life does not die. art does not die. joburg will not die. a tribute to the life of lesley perkes @LesPersonas

Life does not die. From Lesley's 'The Troyeville Bedtime Story' Tumblr. http://troyevillebedtimestory.tumblr.com/

Life does not die. From Lesley’s ‘The Troyeville Bedtime Story’ Tumblr.http://troyevillebedtimestory.tumblr.com/

Lesley Perkes, Joburg’s and Art’s fiercest warrior, has left Troyeville. In the only way she ever would.

But life does not die. Art does not die. And Lesley’s art and life certainly never will. And Joburg never will; because Lesley would never let it. All we can do is continue her work, her energy, her passion, her life, her chutzpah.

When I messaged her after hearing about the cancer and told her I was devastated, she responded: “Don’t be devastated. I’m going to be fine.” Her strength, humour, indefatigable idealistic realism and feistiness implore us to respond to this in the same spirit.

Sleep well, Lesley. You are the Troyeville Bedtime Story, and we will read you like all good oral traditions to generations to come.

Much love to you, Les,
to Chili, Marta, Sonja, the sisters, the Joburg family

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 09.12.27

From: https://germainedelarch.wordpress.com/2015/02/13/life-does-not-die-art-does-not-die-joburg-will-not-die-a-tribute-to-the-life-of-lesley-perkes-lespersonas/

a year since phillip seymour hoffman’s death: addiction & #againststigma

It’s been a year, on the 5th February, that Phillip Seymour Hoffman and a friend of mine succumbed to addiction. A reminder of the continuous fight #againststigma

Here is the piece I wrote a year ago, more pertinent with each passing day:
https://germainedelarch.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/philip-seymour-hoffmans-addiction-and-death-and-our-culture-of-stigma-and-hypocrisy

And here is the call to action to join the fight #againststigma. Please join me.
https://germainedelarch.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/taking-the-anonymous-out-of-addiction-mental-illness-photographic-project-in-recovery-the-face-of-addictionmental-illness/

in recovery – #AgainstStigma the face of addiction/”mental illness”*: one month in

One month into my ‪#‎AgainstStigma‬ project and I have had 10 participants, with three more in the wings – more than I could have dreamt of! To my participants: I am beyond grateful for your incredible courage to stand up and be the face of addiction and/or mental illness, especially in the face of the very real stigma. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You guys are the modern day heroes. You guys are the ones fighting the battle, day by day, and living to tell the tale.

And please, if anyone has any queries, reservations or debates to offer up about this project, please contact me. This is a project under constant revision and re-creation. Let’s discuss and create what we live with together, instead of having the medical and psychiatric industry define it for us.*/**

And let’s keep speaking out against stigma, for the sake of those still struggling with addiction, mental illness and the stigma that prevents them from realising they’re not alone and from getting the support they so desperately need. Please share. Please participate.

Click for: The participants thus far.

* A note on what I mean by mental illness. The word ‘illness’ is something I use for the sake of clarity, to make sure that everyone knows what I am speaking about. So I use the psychiatric term. So whatever your definition and whether you see it as a burden or a gift, what I mean here by ‘mental illness’ is the same thing you mean. I have huge issues with the psychiatric institution and see it as very fraught, and I am not a big fan of the DSM whatever version we’re on now. I don’t believe in ‘diagnosis’ and hate how it labels and limits one. I see my ‘mental illness’ as part of my personality, not a pathology, something that makes me more sensitive and creative than most, which is both beautiful and difficult. Whether you align yourself to addiction as an illness or something that is not pathological, this project is for you, because I would like to put a face on those living outside the boundaries of what most people consider ‘normal’, and making a success of the daily struggles.

** recovery / active recovery / clean time / active recovery from mental illness / clean time from mental illness‘Recovery’ is not easily definable. I use the terms ‘recovery’ and ‘mental illness’ in the way that they are defined by the very, very fraught psychiatric institution. What I mean by ‘in recovery’ as opposed to ‘active addiction’ is that the former has taken the steps needed to live with their mental illness/addiction. They are aware that it is a day-to-day struggle and not something that is ever cured. An active addict or someone who is a victim to their mental illness is someone who is waiting to be saved; someone who does not take responsibility for what they are dealing with. And certainly, reaching out for help is taking responsibility. It’s the difference between between active, an agent in one’s own recovery, and being passive and waiting for a pill/professional/sobriety to save one. What it means for me is the last time my life was completely unmanageable, when I was not functioning, when the depression controlled me instead of the other way around; when I was a victim to it instead of a survivor living with and dealing with it daily. But having said that, it is not all smooth sailing. And not just because I’m an addict and living with mental illness, but because I’m alive ;) There are ups and downs and I have bad days and even relapse in some of my addictions. Or if I don’t relapse in my addictions, then I relapse in my addictive thinking and do impulsive, self-destructive and general ‘addict’ things. This clarification is under constant revision and has not been expressed very well here. Comments, queries and suggestions are very, very welcome. Let’s keep redefining what we live with, by ourselves, for ourselves, instead of having a psychiatric institution tell us what we live with. 

