in Dutch (literally translated as ‘not normal’ but also meaning ‘cool’), is a major contemporary art exhibition featuring paintings, installations, films, photographs and sculptures by 26 renowned artists. For DaDaFest, this London 2012 Festival commission will be at the Bluecoat until 2 September.

The Ugly Spirit from Liverpool based Fittings Multimedia Arts
An Unlimited commission, The Ugly Spirit is based on the lives of conjoined Siamese sisters Jessie and Bessie. In a cunning mix of improvisation and text, playwright Russell Barr, avant-garde performance artist David Hoyle and acclaimed soprano Denise Leigh explore the secret world of a famous touring theatre. Showing at the Bluecoat on 21 and 22 August, take a glimpse behind the curtain with this intimate promenade performance and enter the undiscovered places that lurk beneath the surface of the Siamese Sisters’ show. There is also the opportunity to take part in a workshop on 21 August which will follow on from the themes picked up in The Ugly Spirit and will use visual art to focus on exploring people’s divided selves.

The Eavesdropper - Aaron Williamson
Internationally acclaimed artist Aaron Williamson will be the DaDaFest 2012 artist in residence at the Walker Art Gallery from 13 July to 30 September. During Aaron’s residency, he will be ‘eavesdropping’ on the paintings’ secretive dialogue to create reworked versions, while examining the assumption of his supposed ability as a deaf person to overhear and mishear the unvoiced.

Benny Prasad
World renowned guitarist Benny Prasad brings his unique acoustic repertoire of engaging performance interspersed with sharing his life experiences at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral on 29 August.

Inspired by Laurence Clark
Commissioned by the Unlimited programme, Laurence Clark’s new comedy show Inspired asks why everyday activities are inspirational when performed by disabled people. You can catch it at the Unity Theatre on 31 August.

The screening will be followed by a discussion and Q&A with Rachel Gadsden and Bambanani artists Nondumiso Hlwele, Bongiwe Mba and Thobani Ncapai.

Unlimited Global Alchemy
Led by British artist Rachel Gadsden, in partnership with South African artist and activist Nondumiso Hlwele and The Bambanai Group, Unlimited Global Alchemy explores the psychology and politics of HIV/AIDS and of life-giving medical regimes. A special screening of short films shot on location in Cape Town will be shown at the Bluecoat on 30 August.

The DaDaFest Film Shorts, which will be screened at FACT on 21 August, include Joel Simon’s MACROPOLIS, another Unlimited commission. MACROPOLIS is a short animated film in which a group of soft toys rebel and escape from a factory to seek a new life among humans in the great outdoors.

These are just a few of the highlights of the three-week festival. The full programme is available at DaDaFest's website.

As well as the London 2012 Festival events taking place as part of DaDaFest, there are many more Cultural Olympiad activities taking place throughout the summer across the North West. Visit to find out more and to join the WE PLAY Challenge.