Lightning, dwarfism, community at Arts House


Zoë Barry was hit by lightning, thrice. Now the award-winning cellist responds with a hair-raising solo performance charged by her uncanny encounters.

In September 2008, lightning struck the artist’s windscreen, and shortly thereafter a second strike hit the ground in front of her bonnet. Six months later, a bolt hit Barry’s house while she was inside.

“Fortunately, my car and house protected me from the full force of the strikes. But I did develop strange symptoms that affected my regulatory system, brain function, spatial awareness, and state of mind,” Barry said.

“These experiences changed how I exist within nature. I thought that nature had chosen me. I felt like I was leaving the human realm, as if lightning could see me, and that it would keep finding me.”

An ominous mesmeric croon on the immense power and providence of nature, The Nervous Atmosphere, now on at Arts House, is an eerily transportive solo work created by Barry and is described as a “haunting glimpse” into the artist’s personal reaction to being hit by lightning.

The Nervous Atmosphere is like a hypnotic meditation. These overwhelming encounters with nature shocked me into a new relationship with the forces of nature, electricity, and the mind,” the artist described.

Also showing at Arts House is Leisa Prowd’s personal celebration and artistic exploration of living with achondroplasia – the most common form of dwarfism.

I Am (Not) This Body is a study of Prowd’s experience living in a “six-foot world” as the artist reclaims agency of her body.

I Am (Not) This Body is a memoir and exploration of the relationship I have with my body as someone who is not even four-foot in a six-foot world,” Prowd said.

“I will be exploring themes of perception, voyeurism and consent through different mediums including film, spoken word, dance, projection and sculpture, culminating in a live performance and sensory/tactile installation.”

Prowd recently returned from touring with contemporary dance companies Hodworks (Hungary) and Unusual Symptoms (Germany) and is now one of the inaugural artists of The Warehouse Residency – a project that spotlights and champions new work by D/deaf and disabled artists.

“The Warehouse Residency will allow me the time, space, collaborations and consultations needed to develop the different elements and showcase the project as a whole. I am also wanting to make this project fully immersive, inclusive and accessible,” Prowd said.

The Nervous Atmosphere runs from September 13 to 17.

I Am (Not) This Body runs from October 11 to 15. •

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