call to participate: #AgainstStigma the face of addiction/’mental illness’*

Please join me in providing a face to the anonymous diseases, in standing against stigma. (For more information about this project, the ideas behind it, and the inspiration for it, please visit my WordPress site: http://germainedelarch.wordpress.com/)

We all have addictions, and a lot of us live with mental illness. If you’re in active recovery, whether it be from mental illness* or from the addictions of smoking, sugar, over-working or heroin, etc., please take part and please share. So this is a call to take the anonymous out of addiction and mental illness. I’d like to begin a movement, centring around a photographic project, where we ‘come out’ as addicts and those living with mental illness. Because those in active addiction and active mental illness need to have a blueprint of what it looks like to be ‘allowed’ back into society, of what it looks like to live day by day with these diseases. Because being in recovery is one of the bravest things anyone can ever do, and this needs to be celebrated rather than stigmatised. And perhaps this will prevent the completely unnecessary deaths of those whom we know and love who feel that they are alone in their addiction and depression.

What are the requirements?
– That you’re a recovering addict** and/or living with mental illness, and not in active addiction** or in any way a victim** of your mental illness*. This project is for people who have overcome or are in the process of overcoming the dysfunction and are stronger for it, who have learned or are learning not only to live with their addictive personalities and mental illness, but who are stronger and more whole than when they first used or became mentally ill.
– The willingness to have your photograph, your full name and your information about your addiction and/or mental illness published on the internet in various social media forms, to be tagged on Facebook, as well as to have your image and details publicised in the form of a physical exhibition.
– That you use your full name.

Submission details:
– Photo: This project is about the message, not the photograph, so it will only work if all the portraits are in the same format. Sorry to limit your creativity, but if you could keep the photograph setup as close to the ones already online that would be great. I’ll edit if needed. Thanks!
– Text: Please fill your details into this format –
My name is ____________. I am a recovering addict (_________ [__ months/years], etc.). I live with mental illness (_________ [_____ months/years*]).
[…] indicates clean time.

* A note on what I mean by mental illness. The word ‘illness’ is something I use for the sake of clarity, to make sure that everyone knows what I am speaking about. So I use the psychiatric term. So whatever your definition and whether you see it as a burden or a gift, what I mean here by ‘mental illness’ is the same thing you mean. I have huge issues with the psychiatric institution and see it as very fraught, and I am not a big fan of the DSM whatever version we’re on now. I don’t believe in ‘diagnosis’ and hate how it labels and limits one. I see my ‘mental illness’ as part of my personality, not a pathology, something that makes me more sensitive and creative than most, which is both beautiful and difficult. Whether you align yourself to addiction as an illness or something that is not pathological, this project is for you, because I would like to put a face on those living outside the boundaries of what most people consider ‘normal’, and making a success of the daily struggles.

** recovery / active recovery / clean time / active recovery from mental illness / clean time from mental illness: ‘Recovery’ is not easily definable. I use the terms ‘recovery’ and ‘mental illness’ in the way that they are defined by the very, very fraught psychiatric institution. What I mean by ‘in recovery’ as opposed to ‘active addiction’ is that the former has taken the steps needed to live with their mental illness/addiction. They are aware that it is a day-to-day struggle and not something that is ever cured. An active addict or someone who is a victim to their mental illness is someone who is waiting to be saved; someone who does not take responsibility for what they are dealing with. And certainly, reaching out for help is taking responsibility. It’s the difference between between active, an agent in one’s own recovery, and being passive and waiting for a pill/professional/sobriety to save one. What it means for me is the last time my life was completely unmanageable, when I was not functioning, when the depression controlled me instead of the other way around; when I was a victim to it instead of a survivor living with and dealing with it daily. But having said that, it is not all smooth sailing. And not just because I’m an addict and living with mental illness, but because I’m alive ;) There are ups and downs and I have bad days and even relapse in some of my addictions. Or if I don’t relapse in my addictions, then I relapse in my addictive thinking and do impulsive, self-destructive and general ‘addict’ things. This clarification is under constant revision and has not been expressed very well here. Comments, queries and suggestions are very, very welcome. Let’s keep redefining what we live with, by ourselves, for ourselves, instead of having a psychiatric institution tell us what we live with.

Stigma Too Much for #AgainstStigma? Please Participate Anonymously in Writing.
Now a month into the project, I must say that I had absolutely no idea how great the stigma is re addiction and mental illness until I started my In Recovery: The Face of Addiction/Mental Illness. ‪#‎AgainstStigma project. I’m getting quite a bit of feedback that people would love to participate, but that they too did not realise how insidious the stigma was. I’d like to ask that those of you who feel that they cannot participate in this project due to the stigma please inbox or email me (germainedelarch@gmail.com). I’d like to include your anonymous comments in this project in a piece I’ll be writing along with it.

And remember: this stigma says more about society than it does about you and your ability to participate.

For any queries, debates, additions to my definitions or submissions, please email germainedelarch@gmail.com

#AgainstStigma the face of addiction/’mental illness’*  1.
My name is Germaine de Larch. I am a recovering addict (self-mutilation [7 years], bulimia [13 years], overeating [3 years], co-dependent relationships [3 years], cigarettes [2 months, 10 days]). I live with mental illness (chronic depression, social phobia, Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder [3 years]). […] indicates clean time.
Photo: Self-portrait by Germaine
Johannesburg, South Africa
Image

#AgainstStigma the face of addiction/’mental illness’*  2.
My name is Marelise van der Merwe. I am a recovering addict: bulimia [3 years], cigarettes [9 years], compulsive overeating [6 months]. I live with mental illness: Complex PTSD [ongoing] and a number of anxiety disorders [3 years].
[…] indicates clean time.
Photo: Self-portrait by Marelise
Western Cape, South Africa

Image

#AgainstStigma the face of addiction/’mental illness’*  3.
My name is Paul Strappini. I am a recovering addict: alcohol [11 years], methamphetamine [3 years]. I live with mental illness: Generalised Anxiety Disorder [15 years].
[…] indicates clean time.
Photo: Self-portrait by Paul
Johannesburg, South Africa
Image

#AgainstStigma the face of addiction/’mental illness’*  4.
My name is Zunia Boucher-Myers. I am a recovering addict (cigarettes) [13 years], (compulsive overeating) [3 years]. I live with mental illness* (depression) [2 years].
[…] indicates clean time**.
Self-portrait by Zunia.
Western Cape, South Africa.

Zunia

#AgainstStigma the face of addiction/’mental illness’*  5. 
My name is Airen McClure. I live with mental illness* (chronic depression, anxiety [9 months] and gender dysphoria [one day at a time]).
[…] indicates clean time**.
Self-portrait by Airen.
Pennsylvania, USA

Airen

Anonymous #1. #AgainstStigma

#AgainstStigma_Anonymous 1 copy

Anonymous #2. #AgainstStigma

#AgainstStigma_Anonymous 2

For more information about this project, the ideas behind it, and the inspiration for it, please visit my WordPress site: http://germainedelarch.wordpress.com/

#beyondbinaries: queer and the reconstruction of identity – a photographic exhibition by germaine de larch

Image

“There are more things […] in heaven and earth, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” – Shakespeare, Hamlet

These images are an artistic exploration and performance of being and experience beyond binaries. My vision for this project stems from the need to document the queer, carnivalesque space I have excavated for myself that exists beyond the constructs of reality, identity and gender as binaries, dualities and stereotypes. ‘#beyondbinaries: queer and the reconstruction of identity’ is an exploration, through self-portraits and portraits, of the contradictions, multiplicities and fluidity inherent in queer lived experience.

My work is, first and foremost, a vehicle through which I perform the continuing creative reconstruction of my self. It is a way for me to document who I am, who I am becoming, and provides me with a stage upon which to explore my self and my performance of continuously and unendingly recreating and reconstructing my fluid identity and gender identity. It is a stage from which I can share that de- and reconstruction with my audience.

My portraits tell the stories of those who use a similar stage to renegotiate and reconstruct their own identity. My images are a conscious choice to tell my own story and collaboratively tell the stories of my community, my city. My work is thus a collaboration with people and places on a journey of who they are, who are interested in playing with their identities, who want to explore the creative possibilities outside of the binaries, dualities and stereotypes constructed for us.